CAN’T AND WON’T
Hamish Hamilton, $29.99 hb, 289 pp, 9780241146644
Reading Lydia Davis’s stories is akin to getting new glasses – or glasses for the first time. Suddenly the world shifts into sharp, bright focus. Disturbing. Disorienting. What you see, or understand, won’t necessarily gladden your heart. It may pique it, but you may not want to be brought so close to life, to the poignancy of it all. Not at first, anyway.
Davis seems to think so too. Or she plays at thinking so. ‘Oh, we writers may think we invent too much – but reality is worse every time!’ she says, at the end of a perfect fourteen-line narrative (called ‘The Funeral’) translated from Flaubert.