If Lydia Davis Wasn’t a Writer, She’d Devote Herself to Climate Activism
(As If We Didn't Love Her Enough Already)
Lydia Davis’ new collection Our Strangers, is available now from Bookshop Editions, so we asked her a few questions about her writing, reading, and more.
How do you tackle writer’s block?
I don’t really have writer’s block anymore. When I first started out, I certainly did just sit there wondering what to write about. By now I’ve begun so many interesting projects and worked hard on them that I could go back to any one of them and just continue.
And that actually would be my advice: don’t be too neat about finishing something before starting something new. Keep many pieces going at once and you’ll never face a blank page (or screen).
Name a classic you feel guilty about never having read (why)?
The book I’m sure I would enjoy is Don Quixote. I did persuade my book club to let that be my choice one month—but just the first hundred pages or so. We did enjoy it. I’m told by someone who has read the whole of it that it’s engrossing and even funny. Some day I’ll go on….
How do you decide what to read next?
I’m always reading many books at once. Some I finish, some I come back to later. I order books through my local second-hand bookstore, both new and second-hand. Sometimes I dive right into the latest one to come into the house. Other times I scan my own bookshelves to see which one I might want to go on with, or start.
I read fiction, memoir, ecological landscaping, poetry, science, biography, social studies, and more….I’m also going through my library to get rid of books—but in the process I sometimes discover a great one I’d never opened before, and I settle down with it.
Which non-literary piece of culture could you not imagine your life without?
I could not imagine my life without classical music in general—the works of Bach in particular.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you do instead?
Right now, I would devote myself full time to climate activism—we are living in a full scale emergency and nothing should be more important. As it is, I spend many hours a week on various climate mitigation projects in my village—planting native gardens, bringing in speakers on different energy-related topics, helping to organize an invasive plant removal day in our local community forest, and more.
Our Strangers by Lydia Davis is available via Bookshop Editions.