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Varieties of Disturbance Stories

Lydia Davis

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374281734

9780374281731

Trade Paperback

240 Pages

$14.00

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A National Book Award FinalistA New York Times Notable Book of the YearA Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the YearA San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of the Year Lydia Davis has been called “one of the quiet giants in the world of American fiction” (Los Angeles Times), “an American virtuoso of the short story form” (Salon), an innovator who attempts “to remake the model of the modern short story” (The New York Times Book Review). Her admirers include Grace Paley, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith; as Time magazine observed, her stories are “moving . . . and somehow inevitable, as if she has written what we were all on the verge of thinking.”

In Varieties of Disturbance, her fourth collection, Davis extends her reach as never before in stories that take every form from sociological studies to concise poems. Her subjects include the five senses, fourth-graders, good taste, and tropical storms. She offers a reinterpretation of insomnia and re-creates the ordeals of Kafka in the kitchen. She questions the lengths to which one should go to save the life of a caterpillar, proposes a clear account of the sexual act, rides the bus, probes the limits of marital fidelity, and unlocks the secret to a long and happy life.

No two of these fictions are alike. And yet in each, Davis rearranges our view of the world by looking beyond our preconceptions to a bizarre truth, a source of delight and surprise.

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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A Man from Her Past

Ithink Mother is flirting with a man from her past who is not Father. I say to myself: Mother ought not to have improper relations with this man "Franz"! "Franz" is a European. I say she should not see this man improperly while Father is away! But I am confusing an old reality with a new reality: Father will not be returning home. He will be staying on at Vernon Hall. As for Mother, she is ninety-four years old. How can there be improper relations with a woman of ninety-four? Yet my confusion must be this: though her body is old, her capacity for betrayal is still young

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • 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.
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