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The End of the Story

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  2,070 ratings  ·  295 reviews
Mislabeled boxes, problems with visiting nurses, confusing notes, an outing to the county fair--such are the obstacles in the way of the unnamed narrator of The End of the Story as she attempts to organize her memories of a love affair into a novel. With compassion, wit, and what appears to be candor she seeks to determine what she actually knows about herself and her past ...more
Paperback, 231 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Picador USA (first published December 1st 1994)
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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,070 ratings  ·  295 reviews


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K.D. Absolutely
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2004-2010)
There is some kind of style in this book that made me like it. That style is strange and I did not know how Davis was able to walk away with it.

(1) No plot
(2) No dialogues
(3) Started the 1st person narration ("unreliable") with the ending of the story
(4) Time period went back and forth with no pattern
(5) Unnecessary characters, events, musings

It’s an endless recollection of the unnamed narration’s failed love story with a man 12 years her senior. The narrator is a college literature professor an
...more
Laura
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Fuck.

That's really all I can say.
Snotchocheez
Apr 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
1.5 stars

Rub enough elbows with the literary cognoscenti, you're bound to hear glowing praise about Lydia Davis' short stories. I was delighted to see The End of the Story, her first novel, made available to our library system's e-book exchange to see what the hoopla was all about.

Delight turned to unalleviated boredom rather quickly, followed by utter exasperation with the realization (at about page 40) that it never was going to get any better. It's further frustrating that many GR folks fou
...more
Ryan
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of the few books I come back to over and over again. I have never read anything quite like this nearly plotless, dialogue-less book detailing the slow decline of a relationship. The tone is hauntingly lonely and there is never a question about where the narrative is headed, but the observations are so smart and the sentences so well-crafted that I highly recommend this book to those interested in reading about the small nuances of desperate, yet honest love.
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: american
Minimalist Fiction and Self-Awareness

Davis's minimalist voice (which I find myself mimicking in this review, always a sign of a style's power to inhabit the imagination and control the pen) is not at all the usual minimalism. This novel is life with its content subtracted away. It's about a love affair, but we are scarcely told anything about what either person looks like. We hear, in passing, that the narrator likes to identify species of grass and spiders, but we aren't given any names of gras
...more
Rand
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the sea
Recommended to Rand by: the river
I always cry at endings.

This is the way in which we learn to let go while holding on .

Because when loss lessens us to the point that love's lessons leave us spent, less is more. Sometimes it takes a certain sort of numbness—time, work, drugs, sleep, food— to know how to begin to feel again.

Because there are parts of the heart which are always crying and that is the fountain of compassion.

Sold this book because I thought some other thing would take my mind off of that which this book elapses. Di
...more
MJ Nicholls
Senryu Review:

Supreme break-up book
in stark self-aware prose trumps
all-night make-up sex.
M. Sarki
Nov 09, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I made it more than half way through this basic retread of some short stories Lydia Davis has previously written and published. Seems she writes a bit here and there about a boy and her relationship and perhaps a bit more about a girl and her relationship and sometimes about both of them and her relationship with them all and by the time I get to where I am I am so tired and too tired of reading this boring tale of nothing. Ray Johnson, the artist, whose last act was a performance piece in which ...more
Christina M Rau
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
How much do I adore Lydia Davis? I like her writing because no one is able to categorize it. Sometimes a work of hers that appears in a prose magazine will also appear in a poetry magazine--the same exact piece of writing. I love that. Some libraries list her stuff as personal essays while others have it in the fiction section.

The End Of The Story is definitely a novel. I know that because the narrator keeps referring to what she's writing as a novel and the novel she's writing is the novel I w
...more
Sarah
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: age-disparate relationships
It seems like every sentence in this book was carefully constructed to convey the maximum amount of sadness any person has ever felt in the history of people feeling sad. I tried reading this once before and couldn't get past the whole 'story about writing a story' thing and Davis's style of writing was so extremely different than what I'm used to that I put it away for later when I could appreciate it. This time, I found it just as difficult and demanding and, at times, unfathomably boring as i ...more
☕Laura
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned-books
I admire what the author did with this book and the way she captured the challenge of processing memories after the fact, of trying to reconstruct a logical timeline of events as they actually occurred, not how we have come to believe they happened or how we wish they had happened. It was definitely a unique book and was worth reading for that alone. However, the story itself just never grabbed my interest and I never felt at all invested in the characters or their actions, so in the end this bo ...more
Emily
Aug 25, 2011 added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
As a break from the theoretical turn Evening All Afternoon has been taking of late, let me rhapsodize straightforwardly about the numerous things I love in the writing of Lydia Davis. In particular, I've just finished her 2004 The End of the Story, which treats of the end, beginning, and aftermath (in that order) of a love affair, and also of the process of transforming that love affair into a novel.

I was particularly intrigued to pick up Davis's novel, as her stories tend to the radically succ
...more
Kelly
May 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
I had a really hard time getting through this small book. I like Lydia Davis, and I respect her a lot as a writer. That's why I'm not giving this book 1 star. I felt like for all of the time she described organizing her thoughts, this was a disorganized mess of rambling. It was not only a story about her failed relationship with someone who was not right for her, whom she didn't much care for until he left her, but also the story of her writing the story. I wanted to care, but I couldn't make my ...more
Nathanial
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ponderous pontificators
Shelves: fiction
just because. just because the sentences don't end, like the landscapes. because the mix of how she moves from thoughts to deeds, place to past, memories to wish. it doesn't have to be that way, the words we said didn't have to be the words we said, the way he carries his shoulders and head don't begin to describe the longing that resides inside, when the sound of a whisker scratches the surface of a page he's reading in the back room, where kitchen tiles stack on the paint-spattered counter and ...more
Chris
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
i got the voice of this narrator in my head and i'm not sure i want her out of my head
Tosh
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt, one of the great books on writing that is not non-fiction, but in fact a work of fiction. On one level, a narrative (of sorts) regarding the beginning and ending of a relationship, or what we are led to believing is a relationship. One is not sure, since we're getting the story or narrative from the author -for all I know she maybe making this all up, or it could be a demented diary of sorts. Fragmented, yet totally readable, the narrator comments on every aspect of her relation ...more
Karen
Jan 20, 2010 rated it liked it
I'm giving this a three because it is a difficult book to like, but an important book to love because here Davis fearlessly confronts the process of resurrecting narrative from our emotional past. It's a dissection, really, of the mind's attempt to make linear sense of the heart, the arm's length of what we call love, the deeper romance of despair. Important for anyone who thinks they write nonfiction, or who thinks they write fiction, or who thinks.
sofía  gonzález
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There had been other times when I felt nameless and faceless, walking through city streets at night or in the rain when no one knew where I was, and now this feeling had unexpectedly been confirmed by the man standing across the counter from me. As he looked at me, I floated away from what I thought I was, and became neutral, colorless, without feeling: there was an equal choice between what I thought I was [...] and what he thought I was, and there might not be any such thing as the truth an
...more
Jamie
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Stephen told me the other day I wasn’t a sensitive person and I was all, “Yes I am,” confusing ‘sensitive’ with ‘perceptive’ and ‘thoughtful’ and then started adding, “Just because I’m not going to sit around and blah blah blah feelings all day and cry over puppies and care about things that are just stupid and,” needless to say he was all, “Point proven.” I guess this furthers his cause, as some of the sentences were stabbingly beautiful and I’m always interested in the exploration of faulty me ...more
Jana
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just didn't care for this much - I probably skimmed the biggest part of it because it just felt like the author was just rambling. There was no real plot and barely even characters.
Holly
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lydia Davis. In novel form.
Sam Tornio
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By the end you will be convinced that Lydia Davis is the only author who ever truly wrote a sentence.
Sohum
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
unstable, but not necessarily destabilizing. i wish more books were written like this, reckoning.
Julia
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had very mixed feelings. Sometimes I struggled a bit while reading through the internal and seemingly endless monologues but more often I enjoyed the honesty, the vulnerability of a human being, that I felt so close.
I certainly think that this book is definitely something, very unique that makes it worth reading and distinguishes it from all others.
Zach
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
1. Who would have guessed that an overly self-conscious novel about a self-conscious character/narrator/author writing a novel about the self-conscious remembrance of a failed love affair would be boring and eye-roll-worthy and self-involved? Just kidding, anyone could have guessed that.

2. A quote: Vincent (husband of the unnamed narrator [whose name is presumably Lydia Davis... it's that kind of book:] in the portion of the story in which this novel is being written, you follow?) happens to be
...more
Ash
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-acquire
This book isn't for everyone. The style is experimental. It is not a linear story. There is no dialogue. The main character is not "likeable." But Davis really captures the obsessive longing for a partner that can happen once the relationship has run its course. I have so many passages highlighted because I found it relateable but I have a feeling that if you're capable of healthy goodbyes then you may be a bit horrified by this book.
Lee Foust
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A novel both tedious and brilliant, precise and vague, the one meta-fictional work I know where the meta is considerably more interesting than the story, a story which, because it's over before it begins, and because it's so like so many stories we've lived and watched others live, isn't really much of a story at all.

that's about all I have to say about it. --anyway, the novel itself (and particularly the blurbs on the paperback) say more about the book than we really need to hear. Yes, the narr
...more
Amerynth
Lydia Davis' novel "The End of the Story" is an okay book, but not something that I would have ever read (or wanted to read) if it wasn't on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die" list.

The novel tells the story of an unnamed narrator's obsession with an ex-lover as their relationship slowly crumbles and ends.

Davis has an interesting writing style but I found it didn't really carry the novel through here. I could see the very obvious connections with Proust's work, (and it's pretty ballsy I th
...more
Franziska Nyffenegger
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-new
I liked her short pieces and wanted to read more. However, I did not get to the end of „The End of the Story“. After 73 (of 236) pages, I decided to make use of a readers‘ freedom to quit a lecture whenever it becomes annoying (Daniel Pennac). And it became annoying long before page 73. - I understand Davis’ literary intention and her procedure, yet I found the story utterly boring. That‘s maybe unjust since most if not all love stories are. Why should a differently told one make a difference?
Will Speros
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I was sick for a week and unable to even sit up. And all I could I think about was that I needed to finish this book. I love Lydia
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Lydia Davis, acclaimed fiction writer and translator, is famous in literary circles for her extremely brief and brilliantly inventive short stories. In fall 2003 she received one of 25 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” awards. In granting the award the MacArthur Foundation praised Davis’s work for showing “how language itself can entertain, how all that what one word says, and leaves unsaid, can hold ...more

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