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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

94. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

I have read this before (FSG, 2009), close to the time when it came out. I enjoyed re-reading it, but not always as much as the first time. The rather uniformly bland style, the arch tone, become tedious; the humor less sharp. I skip over some of the longer stories. Davis peaks (for me) in her 2007 collection Varieties of Disturbance, though by the time I get to this I am a bit fatigued. She is an important enough short-story writer to merit a Collected, weighing in at more than 700 pages. I am among her admirers, and now remember a time at "poetini" when I read aloud some of the short stories to the group. Perhaps because I am not reading them aloud, to a group, they have less effect on me. I am not getting the approval of listeners. Some remain quite funny on re-reading, and my reservations about her style have partly to do with the effect it has on my one thought processes. I begin to express my internal thoughts in a way reminiscent of her bland, arch style.

The story "Mrs. D. and her maids" is quite amusing. Also, a story in which get well letters from a class of children are analyzed in dead-pan style. I don't quite make it through my re-reading of a highly descriptive story about two old women who retain their health and vitality. Still, I have pleasant memories of reading it, and don't want to spoil those memories with the possible tedium of repetition.

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