The thirty-four stories in this seminal collection powerfully display what have become Lydia Davis's trademarks—dexterity, brevity, understatement, and surprise.
Although the certainty of her prose suggests a world of almost clinical reason and clarity, her characters show us that life, thought, and language are full of disorder. Break It Down is Davis at her best. In the words of Jonathan Franzen, she is "a magician of self-consciousness."
About the Author
Lydia Davis is the author of Essays One, a collection of essays on writing, reading, art, memory, and the Bible. She is also the author of The End of the Story: A Novel and many story collections, including Varieties of Disturbance, a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award for Fiction; Can’t and Won’t (2014); and The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, described by James Wood in The New Yorker as “a grand cumulative achievement.” Davis is also the acclaimed translator of Swann’s Way and Madame Bovary, both awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prize, and of many other works of literature. She has been named both a Chevalier and an Officier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government, and in 2020 she received the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story.
"Autobiographical in texture, introspective in tone, these stories are grounded in sufficient detail to offer a peephole into a distinct fictional world; and in doing so, they attest to the author's gift as an observer and archivist of emotion."—The New York Times
"An American virtuoso of the short story form."—Salon
"Davis is one of the most precise and economical writers we have."—Dave Eggers, McSweeney's
"The best prose stylist in America."—Rick Moody
"[Davis has] a capacity to make language unleash entire states of existence."—Siddhartha Deb, The New York Times