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Can't and Won't [Hardcover]

Lydia Davis
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 April 2014

Can't and Won't is the new collection from Lydia Davis, one of the greatest short story writers alive.

Lydia Davis has been universally acclaimed for the wit, insight and genre-defying formal inventiveness of her sparkling stories.

With 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 surprising.

Above 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.

Praise for Lydia Davis:

'What stories. Precise and piercing, extremely funny. Nearly all are unlike anything you've ever read' Metro

'To read The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis is to be reminded of the grand, echoing mind-chambers created by Sebald or recent Coetzee. A writer of vast intelligence and originality' Independent on Sunday

'Among my most favourite writers. Read her now!' - A.M. Homes

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.

--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (8 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374118582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374118587
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,958,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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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) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny, poetic, disturbing, truthful, memorable 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 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and different 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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5 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How is it possible? 1 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is a very badly written book. I don't understand how the author could receive so many good reviews. Her book on Cows is even worse, sorry to say!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get enough Lydia Davis 20 April 2014
By Kendra B - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lydia Davis continues her dialogue with the world in this new collection of stories. Davis creates a space for thinking, realizing, and understanding our own intellectual process, by giving us a lens to look through. Her observations and the way she articulates them is sharp and distinct. Reading her writing changes me in small wonderful ways.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lydia Davis's Lures 29 May 2014
By Norman A. Bert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Stories? Well not exactly. But these observations, sketches, and snippets work their way under your skin. Read just one while limiting yourself to a single potato chip.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Off the boil 29 Jun 2014
By tony covatta - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was disappointed in Lydia Davis's latest collection of "stories." This one contains the usual collection of aphoristic one or two liners, a few of her characteristic page and a half plays on themes or tropes, some very short traditional stories, and at least one full length masterfully done longer story, "The Seals" which I would recommend to anyone. There are also some pointless short sketches of dreams of hers and her friends, and reworkings of scenes from Flaubert.

All of it is delivered in very well done prose, but I found too much of it pointless and cold, and when Ms. Davis reveals herself, as many of the snippets seem autobiographical, the persona that emerges is of a person who is not very engaging, indeed is a bit cranky and self-centered. Something has happened to her sensibility since she wrote the stories contained in her Collected Stories. There she came across as quirky, but plucky and engaging, willing to risk a bit of herself in exploring her situation in the world. Here she seems a smaller person, with a jaundiced point of view. An irritating example is the somewhat longish letter to the hotel manager where she takes the hotel to task for placing "schrod" on the menu, insisting that there is no such thing as schrod. Of course, there is. Schrod is young cod. I've known this for years. If she was intending to portray the narrator as an irritable and irritating pedant, on purpose, she did so, but at what a cost. The story, like most of this collection was to this reader only irritating, riddled with a solipsism that I did not find enjoyable. Ironically many of the successful stories she wrote earlier had to do with her divorce or the deaths and declines of her mother and father. Difficulty brought out the best in her. Has success spoiled Lydia Davis?

If you must read this after enjoying her Collected Stories, read "The Seals," "Local Obits" and the one toward the end about attending a wedding and what you see and don't see, "If at the Wedding (At the Zoo)." These are very good stories, showing she can still write at a very high level. Perhaps she simply cannot sustain the seriocomic vision necessary for that level of effort any more. Time will tell, if she continues to write.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sorry, Lydia 20 July 2014
By eva b. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm an ardent Lydia Davis fan, but this is not my favorite. There are some winners here, but some that feel like inert fillers.
Understood that she is an important translator of French literature, but those pieces seem inappropriate in this collection.
Maybe that's another book. I'm having a bit of a slog to finish this book. Some of it just feels tired and forced (to earn the publisher's advance). With regrets . . .
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars no one else will like this book the way I like this book 28 Jun 2014
By Queen E - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Did you read Brautigan when you were younger? Did you like his work? If so, and you are now older and just little more jaded, you might like this book by Lydia Davis. "Can't and Won't: Stories," hermaneutically familiar, amuses, defies analysis, and deftly summons a sense of wonder and delight. I never dreamed I would read a story I love as much as "Cows." There is no point in describing it further because it is as a mirror: your experience of it will be unparalleled.
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