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A Meaningful Life
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A Meaningful Life (Paperback)

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Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945 Publisher: The New York Review of Books, Inc Publication Date: 07/05/2009 ISBN-13: 9781590173008  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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More books by L.J. Davis

Customer Reviews

"What do you say, let's have some coffee?" broke in Leo's voice with a quavery. fearful brightness. Lowell looked over and discovered him sitting in his chair with his feet far apart and his hands resting limply in his lap, like he was paralyzed from the neck down and his unimaginative nurse had arranged his limbs for him. He looked inoffensive but not very lifelike, and there was a weak, hopeful little smile on his face. "How about it, what do you say? Coffee? Nice hot coffee for everyone? Maybe with a little cake?" A black comedy that becomes darker and darker and far less funny as it progresses, culminating in a particularly bleak end where all traces of the book's earlier coruscating wit are gone, and its cheerfully astute cynicism has become something far more haunting and damning. Davis's language is superb - slightly redolent of Edward Lewis Wallant's The Tenants Of Moonbloom (also a NYRB Classic that actually is a lost classic) to which it is almost a companion piece of New York slum satire. Its carefully detached bemusement and amusement trace its protagonist's strange and desperate attempt to renovate a once beautiful Brooklyn mansion. Two comic sequences stand out for me - Lowell's bizarre attempt to escape from his parents on the night before his wedding, and the (genuinely) Kafkaesque absurdity of the bribery of 'the city man'. But it is the grim depiction of those left to rot in forgotten neighbourhoods of the city that makes this such a powerful satire.

- 08/10/2011
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