Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stupid Heart

I am obsessed with this tiny gem of a story by Lydia Davis. It's called 'Head, Heart'. This is the complete story:
Heart weeps.
Head tries to help heart.
Head tells heart how it is, again:
You will lose the ones you love. They will all go. But even the earth will go, someday.
Heart feels better, then.
But the words of head do not remain long in the ears of heart.
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says heart.
Head is all heart has.
Help, head. Help heart.
I love how succinctly she tells this story and consequently how powerful it is.

The way our hearts are so stupid. So very stupid. When will they face facts? Just as surely as we are born we all die. It's the way it is - the old die to make room for the young. Where would we be if it weren't so? Hear that, heart! You need to toughen up. What's the matter with you?

How perfect that last line is, how poignant: 'Help, head. Help heart.' Every time I read it my own heart aches in response.

In The New Yorker of October 19, 2009, James Wood writes beautifully about Lydia Davis's work.


  1. Thanks, Viv, for this intro to Lydia Davis. What a gem. So much conveyed, with so little...

    Reminds me of the job applicant who, when asked to describe himself in 50 words or less, wrote: "Concise."

  2. Great comment, Steve. Love that story.