Holly's Reviews > The Collected Stories

The Collected Stories by Lydia Davis
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's review
Mar 09, 2010

bookshelves: to-read

From Guardian book blog: Intrepid when it comes to style, wide-ranging in choices of subject and unceasingly cerebral, there are many places you might find yourself when you enter a Lydia Davis story. Open one of her four collections – or better yet, last year's Collected Stories (to be published in the UK by Hamish Hamilton this summer) – and you could just as easily encounter the split-page experimentalism of Southward Bound, Reads 'Worstward Ho'; The Furnace, seemingly a memoir documenting a parent's dementia; Cape Cod Diary, which reads like one; or We Miss You, a sociological report struggling to maintain professional reserve and resist telling the stories that strain at its seams.

What you won't find, not really, are stories that follow the established post-Chekhovian patterns. One of the defining features of Davis's work, one I believe to be less about iconoclasm than a simple reflection of her interests, is its hardline avoidance of many literary conventions. As she told the Believer in 2008, "I am simply not interested, at this point, in creating narrative scenes between characters."

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