L. J. Davis's A Meaningful Life is a blistering black comedy about gentrification and its discontents, a gritty picture of the collapsing New York of the 1970s, a prophetic send-up of middle-class anxieties and ambitions. Just out of college, Lowell Lake, the Western-born hero of Davis's 1971 novel, heads to New York, where he plans to make it big as a writer. Instead he finds a job as a technical editor, at which he toils away while passion leaks out of his marriage to a nice Jewish girl. Then Lowell discovers a beautiful crumbling mansion in a decaying and crime-ridden section of Brooklyn, and against all advice, not to mention his wife's exasperated remonstrations, sinks his every penny into buying it. He quits his job, moves in, and spends all his time on demolition and construction. His mission in life is to restore this house to its past grandeur, to dig up its lost history. This American boy wants to fix what's gone wrong with his life. He wants to make good, and he will even murder to do it. Real estate and redemption: A Meaningful Life is a ferociously funny and smart story of obsessive, disastrous, all-American romance.
This long out-of-print novel by a reclusive author, about a Brooklyn writer who tries to salvage his mundane life by fixing up a house in a crime-ridden neighborhood, was rescued from obscurity by novelist Jonathan Lethem, who furnishes the introduction to this new edition. Originally published in 1971, the book was critically acclaimed for its dark humor and disturbing descent into obsession. The novel's protagonist, Lowell Lake, invests everything he has in a dilapidated mansion in the middle of one of the worst neighborhoods in New York. Lake soon perceives the house as his last chance to achieve something notable and fulfill his once-promising future, and he is willing to go to lethal lengths to complete the project.
- Fiction + Literature Themes, Fiction + Literature Genres
- Literary, Humorous Fiction
- New York Review of Books
- March 10, 2009
- March 10, 2009
- L.J. Davis