My review of Break it Down, a much earlier entry in Lydia Davis' ouevre, last year was a bit of damning with faint praise:

Very solid and nothing but that.

It is hard for me to say how much of this is subjective vs. how much of this is objective, but I am here to tell you that this collection represents a much stronger achievement, and I am very glad to have read it. Maybe it is reading this book so soon after The Faraway Nearby that I am primed to glean much more about what Davis has to say about family, age, and the compacts we make with each other through communication — maybe it is overindexing on The Walk, a spiral staircase of flash fiction that strikes me as a pinnacle of the form. Maybe it is just the open mind of a reader with another year under his belt.

(There are times that Davis' commitment to postmodernism feel more exhausting than enlightening — Helen and Vi, for instance, is beautiful but makes its point in the first ten pages and drags for an additional twenty — but those times are fleeting.)

What else I can say is limited: I think Davis is extremely original, and I think this collection was a strong marriage of her voice and her worldview. I had a lot of fun reading it.


Lightning bolt
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