avis works backwards. Is this a novel about a failed romance or about writing a novel? Both, in fact, but it’s hard to know because everything about this prose lullaby is elliptical by intention. The nameless narrator assembles details, fills in blanks, grows wistful: but has she lost the real or the imagined? She wonders of her lover “if I was his future or he was my past.” A novel is to some extent an affirmation of failure — creatures of the page remain there, locked.
At one point, the narrator, reading Faulkner, has the book literally come apart, but “the story remained present in the room.” It “hung there.” Davis perfects the literature of self-involvement without for an instant indulging herself. A masterpiece.