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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always the sense the meaning is about to be revealed.
733 pages is an awful lot of Lydia Davis. When this book arrived I thought, will I ever want to read Lydia Davis again, when I'm done with this book?

I was a student in one of those MFA Creative Writing programs no one can disparage enough. In the late 90s they were pretty much workshops for the creation of Lydia Davis imitations. A few of these, too, read...
Published on June 17, 2010 by Guttersnipe Das

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting
I read her novel which reminded me of 'The Unconsoled' - but the short stories are more like internal conversations.... too many of them. I propable won't finish the book. I pick it up on occasion and read a few - but can't say I get much out of it. She can definitely write well...but this is sort of stream-of-consciousness contemporary writing and doesn't really grab...
Published 8 months ago by Lorraine A. Davis


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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always the sense the meaning is about to be revealed., June 17, 2010
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733 pages is an awful lot of Lydia Davis. When this book arrived I thought, will I ever want to read Lydia Davis again, when I'm done with this book?

I was a student in one of those MFA Creative Writing programs no one can disparage enough. In the late 90s they were pretty much workshops for the creation of Lydia Davis imitations. A few of these, too, read like Lydia Davis imitations. Occasionally I feel like the target of a confidence trick, like, would it all seem so profound, if the spine didn't say 'Farrar, Straus and Giroux'?

And yet -- I would read ten more volumes of Lydia Davis, each the size of this one. Her stories are a very special and quiet kind of music, which make me listen to everything differently. The stories work because Lydia Davis somehow smuggles me into a slightly different consciousness, the one next door, the one I sense when I've had one strong cup of coffee too many, and feel the meaning of life is slowly being revealed to me, in the form of a code contained in the very most minor events of my life.

Lydia Davis inspires a very special kind of attention, like a day spent in silence. This book is a good chance to be entirely caught up in that familiar and strange light.
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68 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect introduction and will make you a rabid fan of Lydia Davis!, October 7, 2009
I first heard about her about two years ago when I read an interview in Poets & Writers; what I found most interesting was the way she loved to experiment with the form. Any aspiring writer would do well to study and enjoy this book, but anyone would love it because she is SO funny! Some of the stories are SHORT indeed, while others are much longer. My favorite so far is Sketches in the Life of Vassilly, but I have about 600 more pages to go which makes me GLAD I am just now discovering her!!!!!!!!!

I also love her crazy, obsessed female characters - they let me know that I am not the only headcase dealing with my relationships. LOL I can't say it enough, read and study, laugh and learn...the meaning of these stories is up to you but their impact will be stunning to anyone who picks it up!! What a lovely hardcover - don't wait for the paperback! You will read it a hundred times over before THAT comes out.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Issa pretty good book, December 14, 2009
By 
John Cullom (Washington, DC USA) - See all my reviews
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I was pointed to this book by the most glowing review I have ever read in the New Yorker. The gist was that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and that over the course of four collections of stories, a very full character is painted. I would agree with that. These stories feel very autobiographical, some, especially for their brevity feel like they capture an event that has just occurred - almost impressionistic. At the end, we have a very good feeling for a character, whether this is Lydia or not, is sort of moot. That's a pretty significant literary achievement.

Here's the problem. This isn't the world's shortest book. I think what is actually the case is that the fourth collection is really a great book and that LD has significantly grown as a writer into probably a major writer. That isn't really evident in the first two collections, and while reading them gives you further depth of attachment to the character, I'm not sure it's time optimally spent. I've got Faulkner's Collected and Borges Collected stories sitting on the shelf ignored while I pass them over for a very enthusiastically reviewed orange tome. Ok, that's not a particularly fair comparison, but hey, it's what happened.

There are great moments in each of the collections, but those moments are very close together in the final collection. How Shall I Mourn Them is heartbreaking, and a good example of how appropriate a literary experiment is to grieving. There is so little comforting at the moment of when pain feels so particular and personal in recognizing how common rending grief is. The uniqueness of an experiment seems absolutely right. Barthelme's The Dead Father has something of the same feeling.

A nice common thread throughout is Issa and his gentle and minutely observed humanity. The influence shows early on, and the feeling in the beginning is how pleasant it is to reintroduce this style, but how difficult it is to be a disciple of his. By the end, LD seems to be Haikuist of similar empathy and observational power. That's no mean feat.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take One Before Sleeping, July 5, 2010
By 
Jenny Jenkins (Old Chatham, NY) - See all my reviews
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Lydia Davis's stories are like nobody else's. They are odd and original, with every word accounted for and considered. Some stories are two sentences long and one story is 40 pages long. Each story lands in your brain with a heap of questions: Who is this somewhat removed yet pushy narrator? What is the narrator not telling us? And how are those negative spaces of what's not being told us shaping our vision of what's happening on the page? How is the seemingly objective narrator shaping our vision in distinct ways? How can a story two sentences long feel so complete? Or a story 40 pages long seem so incomplete and yet right at the same time? Sometimes there is a brutal, intellectual clarity at work. She pins down those tiny, almost imperceptible exchanges in a marriage or parenthood like a scientist pinning down a butterfly to examine every dot and flicker. If you think clarity of language and the mystery of life are at odds, this volume will prove you wrong. Take in small doses - a story or two before bed - and let your brain work through the magic of Lydia Davis's stories as you sleep. You'll wake up more awake for having done so - although sometimes these stories are so cerebral that you become almost painfully conscious of just how alone in your own mind you actually are.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, January 22, 2014
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This review is from: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Paperback)
I read her novel which reminded me of 'The Unconsoled' - but the short stories are more like internal conversations.... too many of them. I propable won't finish the book. I pick it up on occasion and read a few - but can't say I get much out of it. She can definitely write well...but this is sort of stream-of-consciousness contemporary writing and doesn't really grab me. Interesting, but not compelling.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Empress is Somewhat Under-dressed, January 7, 2011
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This review is from: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Paperback)
Anyone who has won a MacArthur Fellowship and translated Swann's Way (and thanks for that; I will get to Bovary in time)is not to be taken lightly. On the other hand, anyone who eschews or abandons pretty much all short story conventions (conflict, character development, dialogue), had better make every word count or be uber-fresh and original.

This a huge collection, and to my tastes an uneven one. In places, I would think, "Yes, Yes, so this is what all the fuss is about." But other places I wondered what pressures had been exerted to get such incredible blurbs and reviews. The interminable saga of Vi and Helen towards the end was an example of the latter place. I just didn't get it and finally gave up on that one. But there are any number of brilliant, funny pieces, long and short. "Collaboration with a Fly" comes to mind.

Maybe she just needs an editor (or a translator).
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34 of 45 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me...., January 5, 2010
I got this collection of stories recently as a college student looking for something I could read but not have to commit to because I knew my classes would be taking up most of my time. I didn't enjoy most of it. I found that the stories hold common threads and are most effective when read straight through, or at least in large chunks. The stories don't necessarily have the same main character but they all seem to have the same thought processes, which would make them endearing to someone who thinks similarly. In a lot of the stories I just feel like I'm reading the inner workings of a paranoid and insecure female mind. I don't say that to sound sexist, it just isn't all that enjoyable to read from the point of view of a 21 year old male. Her form and writing style is very unique every word on the page has a purpose. It reminds me of William Carlos Williams' poetry in that way. I don't think she is a bad writer I just don't think the themes she tackles will interest all readers.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay, February 27, 2014
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This review is from: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Paperback)
I kept reading this very long collection, waiting to get to the part all the hoopla was about. Unfortunately, for the most part, I never reached it. There were a few stories that I found witty, entertaining, or insightful about the human condition. But too many of them read like someone jotting down a paragraphs or two of their thoughts or were otherwise just fragments and not all that interesting to me, or even what I'd call "stories." I'd rather have read a much shorter "Best Of Lydia Davis" collection than what struck me as just very uneven, high profile honors or not.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Collected stories of Lydia Davis, January 7, 2013
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A novel approach to literature. It was interesting, and pleasant to read. Some stories were almost reduced to sentences, and I lost the theme.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and Long, October 13, 2011
By 
Sue Lange "Sue Lange" (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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These are mostly very short stories, some better than others. The prose is clean and usually depicts an instant in time, or short section of someone's life. I don't like to read one story right after another so reading sessions tend to be short. These are perfect for those times when you want a quick little diversion. Save the longer ones for when you have more time.
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The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis (Paperback - October 26, 2010)
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