elsewhere || “Lydia Davis Breaks It Down” at POC-Metakritiko

My kind-of review of Break It Down, short story collection of Lydia Davis [included in The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis], is up on Metakritiko at The Philippine Online Chronicles: “Lydia Davis Breaks It Down.” Well. That’s all, really. I mean, click, if you’re so inclined.

I like this collection, though with reservations. And I eventually learned to temper that [which nears ambivalence at times] by reading the collection piece by piece, that is, taking my sweet time with it. That ought to be common sense, but y’all know me by now. So. I leave you with a quote from Miss Davis:

I guess you get to a point where you look at that pain as if it were there in front of you three feet away lying in a box, an open box, in a window somewhere. It’s hard and cold, like a bar of metal. You just look at it there and say, All right, I’ll take it, I’ll buy it. That’s what it is. Because you know all about it even when you go into this thing. You know the pain is part of the whole thing. And it isn’t that you can say afterwards the pleasure was greater than the pain and that’s why you would do it again. That has nothing to do with it. You can’t measure it, because the pain comes after and lasts longer. So the question really is, Why doesn’t that pain make you say, I won’t do it again? When the pain is so bad that you have to say that, but you don’t.

To quote that silly ol’ Young Werther: “Oh, what a creature is Man, that he may bewail himself!” Go figure.

In other news, I’ve got the rest of her collected stories waiting for me. [Not to mention her new translation of Madame Bovary.] A treat, really. But in sips. Sort of like how the devout pick a Psalm for the day and dwell on it until sundown.

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6 comments

  1. Shannon · · Reply

    If you’re interested in his marriage with Lydia Davis, I believe he talks about it in his memoir Hand to Mouth which is in my copy of his Collected Prose. =)

    Your review was wonderful, and I love Davis’s work so much as well!

    1. Thanks, Shannon. A close friend of mine has a copy of Hand to Mouth. And I might just steal it later, haha.

  2. [...] [1] I reviewed A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore, and Lydia Davis’ short story collection Break It Down for Metakritiko. [2] Added several new books to the TBR Land Mass, effectively confirming that I [...]

  3. [...] haha. I began making my way through The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis with Break It Down, which I loved, and then followed that with Almost No Memory, which I didn’t so much like. And here came Samuel [...]

  4. [...] With Break It Down, I was thrilled with Davis, fascinated by her craft. Enamored by her. But I was wary. I am generally not a fan of form-above-content — I loathe thinking of the writer sniggering in some corner. [...]

  5. [...] Break It Down, by Lydia Davis [...]

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