Saturday, September 9, 2017

"Break it Down" by Lydia Davis Review

Lydia Davis's short story "Break it Down" explores what love is all about. Not love in general but according to a man, the narrator, who had a few days' experience of being in affairs with the girl for money.

He recounted again and again how much it cost for him to have love with this girl dividing all amount of money by the number of times of being in intimate affairs with her (the price was high in that case) or by all the days spent together (the price became much lower in this calculation).

The main part of the text was dedicated to describing the feelings of the main male character who was in love with the girl. The author, Lydia Davis, is a woman and she made the description of their love affair very sensitive and true to life. Here is the quote from the story, thoughts of the man:

"But it isn't over when it ends, it goes on after it's all over, she's still inside you like a sweet liquor, you are filled with her, everything about her has kind of bled into you, her smell, her voice, the way her body moves, it's all inside you, at least for a while after, then you begin to lose it, and I'm beginning to lose it, you're afraid of how weak you are, that you can't get her all back into you again and now the whole thing is going out of your body and it's more in your mind than your body, the pictures come to you one by one ..."

There is a moment in the story when the narrator concluded that he was in love with the girl and after saying it to her, she answered then she was in love with him too. He took it as returning back polite phrase, not more, and started to calculate the expenditure for being with her again.

The readers may conclude that it was hardly ever happened that they were in love with her even when he explained sincerely his feelings: " ... there was one bad time, when I told her I loved her. I couldn't help it, ... now I was half falling in love with her or maybe completely ..., really I couldn't say anything of what I was feeling because there was so much, words couldn't handle it ..." .

The controversy of his feeling was demonstrated by the author in the scene of their farewell. Saying bye to each other, she gave him her shirt "a green and blue shirt from the hook, and put it in my arms, for me to take away, the soft cloth was full of her smell ...". But in the last line of the story, the narrator said: "So I'm just thinking about it, how you can go in with $600, more like $1,000, and how you can come out with an old shirt."

Lydia Davis left to the reader a freedom to make own interpretation of the story and it doesn't look obvious that she condemned the main character, she might sympathize him.



These are the links to the text, audio, and video about this story:

Break it Down by Lydia Davis
http://smotherings.blogspot.ru/2012/06/break-it-down-by-lydia-davis_05.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/audio/2013/may/23/james-salter-lydia-davis-break-it-down

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI51-IoZSCc