On reading Lydia Davis’ Almost No Memory #amreading #litchat


davisWhat in the world is Lydia Davis up to? If she were up to one thing, the thing she might be up to if she weren’t up to other things, we might know her better, or think we know her better, or not. But if she is up to other things, things of which we are unaware, then we are lost in what we believe. These things: words and not words; space and not space; what comes next and what comes not next; what comes next when we are expecting the first thing, not the second thing, and when the second thing come first; the long stories and the short stories and the stories that are not stories at all but are fiction. The stories that are not stories but are not poems are something, but that something is lost as it comes through first, or maybe second, or maybe not at all. We keep reading, trusting Lydia, or not trusting her, but allowing ourselves to be thrust into this space of not trusting and trusting at the same time. There are the stories that are longer than poems, but lyric, and some of us think of poems while reading the long stories and think of stories while we are reading the short stories which are not really stories but poems. These things: cats in jail and the men who kill them; Lord Royston and the unknown reasons for his travels and all the things that are not said in the travels and all the long and sacred moments and the majesty and the light of the land and the fury of the sea; thinking not thinking; mice; what is story and what is not story and what is the center of stories and what lies on the outskirts of stories and what we believe might be a story, or not, or a poem, or a bit of both, or of neither; a country of people who watch Othello every single night; this condition of being and not being; of our shallowness and our skins and how we are not the people we are, and do not do unto others as we would have them do to us, or we do exactly what we would have done to us, but is not what we thought it might be. What is Lydia Davis doing in these worlds that are not worlds, stories that are not stories, in language that rises and sinks and crests and pulls us along in swift currents when we do not want to be pulled along, but perhaps do, perhaps finding solace in these shifting things?

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