Lydia Davis is one of our most original and influential writers, a storyteller celebrated for her emotional acuity, her formal inventiveness, and her ability to capture the mind in overdrive. She has been called "an American virtuoso of the short story form" ( Salon.com ) and "one of the quiet giants... of American fiction" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). This volume contains all her stories to date, from the acclaimed "Break It Down" (1986) to the 2007 National Book Award nominee "Varieties of Disturbance".
Ce que les membres d'Audible en pensent
- Christine Currie
Lydia Davis has a knack for the short, she's a keen eye of precious life .
If I could be trapped on an island with only one book this might be it.
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Fascinating, quirky short stories
This is the kind of odd fiction writing I enjoy personally, but I am certain it isn't for everyone. Among the two hundred minus one little stories here are tiny bits of wordplay, narrators who overanalyze their situation, at least one picaresque travelogue with a surprise ending, dialogues where the speakers are at cross purposes, wounded or in some other way damaged characters, apparently pointless lists, unexpectedly poignant realizations, pastiches of various genres of writing (both fiction and nonfiction), and oddly monomaniacal character studies. In the shortest ones you will miss the point if your attention flags at the wrong instant, in the longer ones you often get the feeling of wondering why you are being told the tale, if that is what it is, up until the very end where things either fall into place or simply come to an abrupt stop.
There aren't any truly outlandish events in the stories that I can remember. The oddest things I think were the specificity of the things described and the reaction of the characters to them. I have enjoyed the author's work in translation work before and I think I can recognize trait of latching upon the vivid detail that will bring the foreign text to life. And yet, the details are not so strange as to be unrecognizable, the odd sights that beset the characters and the weird turns of phrase that come from their mouths are things that we might have seen and heard ourselves if we had only taken the trouble to note them down sometime. For a moment, maybe only the space of a sentence or two, the scene becomes a little bit more defined than what occurs naturally, leaving a more lasting impression.
The audio narration is capably carried out by three gifted readers. I had a hard time deciding which one was my favorite, because they bring different things to the performance. The shortest stories clock in under a half minute not counting the portentous introduction giving the title and the epilogue informing you that "you have been listening to" such and such. In audio form it comes to something like twenty-one hours in all, but the brevity of most of the stories and the variety of the settings and characters keeps it from being in any way a long slog.
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