I’m still reading a story here and a story there, and I’ve now made it through The Sixties! The first thing I’d recommend doing is checking out my intro post that also covered stories from the fifties, as I’m not going to repeat myself about the author and collection in general
Jumping right in, I think I moderately enjoyed the stories from the Sixties more than the Fifties. Davidson’s penchant for language and linguistics came out in a more accessible format for someone like me, who’s not a genius and just likes reading good stories.
The Real MVP is Spider Robinson’s intro to Sacheverell, because it’s hilarious and now I want to read everything Spider has written. Anyone recommend where to start?
The magic of a google search
Many more good points were made by the authors introducing the stories, the main one being that most of the time Davidson omits “the point” on purpose, and leaves the reader to connect the dots. I’m not good at this. LeGuin pointed out that he throws in a lot of humor and extras, to see if people know what they mean, like the term “freemartin”, and it enhances the stories obviously if you catch his hints. That said, I’m so worried that I’m missing a lot of jokes and insights 🤣
A few of the stories so far have just made no sense to me whatsoever, so I jotted down a few keywords and did a Google search. Walla, boom, like magic, a historical backdrop popped out. (I’m looking at you, The Price of a Charm).
Frankly I’d just love to read these stories with someone who’s a better literary critic, because most of my insights are coming from the author intros and I’d miss the cool things if not for them, but I’m getting the hang of this!
Let’s talk about a few specific stories for kicks:
- I read The Sources of the Nile twice, a few days apart, and I made more connections the second time around. Davidson had a lot of angst about what publishers & the public are looking for, I think, and he probably got a kick out of writing this one
- The Affair at Lahore Cantonment won an Edgar Award for best short story, and was on my reading list anyway for “reading that takes place in, or has meaning in London“. Personally I’m most enjoying the stories influenced by Davidson’s travels. On the other hand, this is one of the stories that makes me feel like I don’t appreciate good literature enough.
- I’m probably dumb. I thought Revolver had some good use of irony but I couldn’t see the humor 🤣
- The Tail-Tied Kings … This was just weird and mildly disturbing, I don’t want to think about it any more LOL
- The Price of a Charm I already mentioned above: this is the story that could have been read for what it was, until the end, where something happened and cast the rest into a light that made no sense. Well, insert Sarajevo into a search engine and BAM (no pun intended), a little background carries some of these stories a long way!
- Sacheverell I also mentioned above, frankly I just took the story for it’s surface value (some guy kidnapped a talking monkey) but it’s a layered story. I just listened to a podcast about it prior to writing this. Anyway, the real MVP was Spider Robinson’s intro to the story
- The House the Blakeney’s Built I also mentioned above, especially about LeGuin’s intro too. This is a great story about what Davidson thought a colony would look like about 500 years after a family’s ship crashed. Hint: it’s not Star Trek where everyone is still a genius. I loved this one and how the language had devolved. Real or fake, he can write language!
- The Goobers was straightforward and fun, loved the ending
- The Power of Every Root … I feel like I should have guessed the ending based off the title but I had gotten too lost in Davidson’s depictions of everything. As I said, the stories influenced by his travels are my favorites and I’m pretty sure he loved Mexico
Give me a couple more weeks and I’ll read the Seventies! I am reading this collection through a hardcover that I bought years ago, and partially through Audible as the book is currently free with membership. That small print gets me after a while! As always, all opinions are my own