I’ve been following the SFF community for a few years now, four of which I’ve been fairly active online, and I can honestly say that I’ve never once seen Avram Davidson mentioned in any sort of bookish dialogue. I’ve been trying to read more short stories, sample different American authors, and I’ve been holding onto the Avram Davidson Treasury for years now without reading it too closely. I tend to gravitate towards authors who are eclectic, are known to clash with publishers, and have found another to feature on veterans day as Davidson was a medic with the Navy in WWII.
Anyway, over the past few weeks I’ve read a story here and a story there, and have finally finished the first section: stories from The Fifties.
This is a cool book though. The cast of science fiction authors who selected and introduced stories are a true who’s who of everyone, sharing fun facts about the author himself and the stories within. I don’t know if I would have picked up on a lot of idiosyncracies and plot points without those comments, and I feel like I’m learning a lot about early SFF in general
Peter S. Beagle calls our attention to the careful language used in ‘Ogre in the Vly‘, a theme that I did notice throughout. Davidson tends to pay a lot of attention to accents and language in general. The Hugo winning short story “Or All the Seas With Oysters” is introduced by Guy Davenport, saying how the story lives on through plagiarism and it’s tenacity in making everyday objects into something so sinister.
Some I really enjoyed (Help! I am Dr. Morris Goldpepper and The Golem), some were sad (Now Let Us Sleep) and others I had to read a few times before grasping but laughed at the end (Author, Author). Others just went over my head, like Dagon, Ogre In the Vly and Take Wooden Indians. I can see where Or All the Seas With Oysters won a Hugo but also, some of these are just good reading. Others, uh, not so much.
This post just deleted half of itself somehow and I can’t even think of what is missing, send help… I know I had commented in general that short stories are hard. Trying to glean meaning and “what I’m supposed to be getting out of them” can be hard, especially when it’s 2023 and these were written in the fifties. That’s why I liked the author introductions so much. I always feel dumb reading short stories because I forget them SO quickly too.
If I missed anything I have four more eras to write about here and am curious to see how his writing changes over the years. I’d also be interested in checking out the episodes of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that he edited, to see what eclectic types of stories he brought in.