Included in the “long list” of One Story’s top ten favorite short stories is Mother’s Reaction to My Travel Plans by Lydia Davis. This is a peculiar story to be included on the list, though I do believe it is a great short story. The title of this short story is six words. The story itself is eight words. And it is marvelous. Of course, I can’t quote from the story or I’d give it away. You’ll have to pick it up and read it yourself.
When I re-read this story, which obviously didn’t take long, I laughed. I put the book on my chest and thought for a few moments and laughed out loud. I picked the book back up and read it and laughed again. This short story, this sentence, will remind nearly all of us of something our mothers have said at one time or another, for every mother has said something which makes their offspring shake their head in disbelief.
After Raymond Carver, no writer has made me re-think the short story form more than Lydia Davis. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis has become a fixture on my nightside table. Many of her short stories are under a page, a few are one sentence. Many consider her work to be a blending of poetry and short story. These are not conventional short stories, but they are little gems that open up universal truths.
If you plan on going into your local bookstore just to read the one story, please don’t. You will also want to read my favorite Lydia Davis story, Meat, My Husband. You should read Fear. And Spring Spleen. Simply said, you should read her collection. I was thrilled to see Lydia on the list.