Lydia Davis is one of those writers who defies categorization. Short story writer? Poet? Social critic? Satirist? She is arguably all of the above. Can’t and Won’t, her most recent collection of short stories (a term used loosely here), is largely made up of entries that barely fill a page. One reviewer has described her stories as bite-sized – as if they are tastes of a moment, place, or experience. A MacArthur Award winner and superb translator of Proust and Flaubert, Davis is also a master at evoking the absurdity and comedy of everyday life, sometimes in the form of a letter, comment, or dream fragment. But she doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the human condition either, confronting with raw candor the anxieties that come with contemplations of death, loneliness, and other life mysteries. Most of all, her writing is a testament to the power of brevity and exactitude in prose.
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