‘Break It Down’ by Lydia Davis

I bought the big doorstep of collected stories a few years back and wolfed the whole thing right down, fully agape, all in one go, so that my belief got totally suspended and for a few days everything became Davisworld:  totally deadpan and credulous.

I pressed this copy on a friend and never got it back and I was happy, actually, just with the impression that these stories had left. But then just recently I found a different collection of hers at my boyfriend’s house and I dipped into it one morning while he was making coffee and somehow it wasn’t the same at all. It seemed flat and puny, not at all like the stories I’d been carrying around with me all this time. So, I bought another copy of the collected stories just to check, but I’ve been too wary to open it until by chance I heard this one read by a kind American voice (a Judy Blume voice, a Sesame Street voice) on the radio a few weeks back and there I was all agape again.

First published in The Paris Review. Collected in Break It Down, FSG, 1986. Also in The Collected Stories of Lydia Davies, Penguin, 2009. Hear ‘Break it Down’ read aloud here

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