Lydia Davis: What Appears The Most Simple Is The Most Profound

Erica Wagner at The New Statesman:

Revising One Sentence” is the title of one of the essays in Lydia Davis’s masterful, lucid collection. No single piece could capture the essence of this extraordinary writer, but a new reader might wish to start here. This is the sentence in question, in its final version: “She walks around the house balancing on the balls of her feet, sometimes whistling and singing, sometimes talking to herself, sometimes stopping dead in a fencing position.” Nothing to see here, you might think. But think again.

The essay, a compact eight pages, distils Davis’s practice as she considers the choices she makes. We learn of the notebook she keeps beside her “official” work, a place for her thoughts about herself and the world to be set down freely. Everything she writes begins in this notebook, a habit that makes her “not afraid”, because there is no pressure, at the outset, to turn her work into a story. (How honest is that “not afraid”! So much truer than “bold” or “brave”.)

more here.