Four Pieces

Ödön von Horváth

Ödön von Horváth was once walking in the Bavarian Alps when he discovered, at some distance from the path, the skeleton of a man.  The man had evidently been a hiker, since he was still wearing a knapsack. Von Horváth opened the knapsack, which looked almost as good as new.  In it, he found a sweater and other clothing;  a small bag of what had once been food;  a diary;  and a picture postcard of the Bavarian Alps, ready to send, that read, “Having a wonderful time.”


Brief Incident in Short a, Long a, and Schwa

Cat, gray tabby, calm, watches large, black ant.  Man, rapt, stands staring at cat and ant.  Ant advances along path.  Ant halts, baffled.  Ant back-tracks fast—straight at cat.  Cat, alarmed, backs away.  Man, standing, staring, laughs.  Ant changes path again.  Cat, calm again, watches again.


My Friend’s Creation

 We are in a clearing at night.  Along one side, four Egyptian goddesses of immense size are positioned in profile and lit from behind.  Black shapes of people come into the clearing and slip across the silhouettes.  A moon is pasted against the dark sky.  High up on a pole sits a cheerful, red-cheeked man who sings and plays a pipe.  Now and then, he climbs down from his pole.  He is my friend’s creation, and my friend asks me, “What shall he be singing?”


Contingency (Vs. Necessity)

He could be our dog.
But he is not our dog.
So he barks at us.



LYDIA DAVIS‘s story collections include Varieties of Disturbance, a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award; Samuel Johnson Is Indignant; and Almost No Memory, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis was published in 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She is the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship and was named a Chevalier of the Order of the Arts and Letters by the French government for her fiction and her translations of modern writers, including Proust, Flaubert, Maurice Blanchot, and Michel Leiris.

Issue #6 December 2011
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