Can’t and Won’t, by Lydia Davis. Book report #5 (2023)

Can’t and Won’t, by Lydia Davis. Pub 2014.

This was another gift in my Christmas bounty. I don’t recall where I heard about Lydia Davis – likely on some other blog or podcast. This book includes many very short stories – some only a few lines or paragraphs. It reminded me of a book I read several years ago – There is No Long Distance Now, by Naomi Shihab Nye – which is also comprised of very short stories. Two key differences – Nye’s approach was deliberate, a challenge to write stories of less than 1,000 words each, and the stories were each separate and very good. Davis’ work, not to so much.

There are several entries that are “dreams”, and are quite literally Davis’ and other’s recollections of dreams. There are also some entries that are re-workings of diary entries from Gustave Flaubert. In between are longish entries that cover all manner of topics from travel, fashion, history, and family. While the writing was good and it was easy enough to finish the entire collection, it overall felt like a waste of time. Not bad, but not good either.

Fate: going soon to charity

8 – a book with a female author
18 – a book of short stories
25 – a new author to me
27 – a gift

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