In addition to being Talbot Munday’s birthday (see previous post), today, April 23, is also Avrm Davidson’s birthday. Born in 1923, Avram Davidson was one of the most original and uinque writers of fantasy in the mid-20th Century.
Davidson won multiple awards in variety of genres, including the Hguo (“All the Seas with Oysters”), an Edgar Award, and three World Fantasy Awards as well as a World Fantasy Lifetime achievement Award. He was the editor of F&SF from 1962-1964.
He wrote novels, but I’ve always thought of him as primarily a short story writer. His work is characterized by wit and erudition. It’s not fluff and requires concentration. One of his books I need to revisit is Adventures in Unhistory, a collection of essays in which Davidson speculated on the origins of myths and legneds. I’ve never read anything else quite like it.
Unfortunately in this age five, six, or more volume “trilogies”, the type of fiction he wrote is out of style and his work is largely forgotten. This is a shame, because he was one of the most original writers the field has ever produced. I once heard a panel on “What Writers Will We Be Reading 100 Years From Now?” in which Neil Gaiman listed Davidson. And when I visited with Peter S. Beagle last year, he told me how he used to visit with Davidson and listen to him. Beagle encouraged him to talk about whatever was on his mind because it would be fascinating and educational. I must admit I was a bit jealous when he told me that.
It’s late, but tomorrow I’m going to read some of his work. If you would like to give him a try, much of his work is available in electronic form in reasonably priced editions.