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Almost No Memory: Stories Paperback – September 8, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
These stories are fantastic -- each one is a grab at life; each one sings a truth. Just read a few sentences (or a few stories; many are quite short) in the bookstore and see for yourself. If the writing doesn't grab you right away, then you'd probably line up with the disappointed book groupers. If it does . . . enjoy!
I was a bit nervous about reading this because her subsequent book is an all-time favourite of mine (that title! that cover!) but I was entranced. Another careful assemblage incorporating uncollected pieces from as long ago as 1986, and even several from her scarce 1976 debut. (The following volume did likewise, but at least distinguished them typographically.).
At first draught these texts (is story quite the right word? more Lydian mischief) are awful dry. This is domestic tragicomedy. The narrator-figure is of course absurd - aren't we all? But then we start to love the aridity. 'Since it had been so hard for me to find this beauty [in the American west] I didn't want to leave it.' The Professor, quoted above, would make a fine anthology piece - gee it's poignant! - while St. Martin (properly Saint Martin, pronounced French-style) is a 20-page object lesson in descriptive writing Disturbingly confessional, sometimes with a heady whiff of Proust (' is it that we do not want to do what we so much believe we want to do?', or see A Friend of Mine), and did I mention the bleakness? (A Second Chance.) Darn it I think I'm smitten
Putting out all her stories to date thrust Davis into momentary dizzying prominence, but can that doorstop of a collected (not even chronologically ordered, just her four main books lumped together) possibly be as much fun?Read more ›
"Lord Royston's Tour", for instance, is a beautifully traveling account through Eastern Europe. This is story is placed right after "To Reiterate", a single-page comment - rather than a story - about traveling accounts. Story after story resonates in the reader's mind, because together they bring a mural of human life. Some of them are interconnected by characters and/or places.
In "Almost no memory" Davis uses a fist person voice that makes the stories sound like confessions, as if she was opening her heart to the reader. In her first book, "Break it down", she also uses this approach that is very effective in her hands building a straight connection between writer and reader.
She employs many styles, tones, and voices. The pieces come variously comic, peculiar, tragic, surreal, mysterious, whimsical, quirky, lyrical, cerebral, and earthy. Some are faintly Kafakaesque, Borgesian, Beckett-echoing, and most have plenty of Davis's originality. Some are very ambitious, others narrow in intent. Each defines its own terms as a fiction. If the reader finds one piece less than compelling, he eagerly continues, if only to see what she will come up with next. And is soon again enthralled. There are meta-fictions, such as "The Center of the Story," and a number of the pieces seem to be written for an audience of writers and sophisticated readers. Other pieces aim more broadly.
In "This Condition" the narrator conveys a state of generalized erotic feeling. It's lovely, sexy writing, a prose poem, with no single object of desire-- sexuality finding its echo in the universe of animals, minerals, vegetables; ideas, maps, texts. A sort of erotica for the lover of life.
In "The Professor," Davis's narrator, teaching English out West, reveals a fantasy of marrying a cowboy.
"...I started listening to country Western music on the car radio, though I knew it wasn't written for me.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Different Lydia Davis collections reveal different sides of her mind.Published 5 months ago by Amanda Jean Stevenson
To have appropriated metafiction of the 1960's and to persist and still receive the positive acclaim of reviewers is a feat in itself. Read morePublished on August 1, 2013 by Really a Reader
Found her short stories very engaging. Each one had its own message. Also, love her use of language: clever, clever.
After having stumbled upon Lydia Davis three years ago, I read every one of her books, and fell quite in love with them. I proceed, as though I am reading a list. Read morePublished on November 29, 2004 by Ami M. Lahoff
I have heard such good things about Lydia's short stories that I almost feel the need to apologize for writing this, as it seems that I am the dissenting voice. Read morePublished on June 5, 2002 by Susanna Czar
Far superior to "Break it Down." The stories are clearer, more enjoyable, the lengths are perfect, the language is wonderful. Read morePublished on June 9, 2001 by J. Vallese