Essays One

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Fans of Lydia Davis’s brief and masterful fiction will be surprised and enthralled by her recent release, a five hundred plus page collection titled Essays One.

Broken into multiple sections, Davis looks to The Practice of Writing, Visual Artists, and Writers on several occasions. The opening essay, “A Beloved Duck Gets Cooked: Forms and Influences” establishes the tone and tenor of the book. Wry, insightful, and rife with references, it is as much a primer on the literary tradition as it is a glimpse into Davis’s own preferences. Later, in several essays, Davis parses through specific works by artists Joseph Cornell, Alan Cotes, and writers John Ashbery, Thomas Pynchon, and Gustave Flaubert to name a few. But it is the final section of the book, “The Bible, Memory, and the Passage of Time,” that is most exceptional in its breadth. An imagining of meeting Abraham Lincoln appears in close proximity to the writer’s own interpretive reading of Psalm 23. It is hard to imagine any other writer working today with the same detail, depth, and drive as Lydia Davis displays in this extraordinary book.

Essays One is a must-read and the kind of book that will be returned to again and again for inspiration and enjoyment.

Reviewed By:

Author Lydia Davis
Star Count /5
Format Trade
Page Count 528 pages
Publisher Picador 
Publish Date 2020-Nov-10
ISBN 9781250758156 Buy this Book
Issue March 2021
Category Poetry & Short Stories


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