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Lydia Davis

The Cows

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Winner of the Man Booker International Prize“You read Lydia Davis to watch a writer patiently divide the space between epiphany and actual human beings by first halves, then quarters, then eighths, and then sixteenths, into infinity,” says The Village Voice. Indeed, Lydia Davis is mathematician, philosopher, sculptor, jeweler, and scholar of the minute. Few writers map the process of thought as well as she, few perceive with such charged intelligence.The Cows is a close study of the three much-loved cows that live across the road from her. The piece, written with understated humor and empathy, is a series of detailed observations of the cows on different days and in different positions, moods, and times of the day. It could be compared to some sections of Wallace Stevens' “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” or to Claude Monet's paintings of Rouen Cathedral.Forms of play: head butting; mounting, either at the back or at the front; trotting away by yourself; trotting together; going off bucking and prancing by yourself; resting your head and chest on the ground until they notice and trot toward you; circling each other; taking the position for head-butting and then not doing it.She moos toward the wooded hills behind her, and the sound comes back. She moos in a high falsetto before the note descends abruptly, or she moos in a falsetto that does not descend. It is a very small sound to come from such a large, dark animal.
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45 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
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    Ivana Melgozashared an impression2 years ago
    👍Worth reading

    Desearía vivir en este libro o ser una vaquita y vivir en paz pastando y lamiendo a mis compañeras frente a la casa de Lydia Davis.

    anaismadaishared an impression2 years ago


    Анастасия Мотовиловаshared an impression3 years ago


    Ivana Melgozahas quoted2 years ago
    But as the dusk turns to dark, while the sky above the woods is still a purplish blue, it is harder and harder to see their black bodies against the darkening field. Then they can’t be seen at all, but they are still out there, grazing in the dark.
    Ivana Melgozahas quoted2 years ago
    Other neighbors may be away, from time to time, but the cows are always there, in the field. Or, if they are not in the field, they are in the barn.

    I know that if they are in the field, and if I go up to the fence on this side, they will, all three, sooner or later come up to the fence on the other side, to meet me.
    Ivana Melgozahas quoted2 years ago
    They do sometimes protest—when they have no water, or can’t get into the barn. One of them, usually the darkest, will moo in a perfectly regular blast twenty or more times in succession.

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