It is with sadness that we report the death of novelist and journalist L.J. Davis, whose A Meaningful Life we were privileged to have published in 2009.
"L. J. Davis was a remarkable writer with a caustic sensibility that was very own his own. He was also a true character, scabrously funny and perfectly free of false piety. NYRB was lucky to publish his novel A Meaningful Life, one of the best books about not just New York but America in the strange decade of the 1970s, when the country lost its post-World War II optimism once and for all. I hope L.J. wrote down his wonderful and oft-told story about flooring (literally) a drunken George W. Bush. As far as I know it doesn’t make an appearance in Decision Points."
—Edwin Frank, Editor, NYRB Classics
"Mr. Davis was known among friends and editors as affable and voluble, a man who arrived at every personal encounter equipped with a capacious store of unusual facts and anecdotes he was prepared to dispense at the slightest provocation."
—L.J. Davis's obituary in The New York Times
"A little over a year ago, I interviewed Davis for a Forbes piece I was working on about NYRB Classics. When I first contacted him over email, he responded, “My dear fellow, this will be splendid; I will have much to say.” We made plans to meet at a little cafe near his apartment on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. 'Why not ring my bell at six?,' he wrote me the day we were to meet. 'That’ll give you time to hop over here. If you’re early, ring the bell anyway; I’m not a great fan of punctuality, having been raised (as I was) by compulsive right-wing fanatics.'"
Dante A. Ciampaglia, "A Meaningful Writer," Forbes.com
"We'll miss the funny, smarter-than-you way he wrote about money and urban life."
"I remember L.J. as an energetic, voluble man whose interests (and writing) were not at all confined to the literary. He knew a lot about all sorts of things, one of which was finance. His impersonal way of greeting you was to announce without preliminary some remarkable, usually grotesque piece of local news or information....
L.J. is a serious comic writer. His novels mingle Groucho Marx, a bit of Noël Coward, and some Theodore Dreiser.... I add to the mix Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Voyage au bout de la nuit (Voyage to the End of the Night), a masterpiece of loathing. Davis is not only serious, he is stern. Life is a hard business that we need to think about. But all our thought doesn’t keep it from being outrageously grotesque, unsuccessful, ridiculous. If I may bring in another illustration, he is like a novel-writing Buster Keaton."
Paula Fox, writing in
The New York Review of Books in 2009