Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Head, Heart

Heart weeps.
Head tries to help heart.
Head tells heart how it is, again:
You will lose the ones you love. They will all go.
But even the earth will go, someday.
Hearts feels better, then.
But the words of head do not remain long in the ears of heart.
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says heart.
Head is all heart has.
Help, head. Help heart.

--a short story by Lydia Davis

There's been a lot of buzz over The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis recently released (as a 752-page tome) by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The longest story tops out at nine pages (3-4 is the average), while others are as short as a single sentence. Each story--long or short--is a gem. The range of Davis's prose is intellectual, insightful, witty, poetic and always profound. It takes surgical-like precision to work in such brevity, and Davis is a master of language and form.

The New Yorker recently ran a feature on the book, as did The Village Voice.