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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

Growing up with Language

At the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival Eleanor Wachtel interviewed the American writer, Lydia Davis. Both of Davis’s parents were writers and her father taught at Columbia University. Wachtel asked her what it was like growing up in that environment:

It made you very self-conscious. . . But we couldn’t really say anything after a while – I mean after a certain age; I imagine at three I didn’t mind – but at a certain age we couldn’t speak without being aware of how we were saying something, how it was being phrased, as well as what we were saying. So if we made a sort of clumsy repetition, one of them might very well point out, sort of lightly with a smile, but it was a very language saturated household . . .

. . . my father would consider very carefully what I had said and that made me feel very insecure. I don’t know if this is a good example, but I remembered it just the other day. When he was in the nursing home – you know how you want to say the things that you don’t want to have forgotten to say . . . our family was not, as you can imagine, given to spontaneity – I said to him, “You’ve been a very good father,” I just wanted him to know that, and he said, “In what respect?”

Source: Brick Magazine

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