The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
Genre : Fiction
Published : 30 Aug 2010 - Hamish Hamilton
In place of a blurb, here is but one (very short) story from the wonderful Lydia Davis, a story-teller celebrated for her emotional acuity, her formal inventiveness, and her ability to capture the human mind in overdrive: 'It is extraordinary,' says one woman. 'It is extraordinary,' says the other. Find out why fellow authors like Ali Smith, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Franzen love her writing so much in this landmark collection of all of her stories to date from across three decades. And why James Wood described this book in the New Yorker as 'a body of work probably unique in American writing' and 'one of the great, strange American literary contributions'.


[A] rich volume, more than 700 pages long and a deeply involving, extraordinary book.

The Times

I loved these stories. They are so well-written, with such clarity of thought and precision of language. Excellent

Evening Standard

Davis is a high priestess of the startling, telling detail. She has a particular way with tone, briskly offering a fact or an observation as something true and useful to know, but also comic. She uses steely systems of dark irony as though she invented them... Davis’s sly, spiky system of imagining is opened out by tenderness, by sheer pain, by hilarity, often in the same paragraph. Her risky hit and miss system of storytelling is enriched by discipline and by the most surprising twists and turns; her stories display a sensibility of the rarest sort, allowing itself full exposure.


Lydia Davis’s lethally focused work takes precision to a new level... Davis’s lethally focused approach burns off character and plot; instead her pieces are more like thought sculptures or bits of verbal cartography, mapping out observations or dislocated states of mind.


Davis's humour is of a kind to make you simultaneously laugh and think. Her work, like that of Kafka – whom she cites as her biggest influence – is a semi-comic, semi-tragic investigation of the oddness of existence. It is experimental writing at its best.


Formal ingenuity, in general, is often on display… Davis's main strength is … having to do with precision and minute attention to linguistic detail...well worth checking out.


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