Jenn(ifer)'s Reviews > Varieties of Disturbance

Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis
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Feb 19, 2012

bookshelves: read-in-2012, short-shorts, xx

Hm. Stars. I don't know what to do about those pesky little stars...

I related to the stories on an intellectual level, that I can say for certain. They were well written and thoughtful. Problem is, I didn't relate to the stories emotionally at all. At all. And that, for me, is the most important part. I like stories that make me feel SOMETHING. Stories do not have to make me feel good, in fact, the best ones leave me feeling very unsettled.

These stories, unfortunately, left me feeling... nothing. I walked away thinking "eh, well THAT happened. Moving on..." I don't mean to take anything away from Ms. Davis's writing. It's innovative and certainly unique and I'm sure there is an audience out there who will love her work. I wanted to love her work. But I didn't. I am a little bummed by that.
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Reading Progress

February 19, 2012 – Started Reading
February 19, 2012 – Shelved
March 2, 2012 – Shelved as: read-in-2012
March 2, 2012 – Shelved as: short-shorts
March 2, 2012 – Finished Reading
June 26, 2012 – Shelved as: xx

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Even though I rated her collections highly, I feel like I totally understand this reaction. I appreciate her work in a complicated way that I can't really explain. Hence, no reviews.


message 2: by Jenn(ifer) (new) - added it

Jenn(ifer) Joshua Nomen-Mutatio wrote: "Even though I rated her collections highly, I feel like I totally understand this reaction. I appreciate her work in a complicated way that I can't really explain. Hence, no reviews."

I liked your 'Lydia' story better than any of the stories in the book, if I'm being honest!


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I can only take that as a compliment. Thanks!


message 4: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Mar 02, 2012 04:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I feel like on some days I could give her stories very low rankings. I wish I could explain how they worked for me. All I can really say is that I was in a really bad/weird place at the time that I read through my copy of her complete stories and they helped dull whatever mental nastiness I was feeling somehow and it translated into feeling some kind of affection towards her as a writer, which shows up, I think, in the storylike thing I wrote.


message 5: by Jenn(ifer) (new) - added it

Jenn(ifer) The stories must have been just what you needed at the time, I guess. Makes sense for you to feel affection for her.


message 6: by Jenn(ifer) (new) - added it

Jenn(ifer) Shan wrote: "I like getting gut punched by fiction while feeling the heady tingle as well. I prefer the balance, but I guess it's not always the easiest to pull off. I've been meaning to check out some Davis af..."

I enjoy a good fictional punch in the face as well ;)


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Reminds me of this back cover blurb from Threats:

"The first time I encountered Amelia Gray’s fiction, it slugged me in the jaw. The second time too, and the third. Said jaw-slugging has ensued nearly every time I’ve read something of hers, except for when instead it whispered sad and surprising but undeniable truths about the difficulty of intimacy and sense in the wretched blastoscape of modern life. And then it made me a grilled cheese sandwich to prove that the world can be a kind place, and it waited until I had sated myself and wiped away the crumbs before slugging me in the jaw again." —Doug Dorst


message 8: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Mar 03, 2012 10:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I also need fiction to do more than just be clever and exude intelligence. Lydia Davis is, for the most part, much more on the heady tingle side of the spectrum. It's weird though, because I know some people that aren't fans of that sort of fiction who still really like or love Davis. Subjective experience of a book can be hard to make sense of sometimes, I guess.


message 9: by Jenn(ifer) (new) - added it

Jenn(ifer) I love that quote, "and then it made me a grilled cheese sandwich to prove that the world can be a kind place."


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