‘Television’ by Lydia Davis

Davis, Lydia 2007

Television by Lydia Davis, 2007

The magic trick:

Telling a story through a narrator’s only semi-connected thoughts

This isn’t so much a story as it is a series of loosely connected thoughts. There isn’t a plot or much in the way of cause and effect. What is especially interesting about the thoughts is their varying degree of analysis. Some sit flat, begging to be criticized by the reader. The narrator likes quiz shows, or the narrator mentions a soap-opera styled plot in one of the other programs on TV. These put the onus on the reader to analyze. But the other thoughts find the narrator doing the analyzing, sometimes often poetically, making comments about this life at home and society as a whole. It’s a striking narration. And that’s quite a trick on Davis’s part.

The selection:

It’s not that I really think this show about Hawaiian policemen is very good, it’s just that it seems more real than my own life.

Different routes through the evening: Channels 2, 2, 4, 7, 9, or channels 13, 13, 13, 2, 2, 4, etc. Sometimes it’s the police dramas I want to see, other times the public television’s documentaries, such as one called Swamp Critturs.

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