First edition, signed on title-page. In keeping with the minimalist style of many of the stories in this collection, Davis provides deft, compact insights into her work. “I never realized until the latest collection of stories (Can’t and Won’t) how often fish reappeared in my stories.” Her story “The Mouse” was inspired by Robert Creeley. “He, like W. C. [William Carlos] Williams, was a skilled story-teller as well as poet.” “Extracts from a Life” is “the first in which I plundered, or re-fashioned, another text. Another favorite, because of the lovely language, which is mostly Suzuki’s.” The extremely short and powerful “In a House Besieged” conveys in just 65 words a deep and wide range of human emotions and terrors, was “a very early story – 1973” set “in the countryside of the Ver” region of France, where Davis lived for a time. In “A Few Things Wrong with Me,” she explains that “I have never felt I had to give a character a proper name – or at least it has been a long time since I felt I had to.” Her story about the poor and homeless in New York City, “City Employment,” prompts the observation that “NYC still does not take proper care of its homeless and mentally ill.” The short, caustic ‘The Mother,” about an unpleaseable parent was, not surprisingly, “not one of my Mother’s favorites.”
DAVIS, Lydia (b. 1947). Break It Down. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986. 8°. Original cloth-backed boards; dust jacket.