Realism(s) #29, or: some little bare numb spot of ground


I guess you get to a point where you look at that pain as if it were there in front of you three feet away lying in a box, an open box, in a window somewhere. It's hard and cold, like a bar of metal. You just look at it there and say, All right, I'll take it, I'll buy it. That's what it is. Because you know all about it before you even go into this thing. You know the pain is part of the whole thing. And it isn't that you can say afterwards the pleasure was greater than the pain and that's why you would do it again. That has nothing to do with it. You can't measure it, because the pain comes after and lasts longer. So the question really is, Why doesn't that pain make you say, I won't do it again? When the pain is so bad that you have to say that, but you don't.

--James Salter's beautiful, laconic reading of Break it Down by Lydia Davis. Text from The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (Penguin, 2011), p.24. Also, recently on Salter: James Meek in the LRB, and Sarah Nicole Prickett on A Sport and a Pastime