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ANSWER Can t and Won t QUESTION Will I read another book of stories by Lydia Davis More LD equals a triple chocolate and fudge surprise minus the week long sickness and hours straining at stool This is another characteristic assemblage of micro stories and longer mental peregrinations, narrated in that gentle intellectual register Among the longer pieces The Landing evokes the terror of turbulence on a routine passenger flight, The Dreadful Mucamas is a surreal and satirical tale of misbehaving Mexican servants, The Cows details the complex movements and behaviours of random bovines, The Seals is a deep meditation on the loss of Davis s sister and parents, and Letter to the Foundation is a matter of fact account of the downside to receiving Genius Grants These longer stories are excellent except Davis s voice can be flat and less charming over five or six pages Among the shorter pieces Letter to a Frozen Peas Manufacturer laments the misrepresentation of peas on the packaging, The Bad Novel sums up that Stockholm effect of hated tomes, Brief Incident and Reversible Story are playful Oulipian numbers, Men reminds us there are men in the world, and The Language of the Telephone Company is hilarious The trouble you reported recently is now working properly Also included are dream stories and stories adapted from Flaubert s letters, lending this collection a pleasant quirk alongside the LD originals. 3 stars My first LD didn t really leave the best impression It s the kind of book that gets published on the strength of a writer s already solid reputation.A mixed bag lots of meh, some pretty impressive stories, esp those translated expanded upon from Flaubert.Her prose is sharp shines in stories like The Dog Hair, the Reversible Story, but the voice that comes across in Eating Fish Alone, The dreadful Mucamas, is highly annoying, almost analWhat passes here for Stories are basically writing exercises, observations, mood pieces, prose haiku kind of thing Most of the stories seem to be coming from her own life, for example, Letter to a Frozen Peas Manufacturer, forms part of a correspondence that Davis had with the company of Green Giant brand of frozen products, hence those readers, who care about the authorial voice, will be very put off by the uptight, at times whiny voice alternating with the supercilious look at me, ain t I a genius, kind of vibe here.A typical example of both writerly excellence readerly bafflement would be the story The Cows now, in Mr Palomar, Italo Calvino describes the underside of a gecko as seen from the room of the titular character s upper window in a couple of brisk paragraphs, makes it seem like the amazing mystery of Creation Here, Ms Davis, is clearly delighting in the writerly process but it seems like a challenge set for creative writing students Here, you have to write on a couple of donkeys doing the things donkeys usually do now give it your best shot Something like that.Here s a sample view spoiler The CowsEach new day, when they come out from the far side of the barn, it is like the next act, or the start of an entirely new play.They amble into view from the far side of the barn with their rhythmic, graceful walk, and it is an occasion, like the start of a parade.Sometimes the second and third come out in stately procession after the first has stopped and stands still, staring.They come from behind the barn as though something is going to happen, and then nothing happens.Or we pull back the curtain in the morning and they are already there, in the early sunlight.They are a deep, inky black It is a black that swallows light.Their bodies are entirely black, but they have white on their faces On the faces of two of them, there are large patches of white, like a mask On the face of the third, there is only a small patch on the forehead, the size of a silver dollar.They are motionless until they move again, one foot and then another fore, hind, fore, hind and stop in another place, motionless again.So often they are standing completely still Yet when I look up again a few minutes later, they are in another place, again standing completely still.When they all three stand bunched together in a far corner of the field by the woods, they form one dark irregular mass, with twelve legs.They are often crowded together in the large field But sometimes they lie down far apart from one another, evenly spaced over the grass.Today, two appear halfway out from behind the barn, standing still Ten minutes go by Now they are all the way out, standing still Another ten minutes go by Now the third is out and they are all three in a line, standing still.The third comes out into the field from behind the barn when the other two have already chosen their spots, quite far apart She can choose to join either one She goes deliberately to the one in the far corner Does she prefer the company of that cow, or does she prefer that corner, or is it complicated that that corner seems appealing because of the presence of that cow Their attention is complete, as they look across the road They are still, and face us.Just because they are so still, their attitude seems philosophical.I see them most often out the kitchen window over the top of a hedge My view of them is bounded on either side by leafy trees I am surprised that the cows are so often visible, because the portion of the hedge over which I see them is only about three feet long, and, even puzzling, if I hold my arm straight out in front of me, the field of my vision in which they are grazing is only the length of half a finger Yet that field of vision contains a part of their grazing field that is hundreds of square feet in area.That one s legs are moving, but because she is facing us directly she seems to be staying in one place Yet she is getting bigger, so she must be coming this way.One of them is in the foreground and two are farther back, in the middle ground between her and the woods In my field of vision, they occupy together in the middle ground the same amount of space she occupies alone in the foreground.Because there are three, one of them can watch what the other two are doing together.Or, because there are three, two can worry about the third, for instance the one lying down They worry about her even though she often lies down, even though they all often lie down Now the two worried ones stand at angles to the other, with their noses down against her, until at last she gets up.They are nearly the same size, and yet one is the largest, one the middle sized, and one the smallest.One thinks there is a reason to walk briskly to the far corner of the field, but another thinks there is no reason, and stands still where she is.At first she stands still where she is, while the first walks away briskly, but then she changes her mind and follows hide spoiler You know how sometimes you come on here, and look at the reviews other readers have left, and thought, Well, okay, I guess I ll keep going Then you finish and find yourself wondering how the book has so many 4 and 5 star reviews That s where I am right now I don t mind the occasional super short short story that s fine In fact, my favorite of this entire book was just that entitled Housekeeping Observation , the entire story is this, Under all this dirt the floor is really very clean Which, frankly, anyone who s ever had to clean has probably had a thought like that And that s the only reason this book is getting two stars, because I was feeling generous due to that above sentence But there were some stories that were just lists Some of which, sadly, were interesting than the longer stories. Some of this reminds me of My Struggle Book One Sort of like Knausgaard crossed with Steven Wright She has a better sense of humor than Karl Ove though.The stories challenge you to consider what is a story They don t always have a beginning, a middle, and an end They are not poetry They are playing, playful sometimes Some are just pithy observations This might be overstating it in some cases Just observations then Waiting to take on whatever significance the reader chooses Like the art I saw in the Tate a couple of years ago it was a simple mirror As clever as you want it to be Her little notebook is wrapped in an elastic band, easily retrievable from her purse Then she can record the inside of her mind Or her dreams Or escape routes from the latest passage of Flaubert that she is translating.These feel like I am reading her workbook, her kernels of inspiration Sometimes they re not even that, they re just a documentation stream done in the hopes that a nugget will shine through We are held hostage by the expectation that something will show up Lydia and Karl are holding us hostageI had never before thought so clearly about all the scenes that took place when I wasn t there to witness them And then, I had a stranger and less pleasant thought not only was I not necessary to those scenes, and not necessary to those lives that continued to go on without me, but in fact, I was not necessary at all I didn t have to existThis is a startling observation, to be reminded again how very small and inconsequential one is It is disquieting.She taught my daughter and me the meaning of schwa, as in Brief Incident in Short a, Long a, and Schwa This is the whole storyCat, gray tabby, calm, watches large, black ant Man, rapt, stands staring at cat and ant Ant advances along path Ant halts, baffled Ant back tracks fast straight at cat Cat, alarmed, backs away Man, standing, staring, laughs Ant changes path again Cat, calm again, watches againEvery word contains the letter a , except the title Schwa is a word When I read out the definition of schwa, my daughter said, Aah I wonder if that completes some sort of transaction between writer and reader.I prefer this to the murder mystery I was reading yesterday Because I don t know what s going to happen in this book Every page is a surpriseHousekeeping Observation Under all this dirt the floor is really very cleanShe reads my mind How I Read as Quickly as Possible Through my Back Issues of the TLS She reads my mind again The Language of Things in the House makes me wonder if I were a bowl, what would I say.I think this collection, written by an author famous for brevity, could have done with a bit selective editingPlease spare me your imagination I m so tired of your vivid imagination, let someone else enjoy it The title story is the cover story Literally It is on the cover of some editions I was recently denied a writing prize because, they said, I was lazy What they meant by lazy was that I used too many contractions for instance, I would not write out in full the words cannot and will not, but instead contracted them to can t and won t There are not aren t a lot of contractions.I don t think she is lazy. I m calling a case of the Emperor has no clothes I am amazed at the number of 4 and 5 star reviews of this, people calling it brilliant 20 something pages of descriptions of cows walking and standing 5 pages of lines from obituaries The interminable Letter to the Foundation I forced myself to slog through this, thinking it had to get better or that at some point a light bulb would go on and I d get it , but I don t think there s anything to get I have never read Lydia Davis before but I ve heard of her and gathered that this book is meant to be Great Literature Maybe some of her work is, and I m willing to try something else, but I ve written shopping lists interesting than the stories in this book. One of my favorites, which I find disturbingly easy to relate to as a person who often engages in solitary, futile lashing out at the heavens sessions The old vacuum cleaner keeps dying on herover and overuntil at last the cleaning womanscares it by yelling Motherfucker This book would normally be the type of thing I would love a bunch of wittle snippies with lots of thoughts conveyed in limited language but there just weren t many that stuck to my guts There were very few longer stories, but those mostly dragged except the one about the servant sisters, which was exceptional It was good enough, though, that I feel pretty sure there s a Davis collection out there just for me I am currently accepting suggestions. *Download Book ⇨ Can't and Won't: Stories ☠ Can T And Won T Is The New Collection From Lydia Davis, One Of The Greatest Short Story Writers AliveLydia Davis Has Been Universally Acclaimed For The Wit, Insight And Genre Defying Formal Inventiveness Of Her Sparkling StoriesWith Titles Like A Story Of Stolen Salamis , Letters To A Frozen Pea Manufacturer , A Small Story About A Small Box Of Chocolates , And Can T And Won T , The Stories In This New Collection Illuminate Particular Moments In Ordinary Lives And Find In Them The Humorous, The Ironic And The SurprisingAbove All The Stories Revel In And Grapple With The Joys And Constraints Of Language Achieving Always The Extraordinary, Unmatched Precision Which Makes Lydia Davis One Of The Greatest Contemporary Writers On The International Stage This is the first I ve read of Lydia Davis Immediately, the first microstory, A Story of Stolen Salamis, reminded me of Thomas Bernhard s collection The Voice Imitator, also microstories It was a pale imitation Two Undertakers, one of the better stories, was also reminiscent of Bernhard Roland Barthes watches two undertakers have a bite to eat while on the job Barthes deceased mother waits outside in one of the hearses And it s difficult not to think of Bernhard when reading d n von Horv th Out Walking, if only because of the setting in the Bavarian Alps.I didn t find much from the book jacket bracing candor In fact, mostly the opposite The subject of the book seems to be Davis s literary persona, and whoever the real Davis is, she s hiding behind that Not that this is a legitimate complaint after all, this is fiction Maybe self deprecation was meant by candor, rather than actual truth telling One small, but irksome, example of a lack of candor was in the story The Letter to the Foundation, one of two normal length stories Davis the narrator has just won a large grant presumably the MacArthur Fellows Award and is describing, years later, what winning the award was like Far into the story, she writes, Soon after the new year, I met with a tax advisor, and he gave me some bad news A large part of the grant would go to paying taxes on the grant First, for anyone of adult age, living in a developed country, why would this be news Does the narrator have no idea how our tax system works Does she think the monetary award was not income Second, why is there an exclamation point after on the grant on what other thing would the taxes be levied What s the point of this fake astonishment And my distaste for the weaseling in some of the stories was arrived at independently, before I read the claim that the book displayed bracing candor Nor was the supposed humor to my taste It was an omnipresent archness, a narrator who is, or is pretending to be, roguish, mischievous The complaint letters to companies whose products have let her down in some way are the best examples of this Again I have to contrast the supposed humor here to Bernhard s comedy, which genuinely works Maybe it works better because Bernhard is going for lunacy while Davis is mostly staying on the plane of the real although there are lots of brief dreams, her own and others , interspersed here Men is a story where she does achieve real comedy, probably because it is absurdist There are also men in the world Sometimes we forget, and think there are only women. Simply put, the writing is just not good, and the pieces individually and collectively are dull, bland, and without taste This book is like a burnt biscuit for me No amount of jam sweetened it up in fact the fluff, the I felt burned Obviously, I really hated this book I found it wordy and tiresome I rarely say I hate a book However, I read A LOT so it has to happen sometimes I guess Being a pretty fast reader, I see no reason after I buy a book to not finish it I kind of made this a rule for myself years ago Meaning, I buy it I must then finish it Usually, I thank myself for this rule because I get something albeit sometimes a very small something affective or affecting out of it This time, I m not so happy about my rule Even the shorter pieces lacked beauty and originality in my opinion So, so, so many of the longer stories were either irrelevant or should have been small vignettes or a poem I found myself picking out two or three sentences on several pages of the longer pieces that could have stood alone without the other paragraphs And I do not even mind a little wordiness or stream of consciousness if it is at least intriguing, but this was not The imagery fell flat over and over again, and the diction was pathetic I found the beginning better than the end I just became sad though as the book progressed because her voice was somewhat witty and fun in the beginning, and then it just got heavy, but without depth Just like wordiness, I don t mind heavy However, heavy, long, and over written is a hard combination, and I would NOT recommend wasting your time reading this book So there is my opinion of Can t and Won t Take it or leave it, fellow Goodreaders Sad face and a wave.