The End of the Story A Novel

Lydia Davis




Trade Paperback

240 Pages



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Mislabeled boxes, problems with visiting nurses, confusing notes, an outing to the country fair-such are the obstacles in the way of the unnamed narrator of The End of the Story as she attempts to organize her memories of a love affair into a novel. With compassion, wit, and what appears to be candor, she seeks to determine what she actually knows about herself and her past, but we begin to suspect, along with her, that given the elusiveness of memory and understanding, any tale retrieved from the past must be fiction.


Praise for The End of the Story

"This breathtaking elegant and unsentimental first novel is about passion, regret, and memory: about the psychology of the spot where recollection and loss intersect."—Details

"Extraordinary . . . The End of the Story is a brilliantly assembled novel."—Newsday

"Davis has written a brilliant essay in the form of a novel."—The New Yorker

"[The End of the Story] succeeds in . . . giving the reader both the story and the painful work that goes into its making, and as such it is not only beautiful, but an extraordinary and very modern achievement."—The New York Observer

"Passion and regret, writing and revision, the impossibility of describing, or even remembering, love—these themes animate Lydia Davis's brilliantly original, funny, wise, and quietly brave new novel."—Francine Prose

"Self-consciousness is one of the noblest literary virtues, especially as so exquisitely practiced by Lydia Davis in The End of the Story. This modular—modulating—novel is about the taste of memory and the awkwardness of lovesickness. Davis explores the decomposition of a relationship and, beyond that. An obscurer object of desire, the composition of her story. A fascinating, piercingly told, smoldering tale."—Charles Bernstein

"It is Davis's style that makes the novel come alive. Evocative physical description and somberly beautiful language are among her considerable gifts . . . some descriptions will lodge in your mind forever."—The Boston Globe

"Brilliant . . . The palette of Davis's novel reminds me of green tea, bone, quartz light, and dried apricots, and its French room tone buzzes with the obsessiveness of Michel Leiris, the saltwater air of Jane Bowles, and the grouchy who-cares-a-damn silence of Jean Rhys. No contemporary writer has so bravely explored the grisaille of solitude, boredom, pique, and discontent in the midst of desire, or the severe elegance of a thinking woman."—The Village Voice

"An excellent first novel . . . works on every level . . . both a coda to the traditional love story and an act of hesitant faith in the power of stories to transcend the flow of information."—Poets & Writers

"Davis's distinctive voice has never been easy to fit into conventional categories. . . . What is remarkable about the book is Davis's depiction of her narrator's struggle . . . an excruciatingly detailed anatomy of a relationship [that is] engaging, self-mocking, and scrupulously truthful."—The Times Literary Supplement

"Utterly compelling . . . The End of the Story is a comedy, but one of an unusually deep and astringent kind. . . . A remarkably original and successful novel."—London Review of Books

"Constructed in brutally perceptive and dazzlingly revelatory prose, this is a stunning work."—Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



  • 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.