Two stories by Lydia Davis you ought to read

Lydia Davis is in a league of her own, and The Outing (printed here, at Conjunctions, alongside four more pieces) is barely sixty words long and only one sentence. It describes the entirety of a fight on a walk, from an angry roadside outburst to bushy tears. A masterclass in how to use rhythm, in how to use movement.

The Old Dictionary (printed here, at Harpers Magazine) is a strong contender for my favourite Lydia Davis piece. Again, more than one thing is going on at the same time. She describes the care with which she must handle her old dictionary, and notes that she rarely looks after her own son with as much attention. She muses as well on how little she cares for her plants, some of which are nice-looking, some of which are not. She thinks of the dog, who’s luckily treated better than the plants. And at the end she thinks again of the dictionary. It’s so nice. Davis has a way of being funny without being funny. And if you have five minutes to spare, you can listen to Davis read The Old Dictionary here (at Conjunctions again!)

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