‘The Centre of the Story’ by Lydia Davis

This comes close to the end of the story as it is now, but she can’t really end with the devil and a train ride. So the end of the story is a problem, too, though less of a problem than the centre. There may be no centre. There may be no centre because she is afraid to put any one of these elements in the centre – the man, the religion, or the hurricane. Or – which is or is not the same thing – there is a centre but the centre is empty, either because she has not found what belongs there or because it is meant to be empty: there, but empty, in the same way that the man was sick but not dying, the hurricane approached but did not strike, and she had a religious calm but no faith.It was so hard to choose just one Lydia Davis story, because they have such an incredible cumulative effect. I chose this one because the ending of it – this paragraph – is taped above my desk. 

First published in Grand Street, Vol. 9, No. 1, Autumn, 1989. Collected in Almost No Memory, FSG, 1997/Picador, 2001. Also in the Collected Stories

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