The Two Davises And The Rug by Lydia Davis, 2013
The magic trick:
Using what at first appears to be a quirky detail as the main means to developing the story’s theme
A while back on the SSMT site, we looked at a Lydia Davis story, “The Sock,” that built its emotional theme around a mundane object. She’s up to something similar in today’s feature, this time employing an old rug.
I like the other device here even better. She presents the two neighboring Davises unrelated but having the same name as something quirky and funny. The fact comes and goes in the first sentence. But the shared name actually plays a role in the story. Not simply a quirky entry point, the shared name becomes the means to conserving indecision and paralysis. And that’s quite a trick on Davis’s part.
Meanwhile, however, the days were passing, and she worried very much about the other Davis. She felt that he had clearly wanted to try the rug out, and she was selfishly keeping it even though she had been willing to sell it — and for only ten dollars. She felt that he probably wanted it, or admired it, more than she did. And yet she did not want to give up something that she had once admired enough to buy in the first place, and that other people also admired, and that she might like very much if she cleaned it up.
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