Monday, December 12, 2011

Break it Down, 64/100

I mentioned the other day about blogspot farting and causing me to lose my whole post on Lydia Davis. I'm not rewriting the entire thing because that would require rereading all of Break it Down to find all the passages I marked. Maybe another time.

So why aren't the passages still marked? Well, dear imaginary reader, it's because I removed all the post-its when I went to have my book signed by Lydia Davis. It just so happened that she was having a reading at my alma mater. I found out after I had already mooched a few of her books on a recommendation.

Her reading was good, and mostly from new unpublished material. She shared one piece that she had rough-written that morning. I admit it was difficult to pay full attention to her, since there was a student in front of me practicing her cross stitching for the entire duration.

I should mention that my alma mater is a women's college. Of which, every year, a portion of the student population has an "embrace the textile arts" movement; a way of empowering an art consistently overlooked because of its association with women. But really it's an excuse to knit ugly fucking scarves during class and pretend you're doing something profound. I fail to see how it's empowering to ignore the visit of a highly successful, internationally recognized female author, just so you can cross stitch the Little Mermaid on a fucking pillow.

Despite the seething beams of hatred I directed towards this young woman for upwards of 90 minutes, I remained calm enough to wait around for Davis to sign books afterward. Where surprisingly (stupidly) there wasn't a line. Kids these days! (shakes fist, yells at cloud)

Our short exchange was appropriately awkward -- Davis often writes awkward, almost autistic characters, probably why I like her so much -- and I left with a signed book and a very sad soul. On the way home I stopped by Krogers and bought "sad soul" food, i.e. barbecue potato chips and soda.

Blogspot decided to erase all the passages I had already copied over from Break it Down, so I'm just going to share with you one of her short stories, my favorite from this collection.

From "The Fish":

She stands over a fish, thinking about certain irrevocable mistakes she has made today. Now the fish has been cooked, and she is alone with it. The fish is for her--there is no one else in the house. But she has had a troubling day. How can she eat this fish, cooling on a slab of marble? And yet the fish, too, motionless as it is, and dismantled from its bones, and fleeced of its silver skin, has never been so completely alone as it is now: violated in a final manner and regarded with a weary eye by this woman who has made the latest mistake of her day and done this to it.

Love every word of that. Wonderful.

Writing a short story now called "The Barbecue Potato Chip."

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