Been up in the hills for long enough, time to escape to the warm flat in the middle of town for the winter. Spent most of the summer reading: two Junot Diaz collections, Drown and This Is How You Lose Her, both of which I loved; Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned (ditto), dipped into Edna O’Brien’s The Love Object and Flannery O’Connor’s Complete Stories (part of a recent prize from Faber that included the Diaz); did some vicarious travelling 70s style with Paul Theroux in The Great Railway Bazaar; worshipped the work of George Saunders (though having read most of his work, I do prefer his latest collection, Tenth of December. I also started the first Donna Tartt (The Secret History) and hope to finish her second, The Little Friend before Christmas as santa has promised me The Goldfinch.
I’ve not written as much over the summer, or rather I have written but haven’t finished anything to a point where I’m happy with it. Part of this is to do with all the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve been taking notes, and after (also) reading two volumes of The Paris Review Interviews (vols 2 &3), I can see a way of working with the writing I’ve done to make some sense of it!
I started yesterday. Dragged out my files, folders and notebooks and started reading through in a dispassionate way, wrote my way around one story that’s been occupying part of my head for a couple of years. This morning I still haven’t got a handle on what the story’s about but have identified some old drafts that should go IN THE BIN. So, making progress.
Took this on way home from Llangeinor. Drove up through Rhondda valley and stopped for a break at Craig-y-Llyn before heading over to the Brecon Beacons. Dramatic sky and post-industrial landscape reminded me of the Pennines.
“As soon as she’s organised, she walks onto the glass bridge and through the warm blue sky, her arms stretched out from her sides. People stare, and some throw her cranky looks because of all the space she’s taking up, but she doesn’t care. She twirls above the rush of water and inside the cool of clouds, gravity as good as gone.”
Extract from Ethel Rohan‘s second collection, Goodnight Nobody. Reviewed here (by me) for The Short Review.
What was hot? Hay Festival. George Saunders. My inner fan girl. James Salter. Robert
MacFarlane. A walk in Mousecastle Wood. A visit to Hergest Croft Gardens. An RHS cream tea. A walk on the Begwns. Coconut ice cream. Not necessarily in that order.
So, Lydia Davis has won the 2013 International Man Booker Prize, fuck fuck fuckity fuck – now everyone will be reading her, and talking about her, and she won’t be my secret favourite short story author EVER anymore.
I ordered The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Abe Books) after reading this review by Tania Hershman in The Short Review (originally posted in 2010), and this (beautiful hardback) collection is now a permanent fixture in the stack of books I keep by my bed.
I love Davis’s writing for its precision, its economy and because it defies categorisation. I love reading her because – among other delights – doing so has given me the freedom to experiment as a writer, to be myself and to define for myself what short fiction can be.
Congratulations to Lydia Davis, this is fantastic news for all readers and writers of short fiction, I will just have to learn to share you. [And I wish I was able to hear you read down the road at Hay Festival tomorrow but I have to take care of a very poorly elderly person instead.]
Other good news, my own this time, this week I have a very short story – Blind Spot – up at The View From Here. A small win for me!
Image: Land of the Unwell © Diane Becker 2013