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Lydia Davis


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#1 Angury

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 11:36 AM

One of the most original writers out there and the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, Lydia Davis has been described as 'the master of a literary form largely of her own invention.'

Her short stories, some of which are only one sentence long, capture those small moments in our day to day lives that most of us would just walk by. I am always fascinated by how Davis can play with words, being able to jolt us out of our dreamlike states in just a few sentences. I don't think I've ever read a writer like her.

I was curious whether there would be other fellow Davis fans out there, or even better, people who I have encouraged to read her work.

#2 vodkafan

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 09:28 PM

Haven't heard of her, but I am impressed by the sound of someone who can make a story in one sentence! You can count me in as someone you have encouraged to read at least one book.. :D



#3 pontalba

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 11:11 PM

I have her short stories, mostly unread.....sorry to say.  But she is also the one that made the new translation of Swann's Way.  She does have a way with words! :)



#4 Athena

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 06:05 AM

One sentence short stories, that sounds pretty special. I tried to find a sample of one online, but couldn't find any (based on a quick Amazon search). The shortest short stories I've read, are from Philip Trippenbach, in 30 Second Sci Fi: Three hundred and sixty-five stories of a science-fictional nature, usually they are a couple of sentences long. I stopped reading the book though as I read over 100 stories within a few hours and then felt I needed a pause. Such stories are more suited to read a couple per day, rather than 100 :P. I haven't got back to it yet but I plan to do so some day. I'm curious what a one sentence short story would be like!

#5 Anna Begins

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 06:10 AM

I love short stories- I will definitely look into Davis. I am reading several short story collections atm, Philip K Dick's, Tennessee Williams and Andy Rooney's collection. Raymond Carver is mye favorite (What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Where I'm Calling From).

Edited by Anna Begins, 10 June 2016 - 07:30 AM.


#6 dtrpath27

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 10:14 AM

I've never heard of Lydia Davis, but the idea of sentence-long short stories is very interesting to me. Hemingway once won a bet that he could tell an entire store in just one sentence:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

#7 Anna Begins

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 02:42 PM

I've never heard of Lydia Davis, but the idea of sentence-long short stories is very interesting to me. Hemingway once won a bet that he could tell an entire store in just one sentence:
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

:D. Leave it to Hemingway!

Edit, I found her Collected Stories and read the first one already. I think this is one I will have to buy!

Edited by Anna Begins, 10 June 2016 - 02:44 PM.


#8 Anna Begins

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 04:44 AM

Very different- thanks for the suggestion :)

Edited by Anna Begins, 11 June 2016 - 04:44 AM.


#9 Angury

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 06:28 PM

I'm glad that I have managed to persuade some of you to check out her works. I really hope more people come across her work as time goes on - I was really quite lucky as I stumbled across her name accidentally whilst on Goodreads and have since become a big fan.

Just to give an example of her writing, below is one of her more popular short stories entitled 'The Thirteenth Woman:'

In a town of twelve women there was a thirteenth. No one admitted she lived there, no mail came for her, no one spoke of her, no one asked after her, no one sold bread to her, no one bought anything from her, no one returned her glance, no one knocked on her door, the rain did not fall on her, the sun never shone on her, the day never dawned for her, the night never fell for her; for her the weeks did not pass, the years did not roll by; her house was unencumbered, her garden unattended, her path not trod upon, her bed not slept in, her food not eaten, her clothes not worn; and in spite of all this she continued to live in the town without resenting what it did to her.

What I find particularly interesting about this short story is how it is really just composed of two sentences. If you look at the second sentence, it is full of commas and semi-colons - it almost feels as if the words are running into each other.
In one of her interviews, Lydia Davis stated that after writing this piece she believed that the story revolved around quite a young woman and conveyed that feeling of being invisible at that age.

It is this type of enduring yet common day emotion that I feel Davis captures particularly well, in such simple yet almost poetic sentences. I myself feel inspired to pick up the pen and write every time I read some of her works. Rarely have I come across an author who has encouraged me to do just that - a lot of the time I read a writers work and feel like I will never be able to write that well. Her work has taught me how powerful a word can be if it is used correctly - that we don't all need to have struggled through life's difficulties in order to be a good writer, but that ideas can be found from all around us, and the most mundane chores that make up our day to day lives can have a deep and insightful message when put upon paper.

Edited by Angury, 11 June 2016 - 06:30 PM.


#10 Anna Begins

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Posted 11 June 2016 - 08:55 PM

I love it! My mom just bought me her Collected Stories for Kindle, I'm quite excited!

I really liked:

Coughing, her head up on three pillows, warm tea beside her; or on another night a limp, melting rag of wet Kleenex across her forehead.

#11 Athena

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 04:43 AM

I have to say, having done more 'research' and reading these two short stories, that on second thought, I don't think she's for me. I get along better with novels than short stories and what I've read from her so far, doesn't really appeal to me.

But I hope those of you who read her work, enjoy reading it :).




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