Break It Down: Stories (FSG Classics)
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The thirty-four stories in this seminal collection powerfully display what have become Lydia Davis's trademarks―dexterity, brevity, understatement, and surprise. Although the certainty of her prose suggests a world of almost clinical reason and clarity, her characters show us that life, thought, and language are full of disorder. Break It Down is Davis at her best. In the words of Jonathan Franzen, she is "a magician of self-consciousness."
drink were an act of great intimacy. It did not become any easier for us to communicate, but we found more and more things to do together. He helped me prepare for winter by filling the chinks in my walls and stacking wood for the fireplace. After we had worked, we would go out into the fields and the forest. My friend showed me the places he liked to visit—a grove of hawthorns, a rabbit warren, and a cave in the hillside—and though I had only one thing that I could show him, he seemed to find
room where, quite rightly, he had slept, and where he was by now no more than a sort of vapor. They shook him out of the mattress, brushed him over the floor, wiped him off the windowpane, and never knew what they had done. How W. H. Auden Spends the Night in a Friend’s House: The only one awake, the house quiet, the streets darkened, the cold pressing down through his covers, he is unwilling to disturb his hosts and thus, first, his fetal curl, his search for a warm hollow in the
didn’t move. After several hours in which the pain intensified and my husband and I grew more and more uneasy, we left the apartment and walked out into the dark streets of Paris to look for help. We were first directed to the ground-floor apartment of a nurse who lived not far away, and she then directed us to a hospital. We walked on some way and found the hospital in the rue de Vaugirard. It was old and quite dark, as though it didn’t do much business anymore. Inside, I waited on a folding
the voice of her family and is pleased with herself and happy. Her softness against her brothers’ brutality, her calm against their destruction, is admired. But when there are two sisters, one is uglier and more clumsy than the other, one is less clever, one is more promiscuous. Even when all the better qualities unite in one sister, as most often happens, she will not be happy, because the other, like a shadow, will follow her success with green eyes. Two sisters grow up at different times and
notice, say, once she was lying on her back but now she’s curled around me, I look at her closed eyes, I want to kiss her eyelids, I want to feel that soft skin under my lips, but I don’t want to disturb her, I don’t want to see her frown as though in her sleep she has forgotten who I am and feels just that something is bothering her and so I just look at her and hold on to it all, these times when I’m watching over her sleep and she’s next to me and isn’t away from me the way she will be later,