Wednesday, June 2, 2010
James R Lee
I'm not sure I really comprehend yet that Avner has passed from this life. I feel like he was one of my closest academic friends. Thinking back, we might have only spent about a week or two worth of time together, but his remarkable warmth and charm were so compelling that he always felt like an old childhood friend. I used to make sure to walk into conference sessions with Avner so he would have to sit beside me. He was a constant source of insight and wit, and as many others know, he was ruthlessly hilarious. Avnerian sarcasm was truly brilliant - somehow scathing and affectionate at the same time. He was a dedicated father, but also a perennial kid himself. I remember numerous underwater races in hotel swimming pools; Avner wouldn't just win - he would always make sure to hold his breath at least twice as long as me. And I remember his bizarre devotion to Curb your Enthusiasm. Once during a visit to Toronto, Avner arranged a viewing party at his house. There were probably ten of us huddled in his living room around a tiny 13" television, with him grinning ridiculously the whole time. I will miss him. I take some solace in the fact that his kids seem to have inherited a good deal of his charm and sense of humor. I'm sure that Avner will live on through his family and his friends.