This book pissed me off a little. It's not that there aren't flashes of greatness in this ultra-short story collection.Because there are, particularly in the title story. But at her very worst, Lydia Davis inundates her readers with terse anecdotes or observations that don't seem to have anything going for them. They aren't linguistically or rhythmically interesting.They don't suggest or allude to some Grand Ineffable Something going on behind the scenes.They aren't affecting.They aren't amusing.They're often just flat reportage of nothing at all very interesting.
For example.In one two-page story, the narrator describes how her husband (or boyfriend, I forget) gets a fish bone stuck in his throat in France. They try various remedies but nothing dislodges it. They go to the hospital. [Spoiler!] A doctor uses some medical tool to remove it. End of story. There's no affective embellishment to the story, no oblique commentary on relationships or foreignness or even fish bones. It's just an anecdote. There's nothing else there.
I do like very short fiction in general (because my attention span is dwindling with age), but brevity demands precision and economy. In this collection, Davis is not quite there.