Jessica's Reviews > Samuel Johnson Is Indignant

Samuel Johnson Is Indignant by Lydia Davis
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Sep 28, 08


I first learned about Lydia Davis from Michael Silverblatt's Bookworm radio show (podcasts available online here: http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/bw, changed my life here in lonely Japan with no books to read and no one to talk to about books), and he said that she ought to be read at the rate she appears in the little mags, one short piece per every few weeks, and I agree. This is a writer to be savoured. That hasn't stopped me from gorging myself on her writing for the last couple of months though. Her hyper-rational tone, all the while veering wildly towards the irrational, the unsayable, I recognize from my inner voice, the one that talks to me, soothingly, when I am in a panic, the one that knows about devastation and how to dish it out in bite-sized pieces. But I get to hear this voice of comfort, and of irony, on all subjects when I hear Lydia Davis do it, not just on what is about to push me over the edge, but on what is about to push others over the edge, or towards the edge, in infinitesimal little moves.
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message 1: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Malone Your review really makes me want to read this. thanks!


Jessica Erin,

The piece I like best of hers (of the ones I've read) is Grammar Questions from the book Varieties of Disturbance. You can hear her read this short piece in an interview with Michael Silverblatt at: http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/bw/b...

I can't recommend this particular piece enough. Enjoy! Jessica


message 3: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Malone I'll listen to that soon. Thanks. I see you're reading Birdsong right now. I liked it, mostly because the descriptions of war were so well drawn that I felt like I couldn't escape them. A lot of power there.

I'm away at a residency for the week. I just arrived a couple of hours ago and am trying to settle in. It feels weird to be in a little house all by myself. I have so much time to read and write that it makes me a little nervous! Strangely, Lana Ayers is here too--also came today. . . .


Jessica I suppose your residency is over now? I hope it was a wonderfully productive time for you. Both my boys are in elementary school now (as of last April, start of school year here) and for months afterwards I kept walking around thinking I was forgetting something, just having them in the same school freed up a couple of hours a day for me and it was so weird not to be in a panic about getting everything done all the time. I got used to it though and am back to panic mode. But I suppose you had a similar weird feeling with all that time and space to yourself.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Jessica wrote: "Her hyper-rational tone, all the while veering wildly towards the irrational, the unsayable, I recognize from my inner voice, the one that talks to me, soothingly, when I am in a panic, the one that knows about devastation and how to dish it out in bite-sized pieces."

Yes. Exactly. Very well put.


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