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Avram Davidson
November 18, 2002 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Cyprus was another world.

The city of Paphos might have been designed and built by a Grecian architect dreamy with the drugs called talaquin or mandragora: in marble yellow as unmixed cream, marble pink as sweetmeats, marble the green of pistuquim nuts, veined marble and grained marble, honey-colored and rose-red, the buildings climbed along the hills and frothed among the hollows. Tier after tier of overtall pillars, capitals of a profusion of carvings to make Corinthian seem ascetic, pediments lush with bas-reliefs, four-fold arches at every corner and crossing, statues so huge that they loomed over the housetops, statues so small that whole troops of them flocked and frolicked under every building's eaves, groves and gardens everywhere, fountains playing, water spouting . . .

Paphos.


Avram Davidson

He was the autodidact's autodidact; cognoscenti's cognocenti; the polymath's polymath, one who knew the minutiae of freemasonry, heraldry-any number of categories of the arcane, major and minor; front to back; top to bottom. Long before the genre Steam punk was named, he'd already defined the Other Nineteenth Century. And he wrote the most sumptuous prose.

Come step within the heirodule enclosure
posted by y2karl (17 comments total)

 
Linebreaks & FPP consumption downright ballsy.
posted by xmutex at 10:11 PM on November 18, 2002


But don't take my word for it, here are a second and third opinion.

Here is The House The Blakeneys Built. Here and later is Young Vergil and the Wizard. Note that the latter host, Infinite Matrix, truly a treasure and very worthy, is in dire straits--those who of you who can should drop some coins into the bowl there. Also, we should note and explore THE NUTMEG POINT DISTRICT MAIL.
posted by y2karl at 10:11 PM on November 18, 2002


It reads like 4AD liner notes.
posted by four panels at 10:39 PM on November 18, 2002


Well crap, now I have to buy some Avram Davidson books.

Thanks for nothing, y2karl.
posted by Hildago at 10:39 PM on November 18, 2002


I found that link to be extremely disturbing, in a sickening and repulsive way, but I have no idea why. Are there really people yelling, "Trick or Treat" and laughing?

It was like following a dog's adventures from pot to stew. Real weird morbid fascination.
posted by son_of_minya at 10:58 PM on November 18, 2002


I've been sporadically searching for Davidson's Adventures in Unhistory, collected, since I was knee-high to something really short.

They probably aren't as good as I remember, but still.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:37 AM on November 19, 2002


Well crap, now I have to buy some Avram Davidson books.

Please note Hildago isn't buying Davidson's books because of the great importance they give to Hidalgo. [This is another public announcement in the "Stop Misspelling Hildago's Nick" campaign.]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:30 AM on November 19, 2002


y2karl, you keep posting my personal landmarks. I've loved Davidson ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and he was editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; his bemused, worldly/otherworldly, recondite Editor's Notes (and of course his dense and delightful stories) twisted the folds of my cortex and helped turn me into the Rosetta stoner I am today. I looked for years for a copy of the adventures of Doctor Engelbert Eszterhazy, of the Triune Monarchy of Scythia- Pannonia-Transbalkania, and finally found one, and I'm not lending it to anyone. Last time I looked, almost all of his work was out of print, a sad commentary on the current state of sf (and America).
posted by languagehat at 8:23 AM on November 19, 2002


I've loved Davidson ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and he was editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction; his bemused, worldly/otherworldly, recondite Editor's Notes (and of course his dense and delightful stories) twisted the folds of my cortex...

Oh, man, yes--those page-and-a-half story introductions and his book reviews, of which Avram Davidson on Howard Philips Lovecraft, from the inestimable Ephemera & Digressions page, gives a flavor. Funny, you should comment, languagehat--I was just thinking you were certainly a Avram aficionado while noting Henry Wessel, who compiled the Avram Davidson website, shares a few interests with you.
posted by y2karl at 9:14 AM on November 19, 2002


dam it karl, your cutting into my x-mas list now. I must say, the tent of dr. Lao is getting stranger. I had barely heard of Davidson before. I found it interesting that the marines let him keep his beard. something Whitmanesque about that.

MeFi gold to our minister of kulturekarl.
posted by clavdivs at 10:23 AM on November 19, 2002


Last time I looked, almost all of his work was out of print

I think the The Avram Davidson Treasury collection is still in print.
posted by richardm at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2002


Another fine and interesting post from Karl. Thank you ! [*applauds*]
posted by Lynsey at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2002


I think the The Avram Davidson Treasury collection is still in print.

And may I point out Michael Dirda's Washington Post review thereof?
posted by y2karl at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2002


What a great review. "...his admirers have likened Davidson to Saki, Chesterton, John Collier, Lafcadio Hearn, Kipling, even I.B. Singer and S.J. Perelman. And you can see what they mean. I would add that he frequently reminds me of the New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell..." Yes, I can see all of that: his pitch-perfect ear for registers of language and use thereof for the dryest of humor does remind me of Perelman, for instance. And now I'm going to have to get the book. In fact, I've just added it and The Other Nineteenth Century ("This wonderfully eclectic and literate collection assembles most of the late author's short SF and fantasy not already reprinted in The Avram Davidson Treasury") to my Amazon wish list, having been forbidden on pain of wifely torture to actually buy books between now and the crypto-pagan holiday(s) during which we all fling gaudily wrapped parcels at one another. But one way or another, it's gonna be my subway reading come January.
posted by languagehat at 1:32 PM on November 19, 2002


The first time I heard of him was while listening to Selected Shorts on NPR. Leonard Nimoy read The Golem. A great little story and I've been eager to read more of his stuff. Thankfully, y2karl is a ballsy fellow.
posted by john at 4:07 PM on November 19, 2002


Dang, john, I missed that one. If it was from Jewish Short Stories, it's not archived yet, but look at what else they have--The Place by Edith Konecky, read by Julie Kavner. Gimpel the Fool by I.B. Singer, read by Eli Wallach and A Meal For the Poor by Mordecai Spector, read by Alan King, among others. What voices they have listed. There's a bookmark.
posted by y2karl at 5:22 PM on November 19, 2002


I googled for a while and found that site too, but alas, no trace of an online recording of Nimoy's performance. The only thing that came up was this reference to it being played on April 15 2001.

That site does remind me of a different project hosted by Jerry Stiller as Shalom the Story Peddler, "My tales are so plentiful they reach around the earth and back again."

I heard part of that on NPR too. The portion that exists on CD #3. All fun stories. I especially enjoyed The Feather Merchants and The Turkey Prince.
posted by john at 9:17 PM on November 19, 2002


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