Lydia Davis

Conversation in Hotel Lounge

Two women sit together on the sofa in the hotel lounge, bent over and deep in conversation.  I am walking through, on my way to my room.

First woman, loudly and distinctly:  “I never had fun before!”

I am surprised and intrigued–what a heart-to-heart they are having!  I try to imagine her life up to now.  I try to imagine what she has been experiencing recently, and also the revelation this must be to her–the concept of fun.  My thoughts take just a few seconds.

Second woman, speaking softly, inaudibly:  “[mumble, mumble].”

First woman:  “No, no.  Fun is a Chinese word.  Fun is Mandarin.  It means…a kind of rice noodle.

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Lydia Davis is well known for her very short, and very very short, stories. Her latest collection is Can’t and Won’t. She has won many awards for her fiction, including the Man Booker International Prize. Dana Goodyear of The New Yorker has said she is “one of the most original minds in American fiction today.”