Can't and Won't

Can't and Won't

3.6 (2,765 ratings by Goodreads)
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A new collection of short stories from the woman Rick Moody has called "the best prose stylist in America" 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 storiesmay 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 slyhumor about the quotidian, revealing the mysterious, the foreign, the alienating, and the pleasurable within the predictable patternsof daily more

Product details

  • Hardback | 289 pages
  • 144 x 210 x 30mm | 419.99g
  • Farrar Straus Giroux
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0374118582
  • 9780374118587
  • 292,050

Review quote

Praise for "Can't and Won't ""Davis is an author who takes nothing for granted, even the form of the writing itself. Can a sentence be more than a sentence? How does experience reveal itself? These questions have been at the heart of Davis' career from the outset . . . 'Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work, Flaubert famously cautioned, and the sentiment applies to "Can't and Won't." At the center of the book is the understanding that we can locate stories anywhere, that the most regular and orderly moments are, in fact, the most violent and original, that it is up to us to notice, to re-create, to preserve . . . In many ways, "Can't and Won't" is like a set of William Burroughs cut-ups, random moments juxtaposed, one against the other, until reality takes on the logic of a collage. Unlike Burroughs, though, Davis' intent is not to rub out the word. Rather, language is what gives shape to the chaos, allowing us to invest existence with a shape. That this shape is of our making, our invention is the point precisely." --David Ulin, "The Los Angeles Times"" ""Some writers have the uncanny ability to slant your experiences. Read enough Lydia Davis and her stories start happening to you . . . Her stories have a way of affecting the sense so that indecision itself becomes drama and a mutual shrug between two strangers can take on more meaning. This is what the best and most original literature can do: make us more acutely aware of life on and off the page. To read Davis is to become a co-conspirator in her way of existing in the world, perplexity combined with vivid observation. Our most routine habits can suddenly feel radically new . . . Her work, which often consists of brief stories made up of seemingly mundane observations, resists classification and is especially immune to explanatory jibber-jabber. In a universe drowning in words, Davis is a respite .What she doesn't say is as important as what sheshow more

About Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis is the author of one novel and four previousstory collections, the most recent of which, "Varieties of Disturbance," was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award. She is alsothe 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 more

Rating details

2,765 ratings
3.6 out of 5 stars
5 22% (595)
4 37% (1,014)
3 27% (744)
2 11% (303)
1 4% (109)
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