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Can't and Won't Hardcover – 3 Apr 2014


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Can't and Won't + The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (3 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 024114664X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241146644
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.9 x 20.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 274,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

To read Davis is to become a co-conspirator in her way of existing in the world, perplexity combined with vivid observation . . . In a universe drowning in words, Davis is a respite. What she doesn't say is as important as what she does (New York Times Book Review)

Can't and Won't is the most revolutionary collection of stories by an American in twenty-five years (John Freeman Boston Globe)

Short, shorter and brilliant: a unique and dazzling body of work (Oregonian)

Astonishing, touching, memorable, extraordinary . . . Even at her most poetic Davis is a storyteller (Radar)

Profound, beautiful, moving . . . You will go back to a little gem that has wormed its way into your mind and stuck there, and discover that it is indeed a little gem, which sparkles a different way each time and flashes with a brief beauty or hidden meaning (Susan Hill Spectator)

Psychological richness, frequent poignancy . . . Davis hints insistently at how abundant nothingness can be when we bother to look at it (Joshua Cohen Times Literary Supplement)

Can't and Won't shows Davis using precise language to articulate the kind of ideas and impressions which are usually left to float around the subconscious (Max Liu The Independent)

I am also a massive fan of Lydia Davis so was really excited about Can't and Won't (Lauren Mayberry The Observer)

About the Author

Lydia Davis is the author of Collected Stories, one novel and six short story collections, the most recent of which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and was named a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government for her fiction and her translations of modern writers, including Gustave Flaubert and Marcel Proust. She won the Man Booker International Prize in 2013.

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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
This collection is, if nothing else, interesting. There are pithy pieces consisting of no more than a line, to at its longest, a confessional and touching bit of autobiographical fiction about the narrator and her relationship with her half-sister, entitled "The Seals", which is all of 27 pages, and possibly the most 'complete' story in terms of a conventional narrative.

That Davis is anything but conventional is immediately apparent in the form and content of most her stories. They range from letters to hotel managers and board directors, which reveal the characters of the letter writer, often disorganised, meandering and unfocused, to lists, one of which "Local Obits", literally contain the paras of obituaries. There is something touching and resonant about this random compiling, and pushes the envelope for what is deemed acceptable as narrative fiction, though the intent and effect is ambiguous. There are also pieces which look like work-in-progress story ideas and surrealistic dream sequences, the latter of which I must admit, capture in words rather well the often illogical yet vivid sequences that one encounters in dreamscapes. Elsewhere, Flaubert's correspondence is cited as the source for some of the pieces.

On the whole, this makes a really curious work, for a living author. The stories seem more like posthumous pieces collected to give a glimpse of the genius and working process of a departed writer, and one can't help but think that a more finished product should precede this collection. However, judging from a peek at Davis's earlier works, that is clearly not the case.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By terence dooley on 23 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
Some of these stories are poems, some jokes, all are serious, intelligent and interesting, and they could all only have been written by Lydia Davis. With Anne Carson, she's the best experimental cross-genre writer in English, and hugely enjoyable.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Bevan on 12 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some very interesting takes on short-story writing here. Gave me lots to think about and hopefully use in my own writing.
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