The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis




Trade Paperback

752 Pages



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Lydia Davis is one of our most original and influential writers, a storyteller celebrated for her inventiveness, and her ability to capture the mind in overdrive. She has been called "an American virtuoso of the short story form" (Salon) and "one of the quiet giants . . . of American fiction" (Los Angeles Times Book Review). This volume contains all her stories to date, from the acclaimed Break It Down to the 2007 National book Award finalist Varieties of Disturbance.


Praise for The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

"Among the true originals of contemporary American short fiction."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Davis nervily inhabits obsessive and haunted personas, her intonation shifting with unsettling precision from the sly to the sinister . . . Davis approaches the short-story form with jazzy experimentation, tinkering with lists, circumlocutions, even interviews where the questions have been creepily edited out. You don't work your way across this mesa-sized collection so much as pogo-stick about, plunging in wherever the springs meet the page."—Jan Stuart, The New York Times

"Finally, one can read a large portion of Davis's work, spanning three decades and more than seven hundred pages, and a grand cumulative achievement comes into view—a body of work probably unique in American writing, in its combination of lucidity, aphoristic brevity, formal originality, sly comedy, metaphysical bleakness, philosophical pressure, and human wisdom. I suspect that The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis will in time be seen as one of the great, strange American literary contributions, distinct and crookedly personal, like the work of Flannery O'Connor, or Donald Barthelme, or J. F. Powers."—James Wood, The New Yorker

"Davis is a magician of self-consciousness. Few writers now working make the words on the page matter more."—Jonathan Franzen

"All who know [Davis's] work probably remember their first time reading it . . . Blows the roof off of so many of our assumptions about what constitutes short fiction."—Dave Eggers, McSweeney's

"Sharp, deft, ironic, understated, and consistently surprising."—Joyce Carol Oates

"The best prose stylist in America."—Rick Moody

"Critics unanimously praised this extraordinary (and extraordinarily hefty) collection, in which Davis masterly taps into myriad emotions—from melancholy to hilarity, empathy, and apathy. Each voice is unique; each story is equally difficult to categorize. Many of the stories lack basic names, dates, and places and are disconcerting in their brevity. Are they short stories? Flash fiction? Fables? Davis steadfastly refuses to adhere to any kind of prescribed formula, with stunning and original results. Whatever label readers decide to attach to her work, critics agreed that Davis is one of American literature's best-kept secrets."—Bookmarks magazine

"This collection marks the first publication of Davis's stories in one volume, including stories from two previous collections, the acclaimed Break It Down and Varieties of Disturbance. Davis's highly original voice ranges from tweetlike one-liners with title ('Index Entry Christian, I'm not a') to longer works of several pages. Many stories are first-person accounts of the narrator analyzing, or overanalyzing, some situation he or she is encountering, as if waking from a dream. As she writes in 'Story,' 'I try to figure it out.' Davis, unlike some writers of nontraditional fiction, doesn't take 'stop making sense' as her personal motto. Her art lies in getting the reader to look at everyday situations from a new and different perspective. This will be prized by those who are already fans of Davis's work and should also appeal to discerning readers of more plot-driven, conventional fiction ready for something challenging and thought-provoking."—Leslie Patterson, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence, RI, Library Journal

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I get home from work and there is a message from him: that he is not coming, that he is busy. He will call again. I wait to hear from him, then at nine o'clock I go to where he lives, find...

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  • Lydia Davis

  • Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and seven story collections, including Varieties of Disturbance, which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. Winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize, she is also the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government for her fiction and her translations of modern writers including Maurice Blanchot, Michel Leiris, and Marcel Proust.