08 August 2010

There will be cows: the FT's Lunch with Lydia Davis

The Weekend Financial Times often does wonders with their Weekend "Lunch with the FT" interviews. Here's the end of a nicely quirky piece on writer Lydia Davis: "As we walk to the car, she tells me about a recent project, based on dreams and dream-like experiences, inspired in part, she says, by French surrealist Michel Leiris, whose work she has translated. A thunderstorm is brewing outside and Davis drives me to the train station. As we draw up outside it starts to pour but Davis hops out of the car to stand under an awning for a moment so she can show me two pictures from her wallet. The first is her home – a large redbrick schoolhouse covered in ivy with large windows. The second is a photograph of two cows – standing in the snow like black cut-outs on white paper, staring flatly at the camera. Something about the picture is irresistibly funny.

"She sent the photo, she tells me, to her friend Rae Armantrout, a poet, who called her afterwards. “She asked me why I had sent her a picture of two pigs strung up on a spit,” says Davis – and then turns the picture upside down.

"I can see what she means; the line of horizon does resemble a wire, and the cows do look a bit like pigs. “It was just one of those confusions,” she says, shrugging.

"Then she bids me farewell, and drives away."