‘The Cows’, by Lydia Davis

In which Davis (or her narrator, though it matters not a jot) presents a series of statements and questions about three cows that live in a field near her house. At times it seems like an exercise in Wittgensteinian philosophy, at times like a children’s book for adults, at times like the painful birth throes of nature writing. All three possibilities, devolve, of course to the simple, stringent testing of words against the world that is Davis’s stock-in-trade. Not a story by any of your usual parameters, but utterly beguiling.

(first printed as a chapbook, but I read it in Electric Literature Vol 2; also collected in Can’t and Won’t)

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