One thing Lydia Davis does in her very short stories is to append, after some stories, in lower case italics, the word ‘dream’. This instantly dilutes the preceding text insofar as it suggests that whatever happened in that text wouldn’t happen. Very few things in texts would happen. On the other hand many things that probably wouldn’t happen do happen or, at the very least, have some of the qualities of things that might happen, or occur, or simply appear in the mind. ‘Things that seem to happen’ is a useful category (not that it should be appended to anything) because it leaves certain valuable tensions intact.

Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis (Penguin, 2014)

I like this story. It’s pretty clear that it’s a dream but nothing is gained by telling us this.


Inner Life Option
Shorts in June