Remembering Amanda Davis

Heidi Julavits

Amanda Davis, author of the short story collection Circling the Drain (Rob Weisbach Books, 1999) and cornerstone presence to many in and beyond the literary world, died in a plane crash on March 15, 2003, while on tour promoting her first novel, Wonder When You'll Miss Me, published by William Morrow in February. She was 32 years old.

I met Amanda at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in the summer of 1997. We were both waiters as part of our work-study scholarships—both of us restaurant grunts in our real lives. just. She had just published her first novel to high acclaim. She had just moved to Oakland from Brooklyn to accept a prestigious teaching position at Mills College. Her boyfriend, Anthony Schneider, also a fiction writer, was just about to join her from New York City. She'd just made a lot of dear friends on the West Coast, who are bereft and galled by the sudden absence of this person who'd so quickly assumed such an undeniable importance in their daily lives. She'd just been to the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire during her winter break, where she'd just begun a new novel, the novel, I am convinced, from the gleeful and confident way she talked about it. She'd just become an aunt. Amanda Davis was a vibrant, soulful writer and person. Those who knew her as an artist and a human being will interminably hurt from her loss.

Heidi Julavits is the author of The Mineral Palace (Putnam, 2000) and The Effect of Living Backwards, forthcoming from Putnam in July.