Sunday, November 13, 2005

Back to Basics

I've been so busy lately that the reading and film-watching has dropped off. For the first time ever I've had the same three Netflix DVDs unwatched for a week! But I've been working on this Lydia Davis collection. I almost chucked it after the first couple of stories because there's a fine line between "experiments with form" and publishing what are no more than unfinished sketches of unwritten stories, but I think "Old Mother and The Grouch" is just great because it's sad and cute and funny and recognizably true:

"I'm going to put on some music," says the Grouch.
Old Mother is immediately nervous.
"Put on something easy," she says.
"I know that whatever I put on, you won't like it," he says.
"Just don't put on Messiaen," she says. "I'm too tired for Messiaen."

I swear Cha and I have had that exact conversation.

Overall, a spotty effort. Mostly filler, with a few interesting stories and a handful of excellent ones. I think the Amazon marketing software recommended this to me because I bought Stephen Dixon. Fuck that software...Lydia Davis has nothing on Dixon, and she's no Gilbert Sorrentino either. This is of course only one of her collections, however, so let's not be too harsh--any collection with a handful of excellent stories is rather good.

Pevear and Volokhonsky hit another one out of the park. Their new Dostoevsky translations have allowed me to re-visit that favorite writer's works with new spirit. This is no exception (tho I'm only half through). Prince Myshkin is somehow a surrogate reader of this novel--more on that later, after I finish.