Monday, September 28, 2009

Remembering Amanda Davis

In a recent and excellent interview, Dark Sky Magazine's Kevin Murphy spoke with Matt Bell about editing Dzanc's Books Best of the Web series, as well as the state of online publishing and other general topics.

Speaking on the rising reputation of quality online magazines, Matt Bell pointed to the much celebrated magazine,, where readers can go back as far as its 2001 Issue to read stellar stories by excellent writers. I was so happy Matt mentioned Amanda Davis and her wonderful story from that issue "Louisiana Loses Its Cricket Hum."

While earning my MFA at Mills College, I had the good fortune and great pleasure of taking two of Amanda's classes. She was an excellent writer and teacher, and a wonderful human being. She was so alive. On March 14th 2003, while touring to promote her first novel Wonder When You'll Miss Me a plane carrying Amanda Davis and her parents crashed into a mountain in North Carolina. There were no survivors. Amanda was thirty-two.

In a tribute to Amanda on the McSweeney's site I wrote:

The title of her novel, Wonder When You'll Miss Me, the flight motifs in her work — I'm thinking especially of the novel and the title story from her collection, Circling The Drain — in those first dark days seemed eerie, an uncanny foreshadowing, and yet now, knowing Amanda better through remembering and stretching the moments with her, re-seeing those tiny details: her pushing her curls behind her ears, the clink of her charm bracelet, the blue stars tattooed on her forearm, the "come-on" gesture she'd make with her hands and arms ....... I now see the motifs in her work not as disturbing given her tragic death, but instead as themes that attest to the short but zesty life that she led, during which she soared.

Please read Amanda's story "Louisiana Loses Its Cricket Hum." It's terrific. I can think of no better way to honor her memory than to encourage others to read her powerful work, her legacy.

We who were not there cannot possibly understand how they came like flies: swarming up all of a sudden and buzzing over the horizon, thickening the sky with their heavy shadows. We were playing poker at Jimmy's-beer sweating, fans going round and round, the sound of pool clicking the moments by. Everyone admits it: we all felt the dense Louisiana air disappear and an icy breeze slice through.

--Louisiana Loses Its Cricket Hum by Amanda Davis


  1. Ethel, thanks so much for this great post. I absolutely love CIRCLING THE DRAIN--it's one of my favorite books of stories--and I'm glad that my minor mention brought back your memories of her. I'm also, of course, very jealous that you got to study with her. She's the kind of writer who charms you with every word she writes, and I'm glad to hear her private self was just as welcoming.

  2. Matt, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Yes, Amanda's private self was just as welcoming and charming.