Lydia Davis, Rock Star of the Short Short

Last night was the Lydia Davis reading at Stanford.  It was great.  Davis is hilarious, in a wonderfully deadpan way.  Niece particularly liked a piece about cows.  Self found a piece about the dying of a mother (Not her own, Ms. Davis was careful to emphasize.  A friend’s.  And she asked permission of her friend to use the subject) simply stunning.

This morning, self attended the Lydia Davis colloquium in the Terrace Room of Building 460.  It was packed, but not to the degree that Davis’ reading, last night, had been.  Self recognized Tobias Wolff (Another Rock Star of the Fiction Set) and Eavann Boland (Irish poet, Director of the Stanford Creative Writing Program).  There was poetry professor Ken Fields, who amazingly didn’t look much different from when self was in the Creative Writing Program, and fiction writer Kathryn Ma, who had driven all the way up from the city.  Kathryn had paired buttery yellow jeans with a blue denim jacket —  proof positive (as if any were needed) that not only is this writer endowed with great talent, she is also possessed of great fashion sense.

Davis was wearing black trousers and a simple black cardigan and a grey tailored blouse —  very minimalist, just like her prose!  She wore fab librarian glasses that had a slightly brownish tint.  Her face had great bones:  self saw her as an older version of Bridget Fonda.  Seriously!

Afterwards, self lined up to get her as well as niece’s copy of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis.  When it was self’s turn to have The Great One sign, self found herself stammering:  “I told my niece you were the rock star of the short short!  I have admired your writing for so long!”  In response to which Ms. Davis gave a genuine smile, and said —  nothing.  As was only right.  For what if self turned out to be one of those demented fans . . .

Then self scurried off with her precious signed copies, and saw a long long line (probably triple the line for copies of Davis’ book) forming up for the free lunch.  This lunch was absolutely first-rate.  But self was too embarrassed to position herself at the end of it:  she estimated it would probably take her at least a half hour to reach the food, by the end of which period everyone else would have scarfed down the victuals and left, leaving self to munch her lonely way through a panini sandwich in a corner of the roof terrace, trying not to look too self-conscious and failing miserably.

Self felt completely vindicated about her choice of bright blue nail polish:  throughout Ms. Davis’ colloquium, self had ample occasion to flash her blue nails because she was scribbling very ostentatiously into a red leather notebook.

Not only was self feeling completely content about her choice of the color blue for her nails, she heard Ms. Davis mention that she had written a story about a man who comes across on old house in the country and decides to restore it.  In the Davis story, nothing happens:  the man keeps intending to restore the house, but he never gets further than fiddling with the blueprint.  Which is not to say this is not great material for a story!  Self now knows why she was meant to hear Lydia Davis today.  For she, too, is attempting to construct a home in a far-off place.  She, too, is planning to build a house, on the outskirts of Bacolod!  She, too, has been endlessly fiddling with the survey of the lot dimensions!  So, even if self ends up doing nothing at all about this dream house in Bacolod, she can at least write her very own version of the Lydia Davis story!  She will call it:  “The House Plans:  After Lydia Davis.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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