Read Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davis Online


Lydia Davis has been called "one of the quiet giants in the world of American fiction" (Los Angeles Times), "an American virtuoso of the short story form" (Salon), an innovator who attempts "to remake the model of the modern short story" (The New York Times Book Review). Her admirers include Grace Paley, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith; as Time magazine observed, her stoLydia Davis has been called "one of the quiet giants in the world of American fiction" (Los Angeles Times), "an American virtuoso of the short story form" (Salon), an innovator who attempts "to remake the model of the modern short story" (The New York Times Book Review). Her admirers include Grace Paley, Jonathan Franzen, and Zadie Smith; as Time magazine observed, her stories are "moving . . . and somehow inevitable, as if she has written what we were all on the verge of thinking."In Varieties of Disturbance, her fourth collection, Davis extends her reach as never before in stories that take every form from sociological studies to concise poems. Her subjects include the five senses, fourth-graders, good taste, and tropical storms. She offers a reinterpretation of insomnia and re-creates the ordeals of Kafka in the kitchen. She questions the lengths to which one should go to save the life of a caterpillar, proposes a clear account of the sexual act, rides the bus, probes the limits of marital fidelity, and unlocks the secret to a long and happy life.No two of these fictions are alike. And yet in each, Davis rearranges our view of the world by looking beyond our preconceptions to a bizarre truth, a source of delight and surprise.Varieties of Disturbance is a 2007 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction....

Title : Varieties of Disturbance
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780374281731
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 219 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Varieties of Disturbance Reviews

  • Megha
    2019-05-05 02:28

    Remember one of those moments when a friend utters a single word or phrase and it makes you both burst into side-splitting laughter, leaving others around you perplexed. That is kind of how some of Davis's very short stories work, except there is not so much laughter.Many of her stories are about quirks and absurdities of our daily lives, little moments, our common experiences and absent-minded musings. These may be some little experiences which we vaguely recognize, but can't quite put our finger on. Or those experiences which we consider too trivial to give a thought to. She does not need any words to describe the setting. She does not need any words to describe the characters. Her stories can be so relatable that we can often draw the setting from what is around us, and we can substitute ourselves as the characters. Using only a few words, Davis puts a mirror in front of us and brings out an "I know, right?" kind of response. “[her stories are] moving . . . and somehow inevitable, as if she has written what we were all on the verge of thinking.” - Time Magazine There is good deal of variety in the stories, both stylistically and content-wise. Some stories are written like academic reports, some play around with language, some deal with imperfect familial ties, some are absurd and funny. There is an undercurrent of loneliness in many of the stories, while some others speak of an unbearable sadness:"...Soon everything returned to normal: the incident had been no more than a moment of madness during which the people could not bear the frustration of their lives and had given way to a strange impulse.""I would like to disappear into the earth like that mole. I would like to stuff myself into the drawer of the laundry chest, and open the drawer from time to time to see if I have suffocated yet. It's so much more surprising that one gets up every morning at all."Despite, the range of emotions Davis's writing deals with, it is never overly-sentimental. She uses a calm, detached voice. She manages to condense the essence to a few innocuous sentences which hit you in just the right place._______The Good Times“What was happening to them was that every bad time produced a bad feeling that in turn produced several more bad times and several more bad feelings, so that their life together became crowded with bad times and bad feelings, so crowded that almost nothing else could grow in that dark field. But then she had a feeling of peace one morning that lingered from the evening before spent sewing while he sat reading in the next room. And a day or two later, she had a feeling of contentment that lingered in the morning from the evening before when he kept her company in the kitchen while she washed the dinner dishes. If the good times increased, she thought, each good time might produce a good feeling that would in turn produce several more good times that would produce several more good feelings. What she meant was that the good times might multiply perhaps as rapidly as the square of the square, or perhaps more rapidly, like mice, or like mushrooms springing up overnight from the scattered spore of a parent mushroom which in turn had sprung up overnight with a crowd of others from the scattered spore of a parent, until her life with him with be so crowded with good times that the good times might crowd out the bad as the bad times had by now almost crowded out the good.”

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-05-04 08:45

    When Davis isn’t off winning MacArthur fellowships and whipping up essential translations of Proust and Flaubert she also writes almost-award-winning story collections of pulsating sharpness. To spend time in Varieties of Disturbance is to nestle down inside a superhuman mind in a continual state of ecstatic whirr and recline divinely on dark and comforting truths about the human condition. Like Ali Smith (who is better at novels) Davis favours micro-portraits, throwaway whimsies, vacation snapshots in favour of the throbbing gristle of the long form. The longer stories in this beatific collection are superior to those in Almost No Memory, where space squeezed out substance (the exception here, perhaps, being the near tedious ‘Helen and Vi’), but the stars are the thumbnails. If anyone can compress epics into the space of two charming sentences, it is Davis, whose daringly antithetical translation of The Way by Swann’s illustrates the mangled contrarian logic at play in her literary project, and especially this sumptuous selection. Essential.

  • Jenn(ifer)
    2019-04-30 09:37

    Hm. Stars. I don't know what to do about those pesky little stars...I related to the stories on an intellectual level, that I can say for certain. They were well written and thoughtful. Problem is, I didn't relate to the stories emotionally at all. At all. And that, for me, is the most important part. I like stories that make me feel SOMETHING. Stories do not have to make me feel good, in fact, the best ones leave me feeling very unsettled. These stories, unfortunately, left me feeling... nothing. I walked away thinking "eh, well THAT happened. Moving on..." I don't mean to take anything away from Ms. Davis's writing. It's innovative and certainly unique and I'm sure there is an audience out there who will love her work. I wanted to love her work. But I didn't. I am a little bummed by that.

  • Christopher
    2019-04-26 08:45

    Subtle and remarkable. I understand the misgivings some have regarding "micro-fiction" in general, but I would offer this as an argument for the form. Will post a link to my extended review, when I write it.

  • بثينة الإبراهيم
    2019-05-24 09:28

    تقول ليديا ديفيس في أحد حواراتها إنها تميل إلى كتابك القصص القصيرة جدًا وبخاصة حين كانت تعمل على ترجمة عمل مارسيل بروست البحث عن الزمن المفقود، فقد كانت تترجم جمله الطويلة المعقدة وانتابتها رغبة في مقاومة بنية الجمل بقصص قصيرة جدًا جدًا تتألف من العنوان وسطرين أو ثلاثة. لم تكن القصص القصيرة جدًا جدًا كثيرة في هذه المجموعة، بل طغى عليها القصص الطويلة التي تتجازو بعضها الأربعين صفحة (هيلين وفاي: دراسة في الصحة والحيوية، يوميات كيب كود، مدام د. وخادماتها، دراسة على خطابات بتمني الشفاء العاجل ...) تكتب ديفيس عن التفاصيل الصغيرة جدًا التي تمنح للحياة نكهتها، إن كان ثمة واحدة! وتطعّمها بروح الدعابة (والسخرية المرة أحيانًا) كأنها علاج للخيبة المتربصة بنا ليكون الضحك آخر الليل هو الحل... أسلوب ليديا بسيط وسلس، يشبه حوار أي منا مع نفسه حين ينشغل ذهنه بأمر ما، ويحاول تعداد الخيارات، أو بالأحرى يلعب مع نفسه لعبة "ماذا لو" لعبة ستانديش (بطل قمر اليرقات) المفضلة. كثير من القصص كان مكتوبًا على نحو يشبه لغز catch-22 -وهو نوع من الألغاز المتناقضة التي لا حل لها-الذي يجعلك تنتهي للجواب نفسه في كل مرة ولا تصل إلى حل أبدًا.

  • Samantha
    2019-05-24 03:26

    I admit that when I received this book in the mail nearly a year ago, I read the shortest stories first and these two-line stories made me feel (with a trace of shame) like Lydia Davis was cheating. Afraid that she would not live up to all the Lydia Davis hype, I tucked the book away in my shelves.Last night, this book seemed to want attention so I said okay and started reading from the beginning. Few stories are more than a page. The three long-ish stories in the book are all set up like lab reports; all are studies: Of get-well letters to a sick child from a 4th grade class, of the maids of a particular family, of the health of two elderly women. And then the whole book started to feel like an obsessive data collection; an attempt at an objective record of minutiae, of dailiness, of all the stuff that on the surface doesn't seem worth writing about. Reading the book in order and having my head firmly in LydiaDavisWorld, the same two-line stories that had made me shrug earlier, made me imagine entire situations and characters surrounding them and made me feel all kinds of ways.After reading the first 60 pages or so, I fell asleep. I had the kind of nightmares where you know they're nightmares but you don't want to wake up because you're afraid of discovering they're still true in your waking life. Eventually I woke up, finished Varieties of Disturbance, and decided that reading this book in bed was probably the nightmare-inducing thing.Final verdict: Lydia Davis - Not overrated.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-05-07 03:24

    When I first heard about Lydia Davis, I felt like I should have already known of her. This is my first attempt to remedy that absence. I'm not surprised that the friend who recommended her comes from my book club that read Infinite Jest, as there is one story in this set that makes me think of David Foster Wallace (where the footnote is longer than the story.)And most stories in here are short. Short is an understatement. Tiny. I believe the word is micro fiction. Many are more like poetry. And actually I preferred the shorties over the longer stories. The longer stories tended to take on faux sociological studies like "We Miss You: A Study of Get-Well Letters from a Class of Fourth-Graders" and "Helen and Vi: A Study in Health and Vitality." Not my favorite, but clever.I preferred stories that managed to make a thoughtful observation or statement, or made me laugh. Favorites included "Kafka Cooks Dinner" (you can read it online on Fence) and "Head, Heart" (which is available online as well, so go read it, it's quick.)This was also discussed on Episode 009 of the Reading Envy Podcast.

  • Hamees Elbalshy
    2019-05-18 03:44

    قصص جميلة، بعضها شديدة التكثيف بشكل رائع، الآخر اعتمد على تحليل دقيق لما وراء الكلمات، هنا أيضًا قصص وظفت فيها الكاتبة قلقها وانزعاجها وسخريتها من الروتين بطريقة ملفتة. كتابة مميزة، مختلفة بالمعنى الحرفي، ما إن تقرأ حتى تلمس ذلك بوضوح شديد جدًا.

  • Matthew
    2019-04-26 10:26

    I put that word on the page,but he added the apostrophe.- Collaboration with Fly, pg. 8* * *Like a tropical storm,I, too, may one day become "better organized."- Tropical Storm, pg. 19* * *Representatives of different food products manufacturerstry to open their own packaging.- Idea for a Short Documentary Film, pg. 22* * *Beyond the hand holding this book that I'm reading, I see another hand lying idle and slightly out of focus - my extra hand.- Hand, pg. 30* * *If your eyeballs move, this means that you're thinking, or about to start thinking.If you don't want to be thinking at this particular moment, try to keep your eyeball still.- Getting to Know Your Body, pg. 66* * *I have been hearing what my mother says for over forty years and I have been hearing what my husband says for only about five years, and I have often thought she was right and he was not right, but now more often I think he i right, especially on a day like today when I have just had a long conversation on the phone with my mother about my brother and my father and then a shorter conversation on the phone with my husband about the conversation I had with my mother.My mother was worried because she hurt my brother's feelings when he told her over the phone that he wanted to take some of his vacation time to come help them since my mother had just gotten out of the hospital. She said, though she was not telling the truth, that he shouldn't come because she couldn't really have anyone in the house since she would feel she had to prepare meals, for instance, though having difficulty enough with her crutches. He argued against that, saying "That wouldn't be the point!" and now he doesn't answer his phone. She's afraid something has happened to him and I tell her I don't believe that. He had probably taken the vacation time he had set aside for them and gone away for a few days by himself. She forgets he is a man of nearly fifty, though I'm sorry they had to hurt his feelings like that. A short time after she hangs up I call my husband and repeat all this to him.My mother hurt my brother's feelings while protecting certain particular feelings of my father's by claiming certain other feelings of her own, and while it was hard for me to deny my father's particular feelings, which are well-known to me, it was also hard for me not to think there was not a way to do things differently so that my brother's offer of help would not be declined and he would not be hurt.She hurt my brother's feelings as she was protecting my father from certain feelings of disturbance anticipated by him if my brother were to come, by claiming to my brother certain feelings of disturbance in my mother and father both, feelings that are the same or close to the same in them but different from the feelings of disturbance anticipated by my father an those falsely claimed by my mother to my brother. Now in her disturbance my mother has called to tell me of her and my father's feelings of disturbance over my brother, and in doing this she has caused in me feelings of disturbance also, though fainter and different from the feelings experienced now by her and my father and those anticipated by my father and falsely claimed by my mother.When I describe this conversation to my husband, I cause in him feelings of disturbance also, stronger than mine and different in kind from those in my mother, in my father, and respectively claimed and anticipated by them. My husband is disturbed by my mother's refusing my brother's help and thus causing disturbance in me greater, he says, than I realize, bu also more generally by the disturbance caused more generally not only in my brother by her but also in me by her greater than I realize, and more often than I realize, and when he points this out, it causes in me yet another disturbance different in kind and in degree from that caused in me by what my mother has told me, for this disturbance is not only for myself and my brother, and not only for my father in his anticipated and his present disturbance, but also and most of all for my mother herself, who has now, and has generally, caused so much disturbance, as my husband rightly says, but is herself disturbed by only a small part of it.- Varieties of Disturbance, pg. 83-85* * *Oh, poor Dad. I'm sorry I made fun of you.Now I'm spelling Nietszche wrong, too.- Nietszche, pg. 114* * *My body aches so -It must be this heavy bed pressing up against me.- Insomnia, pg. 128* * *1.It is not that you are not qualified to receive the fellowship, it is that each year your application is not good enough. When at last your application is perfect, then you will receive the fellowship.2.It is not that you are not qualified to receive the fellowship, it is that your patience must be tested first. Each year, you are patient, but not patient enough. When you have truly learned what it is to be patient, so much so that you forget all about the fellowship, then you will receive the fellowship.- The Fellowship, pg. 136* * *I looked down on the street from my window. The sun shone and the shopkeepers had come out to stand in the warmth and watch the people go by. But why were the shopkeepers covering their ears? And why were the peoople in the street running as if pursued by a terrible spectre? Soon everything returned to normal: the incident had been no more than a moment of madness during which the people could not bear the frustration of their lives and had given way to a strange impulse. - A Strange Impulse, pg. 186* * *At the back of the bus,inside the bathroom,this very small illegal passenger,on its way to Boston.- The Fly, pg. 196

  • Hanne
    2019-04-30 05:50

    There are different kinds of ‘special’ in this world:1. There is the ‘oh, that’s special’ from a mother or a colleague perhaps, when commenting on a new dress or a new coat of paint in your living room. Make no mistake, it’s not really compliment, it means that they just don’t know what else to say.2. There is the type of ‘special’ invented by marketeers: a now-or-never advertisement trick that always sounds like a good idea at the time, but rarely is.3. And, then there is the real special: like Lydia Davis special. Unique. One of a kind. Original. It just stands out.The first thing that stands out is that she makes her stories about the most everyday things: how many different maids a woman had in her lifetime for instance, or her inability to open packaging:This collection is a combination of flash fiction with short fiction, sometimes with the feel of poetry, at other times it feels like sociological research. Her stories are regularly made with a linguistic logic that makes your head spin, but is very often just really funny.One of the stories I liked best was a study of letters a class of fourth-graders wrote to their sick classmate Stephen who spent some time in the hospital recovering. The letters are 5 to 8 sentences long, and what Lydia Davis gives us is a hilarious over-analysis of these letters, culminating in a study of ‘the Daily Lives of Children, their Awareness of Space and Time, and their Characters and States of Mind’.“Two of the children achieve moments of stylistic eloquence. One, Susan A., creates a vivid concrete image that is enhanced by her use of alliteration and forceful rhythm: ‘some trees were bent and broken’. (…)“It could be argued that Scott too, achieves a certain pleasing balance with his alternation, in the four sentences of his cogent letter, between ‘over there’ and ‘here where we are’, ‘up there’ and ‘back here again,’ in fact creating a seesaw motion and thereby tying Stephen more closely to the class than any of the other children.”Brilliant as this story is, I do have to add that a lot of the stories in the collection wouldn’t work for me on their own, but combined together is when they get to shine. What she does feels highly experimental, and one of the consequences of experimental is that not everything will be liked. There are stories I thought were highly original, and great from a structural point of view, but didn’t necessarily work for me as a story. It’s no surprise then that sometimes Lydia Davis might float in between to categories of special. The one you don’t really like, even if you can appreciate the originality.

  • Eugene
    2019-05-21 09:34

    'varieties' is accurate in that she has several techniques, vaguely constellated around her interests (of translation and epistemology, of 'deep ideas' of self).she's a great bridge to the Modernists... she's thinking about them--Kafka, Proust, Beckett, Woolf--throughout, but we hear her thinking in a very contemporary language, one that is constructed and fragmented *from* modernism, a cento of modernism. relatedly: she's a good mimic. beyond this also, she's several of her own styles. the short shorts that worked best for me were those that point to that one vaguely has experienced but has never been able to articulate--and so come with an a-ha! ...some however were confounding and i wonder that in these absolutely crucibled forms (the FF) if authors are forced to use personal or limited connotations of language that simply don't 'mean' for everyone, and thereby necessarily create (unintentionally?) obtuse texts... "The walk" is so far my favorite. at first glance seems a very traditional story--about two people, a proust translator and a proust critic, taking a proustian walk--but reveals itself to be self-commenting, creating a neat and mirrored world (which in itself is an act which comments on proust's architecture of the two ways). also a beautiful style, wistful. other longer ones are exhausting and exhaustive thought experiments, some by their exhausting function are similar in their ambitions to sorrentino's use of the exhaustive list... by her carefully chosen and paced varieties, she satisfyingly obliterates the dichotomy of show and tell."Enlightened," in entirety:I don’t know if I can remain friends with her. I’ve thought and thought about it - she’ll never know how much. I gave it one last try: I called her, after a year. But I didn’t like the way the conversation went. The problem is that she is not very enlightened. Or I should say, she is not enlightened enough for me. She is nearly fifty years old and no more enlightened, as far as I can see, than when I knew her twenty years ago, when we talked mainly about men. I did not mind how unenlightened she was then, maybe because I was not so enlightened myself. I believe I am more enlightened now, and certainly more enlightened than she is, although I know it’s not very enlightened to say that. But I want to say it, so I am willing to postpone being more enlightened myself so that I can still say a thing like that about a friend.

  • نور الدين محمد
    2019-04-28 09:25

    ماذا فعلت ليديا ديفيس؟ لأنها أولاً مدام، شؤون المنزل، الاهتمام بالطفل الكبير "الزوج" والطفل الصغير "ابنها"، ولأنها مترجمة (المعذبون في هذه الأرض الذي ضاع بصرهم في القواميس والتنقيب عن المفردات والأضداد!) ولأنها تعمل أستاذة بالجامعة، لجأت مضطرة لأسلوب كتابة يتميز بالقصر والاختزال والكثافة. ليديا لا تكتب القصص القصيرة جدًا ولا القصص القصيرة فقط، لا الشذرات. أقول ربما تكتب ليديا القصاصات المقتطفة من الحياة دون تزويق كبير مع الحفاظ على صلابة اللغة وصحتها وقدرتها على التعبير.•••تتجه ليديا لملاحظة تفاصيل غريبة، مثلاً هي تحكي عن ذبابة في قصاصة لها:"في مؤخرة الحافلة، داخل الحمام،هذه المسافرة الضئيلة المخالفة للقانون،في طريقها إلى بوسطن."•••نشأت ليديا في عائلة لغوية، كانت من الممكن أن تقضي ساعات في البحث عن أصل كلمة ما وتاريخها في علم الأصول، ولا تجد تضييعا للوقت في ذلك.ببساطة، ليديا تعيش داخل اللغة، وعندما تكتب، فإنها تتفذلك، على نحو صحيح تمامًا وغر مخالف للقواعد اللغوية، باللغة في قصصها التي تكتبها في النهار بعد عناء. أجل؟ عناء، إنها تحكي في قصة بعنوان: "مدام د وخادماتها" في حوالي أكثر من عشرين صفحة فقط عن تاريخ الخادمات اللاتي مررن على بيتها. كل ما كانت تريده بعضًا من الوقت بالنهار للكتابة والقراءة، ولقد عانت للحصول على ذلك.•••ليديا ترجمت رواية بروست: "البحث عن الزمن المفقود" ، وأعتقد أنها لو لم تفعل غير ذلك في حياتها، فإنها سترقد في سلام. وحدهم من يعرفون الرواية، يفهمون معنى ترجمة رواية بروست هذه!•••اقتباس:"أرقجسمي يوجعني كثيرًا —لابد أن هذا السرير الثقيل ضاغطًا إلى الأعلى نحوي."•••خريف ٢٠١٦

  • Booklover Butterfly
    2019-04-28 06:34

    Lydia Davis’ Varieties of Disturbance is a unique short story collection with stories ranging in length from multiple pages to a single sentence. The stories are often clever with an underlying humor, but some I just fond plain odd. Perhaps I missed the point in a few of them. Quite a few of the shortest stories were more like humorous observations of life rather than stories. This collection of short stories is very character-driven. With a few of the stories, you aren’t introduced to the characters at all, but rather you see things through their perspective. As a result, I felt detached and unsympathetic toward the characters and the situations they faced which led to me to be a bit bored with a few of the stories. I suppose I found it hard to relate to a character that I knew nothing about outside of how they reacted in one situation. After the first couple stories I read that left me feeling this way, I started skimming through the book looking for a situation or character that I could relate to. Overall, the book just couldn’t hold my attention.I liked the shorter, one sentence type stories the best. The longer stories seemed to drag on for me. I can, however, appreciate the author’s descriptive ability. She is clearly an intelligent, talented writer. She just doesn’t appeal to me as much as certain other writers. I wouldn't recommend this collection to others unless they were already fans of this author's writing style.

  • Josie
    2019-05-23 10:25

    Well basically my favorite book. Sean calls it "Proust tweets for Baller," Baller being me. I guess that is accurate. My favorite was the one in which she reads and doesn't read Worstward Ho on the bus.

  • Erik F.
    2019-05-18 10:26

    Ones I liked: "Grammar Questions," "What You Learn About The Baby," "Passing Wind," "For Sixty Cents," "Order," "The Strangers," "The Caterpillar," "The Fellowship"

  • Dr. House
    2019-05-26 06:24

    بعضها ممتاز ، بعضها جيد و الباقي ....

  • Jenny Shank
    2019-05-14 05:25 Davis' 'Varieties of Disturbance'By Jenny Shank For the CameraFriday, September 14, 2007Lydia Davis writes experimental short fiction, a practice that would seem to confine her work to the audience that reads obscure literary magazines. But Davis' stories are so skillful, incisive, and funny that she enjoys a much broader reach, publishing widely and earning many accolades and awards for her fiction, including a 2003 MacArthur Fellowship.How does Davis cast such a spell when her stories are sometimes only a sentence or two long? (Such as "Idea for a Short Documentary Film," which reads, in its entirety, "Representatives of different food products manufacturers try to open their own packaging.")Davis' art is that rare thing: experimental and accessible at the same time. Her fourth short story collection, "Varieties of Disturbance," features the precise language, fresh subject matter, and sharp humor that have become her hallmarks. Davis embraces the high and the low, including one story featuring tension among Proust scholars ("The Walk"), and another ("Passing Wind") in which the narrator wonders whether her guest or her dog is responsible for an odor she has detected.Davis' subject is often language itself, and in her capable hands this topic never bores. Indeed, some of the stories that are most obsessed with syntax are the most fascinating, such as "Grammar Questions," in which the unnamed narrator asks about his or her father, "Now, during the time he is dying, can I say, 'This is where he lives'?" The narrator puzzles through the grammar of the entire death and funeral process. Although the characters are never introduced in the traditional fashion, the narrator's grief is movingly rendered through the effort of trying to find the language with which to speak of a father's death.In addition to grammar, Davis is also interested in the difference between the language that people use to represent themselves and the people they actually are. In "Mrs. D and Her Maids," an analysis of the many maids employed serially by a married mother and writer named Mrs. D. Davis writes, "Mrs. D gives the impression, in her letter, that she is sensible, efficient, and well organized, and that her family life is orderly."But, the narrator informs the reader, "She likes a clean house, but she herself is casual in caring for her things — after removing a sweater, she will drop it in a heap." In this story and others that Davis wrote in the form of case studies, the narrator states facts about the subjects simply, but reveals far more about the subjects' psychology than most observers could glean."We Miss You: A Study of Get-Well Letters from a Class of Fourth-Graders" is the best of her case study stories. Davis dissects the letters a teacher compelled her class to write to a classmate in the hospital, analyzing their grammar, content, and style. "Janet adds an unexpected element: 'I have been sledding and skiing and the cats go with me.' This may be one of the few instances, among the letters, of objectively interesting information."In some stories Davis' language takes on a tone of almost clinical remove, but this is often their strength, particularly in "What You Learn About the Baby," in which a mother observes her child and what her life has become with a newborn in it. Under the subject "Renunciation," Davis writes, "You give up, or postpone for his sake, many of the pleasures you once enjoyed, such as eating meals when you are hungry, eating as much as you want ... going to sleep when you are tired, sleeping until you have had enough sleep." Davis perfectly captures the tenderness and disorientation of the early days of motherhood, and because of that clinical remove, she does it without a hint of maudlin sentiment.Some of Davis' longer stories don't have the snap of her shorter pieces. For example, "Cape Cod Diary," disjointed notes on a vacation, doesn't have a plot in the traditional sense, and so lacks forward momentum. But the few misses in "Varieties of Disturbance" are far outweighed by the many hits, and with this collection Davis continues to hone her gift for engaging experimentation.Jenny Shank lives in Boulder and writes about books for

  • Carly
    2019-05-23 08:43

    Do you remember when you were a teenager, and your friends all really liked this one band, but you just didn't understand the appeal of their music? And you had a sneaking suspicion that at least a few of your friends were pretending to like it to seem cool? And maybe even you pretended to like it to seem cool, too?That is how I feel about this collection, though I'm old enough now to not bother wasting time pretending to be cool. I just straight up don't get it. Another review I read said although it was very intellectual, the collection had zero emotional resonance for them. I wholeheartedly agree. I can say that a few of the essays appealed to me ("Enlightened"; "Good Times"; "The Fellowship"), but overall I couldn't shake the feeling that I was reading a dull, highly repetitive, scientific textbook. I really struggled to get through this text, and felt no connection to it, whatsoever. Cruelest thoughts about this: pretentious drivel, mind-numbingly boring. Nicer thoughts: acerbic and dry, bare-bones, unique, just not my taste.

  • Elina
    2019-05-13 10:28

    I love the short story form and Varieties of disturbance is one of the most innovative short story collections I've come across. I appreciated the stories with a very dead-pan reportlike feel and the use of repetition. My favorite story was We Miss You: A Study of Get-well letters From a Class of Fourth-Graders. There were so many that just left me exhilarated. I loved being surprised by all the different angles and techniques. I think the book really suits my way of thinking, this kind of going all over the place randomness carried out in a very thoughtful manner. Sure not every story hits it target but I just enjoyed the process of her trying to get somewhere new. I've never read anything like it. Read this if you like intellectual giggles, randomness, lists, experimental fiction.

  • Anna
    2019-05-21 03:44

    Lydia Davis' Varieties of Disturbance is crazy good.In my copy (and by "mine," I mean the Detroit Public Library's), there's a blurb by the late Grace Paley that goes: "Davis is the kind of writer about whom you say: 'Oh, at last!'"And that's it: it's all exhales and inhales. It's juxtapositions and rhythms. White space and absences. Sentences might turn tense and strange, only to unravel relaxedly in a single clause. Extraordinarily short stories that smack like snickering punchlines, paired next a longer story that takes a curious vantage on, say, a fourth grade class from decades ago, or older women whose pasts seem simultaneous with their present.This book is designed as a collection of stories, and its strange beauty and wit leaves a gal breathless. At last.

  • Vicki
    2019-05-07 10:22

    I really liked this book, and took my time reading it. Some of the stories are very, very short. Some of them are a little long. All of them are interesting with a unique perspective. One of my favorites was "Tropical Storm," which I can quote in its entirety: "Like a tropical storm, I, too, may one day become 'better organized.'"There's another story that analyzes the get well letters sent to a 2nd grader by his classmates. Not the typical short story topic, but seems to fit right in. Another analysis is on two elderly woman, comparing and contrasting their lives. I didn't find that one as interesting, possibly because I generally have more interest in children and how they express themselves. Anyways, they're both more sociology than short story, but entertaining.

  • Brian
    2019-04-27 09:26

    I never write in books, never did in college, but I wrote in this one. I annotated the table of contents. Some of the stories in the collection were excellent, and halfway through the book I was ready to tear through the rest. But my attention flagged when the second half of the work didn't contain anything different from the first, anything improving upon the first portion. I will definitely come back to the half dozen I check-marked, but I'm not rushing out to buy the rest of the Lydia Davis catalog.

  • ülgen Ayrancı
    2019-05-26 05:35

    writer has a unique style. every single story makes you think about smth after reading it. I apretiate this being different and innovative, but this is not a book that you keep reading and reading.. altough I like the idea behind a story, I confess that I couldn't finish some of them :)

  • Jessica
    2019-05-03 08:31

    Not all of it landed with me, but when it did it was like an electrical current. Favorite stories:Kafka Cooks DinnerGrammar QuestionsWe Miss You: A Study of Get-Well Letters from a Class of Fourth-Graders

  • Cynthia Romanowski
    2019-05-24 04:43

    I feel like I missed the boat on this one friends. Inventive, smart, unique, I agree but I felt cold most of the time. The short shorts were exceptionally well done, however, I think I need to read another one of hers just in case.

  • Teresa
    2019-05-01 06:27

    Didn't finish, but read enough to know these stories are not for me. Though the stories are (too?) clever, and though I did chuckle in a couple of places, I found them boring for the most part.

  • Amber
    2019-05-06 10:44

    Worth re-reading, which I just inadvertently did, having checked it out from the library without recognizing it.

  • Konstantin
    2019-05-07 10:46

    [rating = B-]I love when Ms. Davis writes short, sweet, and to the point. Unfortunately, this collection has several long, too drawn out pieces that made reading tiresome and even a bit boring. What the author does best is show the female attitude and opinion when faced with "man". She has several, almost identical, portrayals where a woman complains about the two-sidedness of man, the sweet and the angry (and all the various variations in between); these are interesting, but after two or so they begin to seem lose their creative sheen. Like David Sedaris, Ms. Davis is very funny, but she can easily get dragged away into "preaching to the choir"; she continues to treat issues too seriously, as if she thinks that this is life or death. Yes, the issues are serious, but by turning the tone away for humor, she is exposing her own inability or her own vulnerability at trying to portray the subject efficaciously. Many of these stories are very inventive, stylistically. I applaud her for using new stratagems for uncovering the secrets of relationships and society. Yet again, these experiments in style do not make up for the prosaic and rather pithy plots and situations she expatiates. I much prefer her short snippets that rely on humor and wit in conventional circumstances, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.

  • Chris Miller
    2019-04-27 03:44

    57 short stories ranging in length from a couple of words to 41 pages. 219 pages total. This is the breakdown:Loved"Kafka Cooks Dinner""The Caterpillar""We Miss You: A Study of Get-Well Letters from a Class of Fourth-Graders""Helen and Vi: A Study in Health and Vitality"Stories: 4/57 (~7%)Pages: 77/ 219 (~35%)Unreadable*"Southward Bound, Reads Westward Ho"Stories: 1/57 (~2%)Pages: 4/219 (~2%)Meh, or eye roll*The rest of the stories not specifically mentioned.Stories: 52/57 (~91%)Pages: 138/219 (~63%)And somehow this all feels like 4 stars in the irrational blender of my heart.*Unreadable/eye roll explanation: When artists of any kind employ experimental style without also delivering on content it annoys me. Different + good = culturally enriching; different - good = pretentious hot air.

  • Tracy segal
    2019-05-20 07:31

    Suas histórias, contadas em voz testemunhal ou numa fria descrição de vidas alheias, deixam à vista o absurdo das vidas medíocres, o espanto diante do que seria banal. A secura de sua escrita explode os significados, uma crueza quase cirúrgica, que espalha as vísceras. Ela quase nunca, arriscaria até a dizer nunca, usufrui de imagens em analogia para explicitar uma cena. Sua escrita emula essa frieza científica, num híbrido de ensaio, ficção e auto ficção. Pedaços soltos da sociedade são descritos aparentando uma objetividade, mas deixando a mostra, como que por "descuido", o absurdo da condição humana, de onde também pulam displicentemente o humor e a poesia. A vida como uma paródia de si mesma.