Now that I had read what my father wrote about the men bringing the coal in across the snow, I had no doubt these boards were put down for the coal delivery here too. I was excited to discover this.

I wrote back to my father about what I had discovered, knowing that for several reasons he would be less interested in my coal furnace than his memories of his own. It is natural for an old man to be more engrossed in his memories than the present. But he has also always been more interested in his own ideas than anyone else’s.

Although he likes to have conversations with other people and hear what they say, he does not know what to do with an idea of someone elses’s except to use it as a starting point from which to produce an even better idea of his own. His own ideas are certainly interesting, often the most interesting in a given situation. He has always been good company at a dinner party, even though as he aged, a time came when he would have to leave the table part of the way through and go lie down for a while.

Lydia Davis The Furnace



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