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Ory as she attempts to organize her memories of a love affair into a novel With compassion wit and what appears to be candor she seeks to determine what she actually know Minimalist Fiction and Self AwarenessDavis s minimalist voice which I find myself mimicking in this review always a sign of a style s power to inhabit the imagination and control the pen is not at all the usual minimalism This novel is life with its content subtracted away It s about a love affair but we are scarcely told anything about what either person looks like We hear in passing that the narrator likes to identify species of grass and spiders but we aren t given any names of grasses or spiders She falls in love with a man but we have no idea what kind of person he is They are both attached to a university but we hear next to nothing about what they study or teach She is a translator of French but there is no French in the book That is especially unusual think of other Francophiles like Wallace Stevens or John Ashbery who can t help thinking through French Nothing has content everything is told as her recollections of actions and places In this contentless and abstract world the writer s voice is all we have We listen as she wonders whether her memories are correct and admits that some art not We hear her descriptions of her own behavior always written as if she were at some remove from them When she is suffering most acutely from the absence of the man she fell in love with we hear that she seems to see herself from a distance That is the book s strangest moment We have always seen her from a distance What kind of narrator could construct a novel so impeccably abstracted from the proper names and the direct emotions of life and then say that in her memory she was only abstracted in that way during a short period of grief The book is psychologically unusual deeply sympathetic sad and detached but also at the same time entirely perverse and because of that perversity incomprehensible The book is in its own way a masterpieceNote added in winter 2017Some years after I wrote this I visited Davis at her farmhouse It was after the publication of Cows and she was increasingly central to American writing I wonder about the effect all that might have on the carelessness of the minimalism in this book which seems sometimes untended The recent work has been aware of its subtractions faced outward toward an audience that already expects certain kinds of reticence and abbreviation curated and wary of preciousness I wonder then if Davis s work suggests two ways to be minimalist the first commoner kind in which an author knows she is performing minimalist gestures and the second rarer and interesting kind in which an author is growing into awareness of her minimalisms Devoted to Drew years after I wrote this I visited Davis at her farmhouse It was after the publication of Cows and she was increasingly central to American writing I wonder about the effect all that might have on the carelessness of the minimalism in this book which seems sometimes untended The recent work has been aware of its subtractions faced outward toward an audience that already expects certain kinds of reticence and abbreviation curated and wary of preciousness I wonder then if Davis s work suggests two ways to be minimalist the first commoner kind in which an author knows she is performing minimalist gestures and the second rarer and interesting kind in which an author is growing into awareness of her minimalisms

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The End of the Story

S about herself and her past but we begin to suspect along with her that given the elusiveness of memory and understanding any tale retrieved from the past must be fictio I made it than half way through this basic retread of some short stories Lydia Davis has previously written and published Seems she writes a bit here and there about a boy and her relationship and perhaps a bit about a girl and her relationship and sometimes about both of them and her relationship with them all and by the time I get to where I am I am so tired and too tired of reading this boring tale of nothing Ray Johnson the artist whose last act was a performance piece in which he leaves a trail of friends who all know a piece of him but no one knows his all goes and kills himself by drowning in a river Ray used to do performance pieces in the city and called them plays about nothing He had a loyal following and somebody made a movie about his life that was very interesting It was called How to Draw a Bunny Let me give you an example of how Ray operated If a buyer of his hard art only could afford to pay say three uarters of what Ray s asking price was then after a bit of haggling back and forth Ray would graciously accept the deal collect the money and send the buyer three uarters of the piece Whatever became of the leftover pieces of Ray s art remain a mystery at least to me In this novel by Lydia Davis I often noticed a short story of hers that I had already seen elsewhere in other of her collections For example Story from her first collection of short stories titled Break It Down tells how the narrator s boyfriend couldn t see her before she was to embark on a trip very early the next morning so she stays up all night in her obsessive search to find out why She makes several trips back and forth to his apartment several phone calls and she meets him or talks to him but never uite believes his story and she shouldn t The names in this story were changed in the novel but the story is the same story as the text entered into her novel This happens often in here Too often for me It is lame and is a poor way to garner loyalty from me I had already purchased from the The Collected Stories based on the one superb story I read in the collection Fakes An Anthology of Pseudo Interviews Faux Lectures uasi Letters Found Texts and Other Fraudulent Artifacts edited by David Shields and Matthew Vollmer The Lydia Davis Funeral Parlor story was about a letter she wrote to a funeral home about the attendant naming what was left of her father after his cremation his cremains I thought the letter so clever and brilliant and so well written that I bought the entire Lydia Davis collected short story work and now I almost wish I hadn t The book arrived in the mail today and it matched the description online so I can t send it back I guess I will see of what is in it when I have time and space to do so this coming mid winter But the few stories I have already read in my perusal of it as I have had the book on loan to me from the library and I have decided to return it to the library tomorrow in addition to returning the novel which I also borrowed from the library is that Davis is at the very least a re treader and not at all an original novelist Or she is senile Or she has dementia In the meantime I have to abandon her novel today because it is driving me crazy trying to read it It is even a daunting prospect to pick the book up to read when I have Extinction now taking a back seat In fact just a few moments ago I did try to pick the book up to continue on with my reading and the feeling of dread was killing me My eyes floated down below that novel to see EXTINCTION resting there so elegantly and noble at the bottom of my pile of now four books I am currently reading that sit on my end table by my chair in my personal reading library To think I had temporarily set down this particular novel by Thomas Bernhard in order to read this drivel ahead of finishing this great one I am so sorry Thomas I got excited Forgive me I thought I had discovered another living genius in our midst But it is possible she is the real deal of short story writers Just don t tell me I should have stayed with her and the novel until the end because the novel gets so much better later If that is the case and I really do not doubt that this may be true then she should have started there

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Mislabeled boxes problems with visiting nurses confusing notes an outing to the county fair such are the obstacles in the way of the unnamed narrator of The End of the St There is some kind of style in this book that made me like it That style is strange and I did not know how Davis was able to walk away with it1 No plot2 No dialogues3 Started the 1st person narration unreliable with the ending of the story4 Time period went back and forth with no pattern5 Unnecessary characters events musingsIt s an endless recollection of the unnamed narration s failed love story with a man 12 years her senior The narrator is a college literature professor and a translator Her boyfriend is a jobless young man penniless and dabbles in writing poetry Both of them are trying to write their first books They live together they probably are having sex Although Davis chose not to mention sex she also did not mention I carefully waited for this while reading love That is a unusual strange feat she was able to write a book about her love story without mentioning sex and even love Point this book is emotionally cunning It talks about love yet it is not mushy not even sentimental Is that possible Yes you have to read between the lines and interpret what the characters are doing and probably bring in your own stories of failed love affairs and you will know what I am trying to say hereThis is not for everyone though as the narration goes on and on If you don t pay attention to what she is saying you ll say that all her blubbering is rubbish It is like listening to an old friend Hey we don t listen to everything that our friends say right They are friends but sometimes they talk rubbish too Well as I was saying let s say you had a friend in high school that you accidentally bumped with one afternoon You decided to go to a caf and catch up with each other s lives You asked how she was She said okay Then you remembered that she used to date another friend back during the time you all were in high school She said that her relationship with him did not work out You asked why Then she started to tell you everything about it Will you listen Are you interested If that friend was Lydia Davis I would 239 pages of brilliant writing She Lydia Davis was the first wife of Sir Paul Auster And this failed love seems to be their love story


10 thoughts on “The End of the Story

  1. says:

    There is some kind of style in this book that made me like it That style is strange and I did not know how Davis was able to walk away with it1 No plot2 No dialogues3 Started the 1st person narration unreliable with the ending of the story4 Time period went back and forth with no pattern5 Unnecessary characters events musingsIt’

  2. says:

    Fuck That's really all I can say

  3. says:

    15 starsRub enough elbows with the literary cognoscenti you're bound to hear glowing praise about Lydia Davis'

  4. says:

    One of the few books I come back to over and over again I have never read anything uite like this nearly plotless dialogue less book detailing the slow decline of a relationship The tone is hauntingly lonely and there is never a ues

  5. says:

    Minimalist Fiction and Self AwarenessDavis's minimalist voice which I find myself mimicking in this review always a sign of a style's power to inhabit the imagination and control the pen is not at all the usual minimalism This novel is life with its content subtracted away It's about a love affair but we are scarcely told

  6. says:

    I always cry at endingsThis is the way in which we learn to let go while holding onBecause when loss lessens us to the point that love's lessons leave us spent less is Sometimes it takes a certain sort of numbness—time work drugs sleep food— to know how to begin to feel againBecause there are parts of the he

  7. says:

    Senryu ReviewSupreme break up bookin stark self aware prose trumpsall night make up sex

  8. says:

    I made it than half way through this basic retread of some short stories Lydia Davis has previously written and published Seems she writes a bit here and there about a boy and her relationship and perhaps a bit about a girl and her relationshi

  9. says:

    How much do I adore Lydia Davis I like her writing because no one is able to categorize it Sometimes a work of hers that appears in a prose magazine will also appear in a poetry magazine the same exact piece of writing I lov

  10. says:

    It seems like every sentence in this book was carefully constructed to convey the maximum amount of sadness any pe

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