Authors: Avram Davidson
Hector trotted out. A moment later he returned close enough to call a name before proceeding to the physician’s office.
“What did he say?” Don Juan Antonio inquired. “Who?”
Ana. You know, the—”
“What?” Don Juan Antonio was surprised. “
Ana? Who would have expected it? She had been dying as long as I can remember her. Well, well, well …” His mouth still astonished, he lifted his right hand and slowly crossed himself.
I had the good fortune to know Avram best during the eventful years from 1962 to 1964. The events included his marriage to Grania, a move from New York to Milford, PA (I drove him and his cats down to Pennsylvania, a ride full of laughs and ripe smells), and another move to Mexico.
These were the years when he took a detour from his writing to edit
What initially impressed his young assistant (me) was his witty and scholarly story introductions. But what has stayed with me the most is the remarkable care and sensitivity with which he handled each submission, perhaps the result of the fact that he had not always been treated with courtesy as a writer.
In 1964 Avram resigned as editor to return to full-time writing. My father wrote to him that “you’ve done an extraordinarily fine job under very trying circumstances” (i.e., being mostly over one thousand miles from the office without even a phone close at hand), and Avram replied:
Thank you for your kind and complimentary letter about your satisfaction with my work as editor. I have not done as well as I wished to, but I think that I did as well as a part-time and absent person of my habits could. It was an honor and a pleasure to have this work. I appreciate the fact that you at all times treated me like a gentleman. Needless to say that I wish my successors, and The Magazine under their hands, all possible success. Meanwhile, I forge ahead on my writing and hope to have time for short stories before the end of the year …
After I succeeded Avram as editor, he sent me a story that I loved, but I asked for some minor changes. Avram made them and returned the piece to his agent, who promptly sold it to another market. Avram sent me “Selectra Six-Ten” as a replacement; I loved it even more and it appeared in
October 1970 issue.
His Honor the Ed., F&SF
Well, whilst sorry that you didn’t feel BELINDA BEESWAX didn’t exactly and immediately leap up and wrap her warm, white (or, in this case,
) arms around you, so to speak, nevertheless I am bound to admit that your suggestions for its revision don’t altogether seem difficult or unreasonable. Though, mind you, it is against my moral principles to admit this to any editor. Even you. However. This once. I’ll do, I think I shd be able to do the rewrites quite soonly, and whip them off to you with the speed of light. At least, the speed of whatever dim light it is which filters through the window of our local Post Office and its 87,000 friendly branches throughout the country.
By the way, excuse absence of mrag, or even marger Oh you would you . Take that. And THAT. AND THSTHATHAT. har har, he laughed harshly. The lack of margins. There. I have just gotten a new tripewriter; viz an Selectra Six-Ten, with Automated Carriage
hahahaHA! I can’t resist it, just impress the tab and without sweat or indeed evidence of labor of any swort, or sort, whatsoever,
RETURN! You will excsuse me, won’t you? There I knew you would. A wild lad, Master Edward, I sez to the Gaffer, I sez, but lor blesse zur its just hanimal sperrits, at art h’s a good lad, I sez. WELL. Enough of this lollygagging and skylarking Ferman. I am a WORKING WROTER and so to business. Although, mind ewe, with this Device it seems more like play. It hums and clicks and buzzes whilst I am congor even cog cog cog got it now? gooood. cogitating. very helpful to thought. Soothing. So. WHERE we was. Yus. BELINDA BEESWAX. Soonly. I haven’t forgotten that advance I got six years ago when my wife had the grout. Anxious to please.
(Tugs forelock. Exit, pursued by a
Your Seruant to Command,
I mean, of course, Mr. Ferman Sir. Or is it now Squire Ferman, with you off in the moors and crags of Cornwall Connecticut. Sounds very Jamaica Inn, Daphne Du Maurieresque. I can see you on wild and stormy nights, muffled to your purple ears in your cloak and shawl, going out on the rocky headlands with False Lights to decoy the Fall River Line vessels, or even the Late After-Theater Special of the New York, New Haven, and Hartburn, onto the Rocks. And the angry rocks they gored her sides/Like the horns of an angry bull. Zounds they don’t indite Poerty like that anymore. I mean,
I don’t have to tell you, ethn ethic pride, all very well,
thic? ethnic, there, THAT wasn’t hard, was it deary? Noooo. Now you can ahve a piece of treacle. Where was I. I mean, my grandfather was a was a, well, acttually, no, he WAS n ’t a Big Rabbi In The Old Country, he drove a laundry wagon in Yonkers, N.Y., but what Imeantosayis: “Over the rocks and the foaming brine/They burned the wreck of the
“—can ALAN GUINZBURG write poetry like that? No. Fair is fair.
Zippetty-ping. Kerriage Return. Automatic. Whheee! After all Ed I have known you a very long time, that time your old girl friend, the one you hired to read Manuscripts, you remember? Nuf sed. And I know you have only my own welfare at heart. Right? Right. So you wouldn’t be angry when I explain that Igot the idea, whilst triping on my new tripewriter, that if I carried out your nifty keen suggestions for the rewrite of my BELINDA BEESWAX story, that would drolly enough convert it into a Crime Story, as well as F and SF. Just for the fun of it, then, I couldn’t resist sharyimg or even sharing, my amusement at this droll conceit with Santiago
Ap Popkin, the editor over at QUENTIN QUEELEY’s MYSTERY MUSEUM. But evidentially I wasn’t as clear in my explanations as I should have been. Fingers just ran away with themselves, laughing and giggling over their shoulders (well, knuckles. be pedantic) , down the pike. ANYhow, Caligula Fitz-Bumpkin somehow misunderstood. He is
, I mean we must simply
these things, and Seneca Mac Zipnick is just NOT/very
. He, do you know what simpleton did? this will hand yez a real alugh, *Ed: Guy sent a check. Thought I was offering the story to
. Boob. A doltish fellowe, Constantine O’Kaplan. But, well, Ed, put yourself in my position. Could I embarass the boy? Bring a blush to those downy cheeks? Nohohohoho.
Well Ed it’s just one of those things that we have to face as we go through life: and the fact that QQMM happens to pay four or is it five times what F&SF pays, has got simply nothing to do with it. Avile canard, and that’s that. However, I have not forgotten that advance the time I was in Debtors Prison. And I will,
, promise you now NOW, I” 1 sit down at my merry chuckling Selectra Six-Ten, and write you a real sockadaol sok?dolager of a Science Fiction story. VISCIOUS TERRESTRIAL BIPED xxxxxxxxxxxxxxXXXXXXXXXXX ZZZZZZZzzzznnngfhfghhhBZZZ blurtle blep ha ha, well, perhaps not quite along
lines. Zo. So
Thine ever so
Well, you mehk me sheahme, mahn, the way you have forgiven me for that peculiar contretemps anent BELINDA BEESWAX’s going to the QUENTIN QUEELEY’s MYSTERY MUSEUM people instead. That yuck, Gerardo A
*or “laugh”, as some have it.—Ibid.
Klutskas. Anyway, I have really been sticking to my last, tappetty-tapp. “Tap”. ZW.W.W.W.EEPPP! Cling. It’s a veritable psychodrama of Semi-Outer Space. XXXXXXXXXnnnnnggggg llullrp prurp plup ZZZZBBGGGgnn INTELLIGENT NONCHITINOUS BIPED ATTEND ATTEND ATTEND ATTEND haha it’s always fun and games with this new Selectra Six-Ten, clicketty-cluch,
ble. Just you should drip by you the mouth, so enclosed is a couple pp of the first draft. draught. drocht Spell it can’t, not for sour owl stools, but leave us remember the circumstances under which it grew to maturity. More to be piddled than centered. You like, huh? Huh?
. Thass whut I thought. XXXxxZZZZzzzzxxxxngngngn clurkle cluhnkle NOCHITINOUS BIFRU BIFURCATE ATTEND ATTEND ATTEND.
Agreat line, hey? Arrests you with its like remorseless sweep, doesn’t it? Well well, back to the saline cavern
Love and kisses,
See, I knew you would enjoy LOADSTAR EXPRESS.
Even the first draft gripped you like
didn’t it? Yes. True, it was rather rough. Amorphous, as you might say. But I was going to take care of that anyway. Yesyes I had that rough spot, pp 3-to-4 well in mind.
I admit that I hsdn’t a hadn’t exactly planned to do it the way you tentatively suggest. But. Since you do. It would be as well that way as any other.
Blush, chuckle. Not exactly what one would formerly have considered for the pp of a family, or even a Family Magazine. Tempura o mores, what? However. WHY N T? XXXXXxxxx--ZZZZZzzzz bgbgbgbngngngn bluggabluggablugga TATATA TA TA AT ATT AT ATTEND ATTEND ATTEND TERRESTRIOUS BIFURCATE NONCHERIDERMATIC XXXNN FASCIST AGGRESSIVE BIPED goddam Must quit reading alla them student Undrground Wellhung Classified Revolt Papers. To work
“With fingers weary and worn, with eyelids heavy and red/ Awoman sat in unwomanly rags, mumbling a crust of bread. ’ ’ Can Laurence Ferlinghetti write lines like that? Can Richard Gumbeiner? It is to laugh. Anon, sir, anon. We Never Forget. Advances advanced to us in our hour od Need, earned eternal gratichude. clicketty-clunck.
WOW! WOW-WOW/WOWW’. !gotcha at alst)) Ignore. Confused by Joy. BUNNYBOY. BUNNYBOY, hippetty goddam
, B*U*N*N*N*Y*B*O*Y* M*A*G*A*Z*I*N*E*. You got that? Educational & Literary Compendium? With the big tzitzkas? Tha-hats the one.
Magazine has bumped a burse of bold, gumped a gurse of XXXXXXX xHa xHa xHa bgnbgn of gold, dumped a purse of gold in my lap. I kid y ou not.
NOT NOT. “Not.” He adumbrated hilarriously. EXPLOITIVE DIOXIDIFEROUS BIPEDS ah cummon now, cumMON. Shhest, I hardly know what to say, and this Selectra Six-Ten, elecrtified wit and terror, never but
a case of The DULL LINE LABOURS, AND THE WHEEL TURNS SLOW, goes faster than my MIND, my mind is BLOWN, out through both ears, walls all plastered with brain tissue.
Carriage return. When in doubt. Carstairs Macanley, formerly of
, to which I sold, years ago—but you don’t want to hear about that, anyway he is now and has been for some time past Fiction Editor of B
. So whilst making with the clicketty-clack and addressing the MS of LOADSTAR EXPRESS, I H happened to be thinking of him, and just for kicks, you know, Ed, I mean, YOU. Know
. Ed. Just abig, overgrown kid. So just for k.i.c.k.s., I absentmindedly addressed it to him. Laughed like a son of a gun’ when I found out what I’d done. And had already stamped the manila! “Well …” (I figured) “I’ll send it to good old Ed at F&SF soons as Carstairs Macanley returns it. Just to let him see what
’m doing these days.
Ed, you have never wished me nothing but good, Ed, from the very first day we met, Ed, and I know that the last thing on your pure, sweet mind, i would be that I return the money to Bunyboy, and, besides, I am almost 100% sure it’s already in type: and we could hardly expect them to yank it. You’re a pro yourself, Ed. But don’t think for aminute, Eddy, that I’ve got abig head and/or have forgotten that advance you so, well,
is really the only—And, Ed, any time you’re out on the West Coast, just any time at
, night or day, give me a ring, and we’ll go out for dinner somewhere. “A Hot bird and a cold bottle”, eh Ed? Hows that b grabg bgrarg XXXxx TREACHEROUS BgN BgN bGN TERCH XXXXXzzZZZ bgn bgn bgn TREACHEROUS AMBULATORY TERRESTRIAL AGGRESSIVE BIPED ATTEND ATTNEDNA Attn bgna bgn cluck.
Please excuse my high spirits, my head is just buzzing and clicking right now, Inever SAW such a C*E*C*K in my LIFELIFE in my life. Hey, Ed, I could offer to rewrite the story for
leaving out the parts you suggested, but I don’t think it would be right to deprive you of the pleasure of seiing them in print. Wait for the story. I”ll do you something else sometime.
Right now I’m going out and buy the biggest can of typewriter cleaning fluid anybody ever saw WE EXSALIVATE ON YOUR PROFFERED BRIBES EXPLOITIVE TERCHEOROSE TERRESTRIAL BIPED AGGRESSIVE NONCHERODERMATOID BIPED LANDING YOUR PLANETARY–RAPING PROBE MODULEWS ON THE SACRED CHITIN OF OUR MOTHER–WORLD FASCISTICLY TERMED “MOOM” XXXZZZZBGN BGN BGN BGN BGN BGN IGNORING OUR JUST LONG–REPRESSED PLEAS FOR YOUR ATTEND ATTE ND ATTEnD OHmigod
ed oh ed my god i i oh
bgna bgna bgna bgna bgna bgna bgna bgna bgna bgna
bpur bpur bpur bpur bpur bpur bpur bpur bpur BURP
When Grania Davis told me she was editing a comprehensive volume of Avram’s best stories, I made a case for including “Goslin Day.” For my money, this is one of Avram’s very best stories, a story that has been unfortunately overshadowed by the charming and more famous “The Golem.” Avram’s “The Golem” is more accessible, more mainstream, if you will, but “Goslin Day” is perhaps the best example of his stylistic brilliance. It’s a tour de force of stylistic pyrotechnics. It’s sheer poetry. And, like “The Golem,” it goes to the very root of Avram’s Orthodox Jewish concerns.