Wednesday, April 8

Harvard Book Store Presents (Past Events)Special Events Archive

Lydia Davis

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Lydia Davis reads from Can’t and Won’t: Stories

This event includes a book signing.

SOLD OUT – additional information available at Harvard.com. Unable to attend? Order the book(s) or pre-order a signed copy from Harvard Book Store. No Brattle Passes.

Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed author and translator LYDIA DAVIS for a reading from her latest collection of stories, Can’t and Won’t, newly released in paperback.

Her stories may be literal one-liners: the entirety of “Bloomington” reads, “Now that I have been here for a little while, I can say with confidence that I have never been here before.” Or they may be lengthier investigations of the havoc wreaked by the most mundane disruptions to routine: in “A Small Story About a Small Box of Chocolates,” a professor receives a gift of thirty-two small chocolates and is paralyzed by the multitude of options she imagines for their consumption. The stories may appear in the form of letters of complaint; they may be extractedfrom Flaubert’s correspondence; or they may be inspired by the author’s own dreams, or the dreams of friends.

What does not vary throughout Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis’s fifth collection of stories, is the power of her finely honed prose. Davis is sharply observant; she is wry or witty or poignant. Above all, she is refreshing. Davis writes with bracing candor and sly humor about the quotidian, revealing the mysterious, the foreign, the alienating, and the pleasurable within the predictable patterns of daily life.

“Drop everything and pick up Lydia Davis’s fifth collection of short stories . . . Observation, drama, and (yes) compression—it’s all there, giving the most minor moments a kind of epic weight.” —Los Angeles Times


Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and four previous story collections, including Varieties of Disturbance, a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is also the acclaimed translator of Swann’s Way (2003) and Madame Bovary (2010), both of which were awarded the French American Foundation Translation Prize. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, published in 2009, was described by James Wood in The New Yorker as a “grand cumulative achievement.” She is the winner of the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.