Saturday, 8 January 2011

Happiest Moment: Lydia Davis

Yesterday I was reading the The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Picador 2010). She has some exquisite stories, including some that are no more than a single paragraph. Here's one of my favourites – a tiny, perfect, intricate little story titled "Happiest Moment":

If you ask her what is a favorite story she has written, she will hesitate for a long time and then say it may be this story that she read in a book once: an English-language teacher in China asked his Chinese student to say what was the happiest moment in his life. The student hesitated for a long time. At last he smiled with embarrassment and said that his wife had once gone to Beijing and eaten duck there, and she often told him about it, and he would have to say the happiest moment of his life was her trip, and the eating of the duck.

7 Comments:

arthurandtamie said...

Wonderful!

A.

KJ said...

Lovely!

Anonymous said...

So much said in so few words!

Claire Fayers said...

Everyone who likes this story should read the book it came from - Mark Salzman's Iron and Silk - a beautiful collection of vignettes of his time as a teacher in China in the '80s. I thoroughly recommend it.

roger flyer said...

Roger, hesitating for a long time, said: Mmmm, huh?

Daniel said...

Sublime, and your no slouch yourself. Nice break from 'dogmatics' too. If you had to, could you get your previous story down to one paragraph?

Karl Hand said...

I bet the duck has a different view on the matter...

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