By L. J. Davis
L. J. Davis's 1971 novel, A significant Life, is a blistering black comedy concerning the American quest for redemption via actual property and a gritty photograph of latest York urban in cave in. simply out of faculty, Lowell Lake, the Western-born hero of Davis's novel, heads to long island, the place he plans to make it tremendous as a author. as an alternative he reveals a task as a technical editor, at which he toils away whereas ardour leaks out of his marriage to a pleasant Jewish lady. Then Lowell discovers a gorgeous crumbling mansion in a crime-ridden component to Brooklyn, and opposed to all recommendation, let alone his wife's will, sinks his each penny into procuring it. He quits his activity, strikes in, and spends day and evening on demolition and building. eventually he has a project: he'll dig up the misplaced heritage of his condo; he'll restoration it to its prior grandeur. he'll make reliable on every little thing that's long past flawed along with his existence, and he'll even homicide to do it.
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Extra info for A Meaningful Life (New York Review Books Classics)
The recent move toward politics and history in literary studies has turned the analysis of texts into a marionette theater of the political, to which we bring all the passions of our real-world commitments. And that's why it is sometimes necessary to remind ourselves of the distance from the classroom to the streets. Academic critics write essays, "readings" of literature, where the bad guys (for example, racism or patriarchy) lose, where the forces of oppression are subverted by the boundless powers of irony and allegory that no prison can contain, and we glow with hard-won triumph.
At first I thought it was a moving slag heap, but it wasn't. All at once I felt sick and dizzy. Heaped high on the conveyor belt, thousands and thousands of books were being fed into a belching, grinding mechanical maw. Turned into pulp. I could make out only some of the titles. There were fat novels by James Jones and Erskine Caldwell and Thomas Wolfe and James T. Farrell and Pearl Buck. Thin novels by Nelson Algren and William Saroyan. The old Brooks and Warren Understanding Poetry nestled beside the collected plays of Clifford Odets.
I think they are. And that has a lot to do with what I think the task of the critic today must be. Simone de Beauvoir wrote that one is not born a woman; no, and one is not born a Negro; but then, as Donna Haraway has pointed out, one isn't even born an organism. Lord knows that black art has been attacked for well over a century as being "not universal," though no one ever says quite what this might mean. " This line of argument is an echo from the political right. As Allan Bloom wrote: . . [T]he substantial human contact, indifferent to race, soul to soul, that prevails in all other aspects of student life simply does not usually exist between the two races.