Some of Lydia Davis’s stories are very, very short. Others a little longer. A few are normal-size. Many don’t seem like stories at all. At their best, they coolly parse feelings (and grammar) to the point where everything is dizzying—and yet freshly, disconcertingly clear. But her work isn’t nearly as pretentious as that last sentence is. One story, a brisk two-pager, is all about an inconclusively sourced fart.
Varieties of Disturbance
By Lydia Davis; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; $13.