It has become a cliché to say that less is more, but there is no other expression that best summarizes Lydia Davis's writing. Her stories are, however, way beyond any clichéd idea. They are fresh, perceptive and addictive. She writes as if telling us something personal, something that happened with her - some stories may have an autobiographical touch, especially when told in first person, but nevertheless they don't mean to be really confessional.
She writes both short-short stories and short-long ones and is first among equals in each case. Her shortest stories may be not longer than one line, and even in these cases she is able to bring something meaningful.
In her first collection "Break it down", Davis writes mostly about fractured relationships, about lost love, and people dealing with the changes in their lives. One of the best of them is "The fears of Mrs Orlando", about a woman afraid of leaving her home, and the consequences of that. Actually it is not only about it - this woman's fear works as a metaphor for everybody's fears. Another brilliant one is called "French Lesson I: Le Meurtre". It could be read as a thriller disguised as a French Lesson. The key words, which are taught in this lesson, give away a deeper meaning to the narrative.
First published in 1984, "Break it down" is seen as an assured debut of a mature talent for short fiction. Davis doesn't aim a Chekhovian realism - her helm is another one that sometimes is expressed in only a few words.