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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

One longer story in Lydia Davis's Can't and Won't

Probably just to show that she can do it, Lydia Davis includes in her collection Can't and Won't a largely conventional personal essay (well, maybe it's fiction? we don't really know and, after all, how sharp is the dividing line?), The Seals, about the death of her older sister, a family gathering for her services, the near-simultaneous death of her father, a lament for the opportunities missed for closer relationship with (considerably) older sister, a lament for passing time, all encapsulated in a train ride - seemingly from NYC or maybe New England through Phila and into the countryside, on a holiday - most likely xmas day - with thoughts and notes on the passing landscape and the evoked memories (very Proustian again - Proust's fascination with train travel is another one of his peculiarities, which I think many of his admirers, myself included, mysteriously share - the fact that train travel is today nearly vestigial just adds to its allure). Ther'es obviously a lot in this story - not sure it's actually among the best in this collection - there's no doubt that the shorter, more enigmatic pieces are what have established Davsis's voice and style - but its inclusion adds depth and some balance to the volume, makes us appreciate even more the concision of some of its companions in this volume, which I will emulate and honor by keeping this post short as well.

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