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Almost No Memory: Stories af Lydia Davis

Almost No Memory: Stories (original 1997; udgave 2001)

af Lydia Davis

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
255799,420 (4.02)6
Philosophical inquiry, examinations of language, and involuted domestic disputes are the focus of Lydia Davis' s inventive collection of short fiction, "Almost No Memory," In each of these stories, Davis reveals an empathic, sometimes shattering understanding of human relationships.
Titel:Almost No Memory: Stories
Forfattere:Lydia Davis
Info:Picador (2001), Paperback, 208 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek

Work Information

Almost No Memory af Lydia Davis (1997)


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Lydia Davis, also known as Lydia Fucking Davis to her adoring & mindblown fans, is not for everyone, but she is certainly for me. Her voice is characteristically clever, playful, effortlessly humorous, ruminating, unpretentiously philosophical, and it is an especial delight to be caught in one of those short stories where it's pure wordplay in the most crystallised, simplest of sentences. Forget Hemingway, if we want to teach the art of simple, clear sentences that hold the full weight of suggestion, we ought to teach Lydia Fucking Davis!

I mean, look at this sentence alone:
"She probably said something casual about how the evening was. If she hadn't spoken, his fury might not have been unleashed by the gentle sound of her voice. But in that instant he must have realized that for him the evening could never be as soft as it was for her."

Her stories are a peek into the banal every day and the pure complexity those moments can have, and she does this even with fiction that is speculative (wife turning into cedar trees / in a village of 12 people there was the 13th person). She parses down the twisted depths of our interiority, our thought processes that we've all been through before but never really thought was worth writing about. The subtle indignities of everyday life. She does not tackle issues so much as present its absurdity. The couples in her story are mildly discontented and always seem to be halfway out of love, and these stories are my favourite because it seems to be where her humour is best employed.
"Often I think that his idea of what we should do is wrong, and my idea is right. Yet I know that he has often been right before, when I was wrong. And so I let him make the wrong decision, telling myself, though I can't believe it, that his wrong decision may actually be right. And then later it turns out, as it often has before, that his decision was the right one, after all. Or, rather, his decision was still wrong, but wrong for circumstances different from the circumstances as they actually were, while it was right for circumstances I clearly did not understand."

No wonder she's such a cult favourite. Her short stories are such an unadulterated delight. To know that it's possible, that we can be free to write a short story this way, in so little words, in so many permutations of the same kinds of sentences -- how liberating, how fun! ( )
  verkur | Jan 8, 2021 |
I was disappointed by 'Samuel Johnson is Indignant,' which had a great title. I was even more disappointed by ANM, which did not have a great title, and had most of the bad qualities of the following volume (dull, generic short stories; fascination with a very narrow strip of human experience; over-use of the contemporary "talky but also intelligent because I went to a good school" style) with less of SJiI's best qualities (formal inventiveness; humor; Satie-esque irreverence). Not to say that ANM has none of that good stuff, just less.

Now, please note that readers of Davis are guaranteed to divide over what is good about her. Some prefer the long, traditional short stories; some (me) prefer the inventive, who-gives-a-shit-if-this-isn't-comme-il-faut snippets, fables, parables and quotations. I suspect that I should focus on later Davis, rather than try to read her first collection, but if anyone reading this can tell me otherwise, please do. I'm willing to read one more, and I want it to be the one I'll like most. ( )
  stillatim | Oct 23, 2020 |
Well, such an odd one! I don't know what to make of it.

This is the first collection of short stories I have read by Lydia Davis. I had no idea what it would be like, and if I had read the back cover that would not have given me much clue.

Most of these stories are very short, and it is hard to call them "stories" at all. Many of them explore a state of mind, a thought, an observation, turning it this way and that and looking at it. A few stories are longer, some identifiable as a story, others more like a journal. Lord Royston's Tour, for example, is a collection of brief descriptions of Royston's experiences in each locality, ending in tragedy, all of it written economically and directly, with no hint of emotion. A recording of events. Affecting nonetheless.

The Professor tells us about the narrator's dream of marrying a cowboy. Simple enough on the surface. It explores what a "cowboy" is, why she is interested. We find out how she wants to escape her own thinking at times. I suspect that Davis is compelled to write her thoughts to get them out, to free her from them, and that accounts for many of the little stories as well as this longer explanation.

St. Martin is a rather disturbing story about caretakers of a house, who let so much go, even a dog. It too is told without emotion, just an accounting, perhaps the more devastating because of this. I couldn't wait to get to the end of it, to be done.

Some of the little ones are funny, a little funny, a little odd. Meanderings of a unique mind.

I couldn't help but think that if I were to write stories some of them would be like these, although not really like these. I am not a story-teller. I think and wonder, and odd thoughts cross my mind. If I were to write those down I might have another version of this book. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
I've broken up reading this book into the four previous books that are collected into the one because reading Davis is not something to be rushed through but to be savored. Most of these are not, strictly speaking, short stories. They are not prose poems either. I don't know what they are. Disarming. They are closer to meditations, but without the stern attention, say of Marcus Aurelius or the . . . no wait . . . I was going to write "bemusement" of Montaigne, but in fact, there is bemusement, there is philosophizing, there is seriousness, there is wicked humor (perhaps more wicked and sustained than Montaigne's). Davis is a treasure. Don't say to yourself, "I don't read short stories." ***** ( )
1 stem sibylline | May 15, 2018 |
delightful shorts - really delightful and deep
  objectplace | Apr 11, 2014 |
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Philosophical inquiry, examinations of language, and involuted domestic disputes are the focus of Lydia Davis' s inventive collection of short fiction, "Almost No Memory," In each of these stories, Davis reveals an empathic, sometimes shattering understanding of human relationships.

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