The Lydia Davis Project: Story

(This poem is a response to Lydia Davis’ short story ‘Story’)

Girl wants to know
It all.
She wants to know
It all, but he won’t
Be honest,
Be truthful,
Be straightforward
To her.

He leaves her mouth agape
With questions of
Did he?
Is he?
Will he?
Does he?
Or won’t he?

But she squirms in her seat
With a phone in her hand
And she calls him
And he listens
To her struggle
With herself,
Her words,
To be less nagging and neurotic.
Those things they so despise in her.

There is no escaping the
Desperate questions
We ask ourselves.
This is what
She says to rationalize
Her behaviour
As she drives over to his home,
His place of relaxation and rest.

Yes, she has work at 5 in the morning.
But no matter, as
This matter.
Bears more importance
For it’s a matter
Of the heart.

And so she goes there with
A pistol loaded with these
Impotent questions.
Finds herself faced
With more important questions
Of does it matter?
Will one or two or three
Answers ever be enough?

The Lydia Davis Project

Lydia Davis Stories

During my vacation with my family in Hong Kong I stumbled across an amazing bookstore known as Kubrick Bookstore, located in Yau Ma Tei. It wasn’t particularly huge but the selection was impressive and incredibly engrossing. They had a surprising amount of English books and the selection was up my alley (tons of plays, philosophy and contemporary fiction).

During my scoping out of the place I stumbled across The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis who I had heard about here and there and seen elsewhere. You see, Lydia Davis’ writing belongs to a literary style known as flash fiction. That is, short stories with an emphasis on short. There is apparently no specific length to determine flash fiction by, but generally no more than 1000 seems to be the rule of thumb.

So I ended up purchasing the book (because I have no willpower once something catches my eye), read some of it on the flight back, but haven’t picked it up since.

This morning, however, I started re-reading it from the beginning. I’ve decided a good way to pace myself with the book is to do a short story a day and turn it into a project in which I will write a response to each story in verse. And so there we have it: The Lydia Davis Project begins.