While Lydia Davis's fiction in many ways resists categorization, her frequent use of allusion, terseness, and tendency to omit important details as a means to generate implication place her firmly within the American literary Minimalist tradition. Within this mode, however, she is both an innovator and outlier. Though Davis's narrators often communicate through direct reportage, a common technique in Minimalist pieces, they often convey processes of thought rather than physical, external action. Authors who write within the movement, such as Ernest Hemingway, explore psychological tension and distress, but seldom, if ever, as openly. Davis experiments with a number of forms, including missive and aphorism, thus contributing to the complexity and richness of the style.
Lydia Davis's Psychological Minimalism
ROBERT C. CLARK is an Assistant Professor of English at College of Coastal Georgia. He is the author of a book, American Literary Minimalism (University of Alabama Press, 2014), and he has recently published articles on David Foster Wallace, Raymond Carver, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Clark's research interests include digital and graphic narratives, short stories of the American South, literary Naturalism, and Transnational Minimalism.
Robert C. Clark; Lydia Davis's Psychological Minimalism. Studies in the American Short Story 1 April 2020; 1 (1): 38–52. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/studamershorstor.1.1.0038
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