Pushcart 2012: Lydia Davis, “Five” from Little Star #1, 2010

Photo by Jon's Magic Lens

Photo by Jon's Magic Lens

Into how small a space the word judgment can be compressed: it must fit inside the brain of a ladybug as she, before my eyes, makes a decision.

I’m a big fan of micro-fiction. I worship at the feet of Randall Brown, my flash idol; even when I don’t get exactly what he’s doing, I’m intrigued by how he does it.

And I very much like these micros by Lydia Davis. But I like some of Randall’s better than some of these, and I’m puzzled by how this collection of five micros is Pushcart-worthy whereas others are not. My guess is: if you’re only going to allow one set of micros or flashes in the Pushcart volume for a given year, it’s got to be a “name.”

Be that as it may, it’s a lovely little set. I’m wowed by JUDGMENT (quoted above), her HOUSEKEEPING OBSERVATION, the artist so enrapt by THE SKY ABOVE LOS ANGELES that she is lured away from her painting, and the comparison of the pleasures of the narrator reading with the dog licking its leg while SITTING WITH MY LITTLE FRIEND (even if the title does evoke Bob Dole’s 90’s era Pepsi commercial/Viagra spoof; that’s my warped mind, and I take full responsibility for it). I’m not so sure about HANDEL, but that’s me.

Overall, it’s a cavalcade of thought, art, music, the physical world, the compromise of marriage, and joy of reading, a portrait of a woman I might like to know, and, I’m grasping here, examination of the ability we all have to judge the world around us: the sky is more beautiful than my painting, pained tolerance of a husband’s Handel obsession is worth it (I had a husband who played Viennese operetta all day, I can sympathize), a reasonable view of a dirty floor, and the sensual nature of reading.

But my (micro)heart still belongs to Randall Brown.

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