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Contents copyright 1996 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned
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FOOD IN THE WRITINGS OF AVRAM DAVIDSON :
ECO-HORROR, ARCHAEOZOOGASTRONOMY, AND (OF COURSE) SEX
"Full Chicken Richness" and "The Odd Old Bird" are two of Avram's funniest
stories from the 1980s; with mordant humor, they link his interests in
rare avian fauna (see also "Bird Thou Wert, But Art No More" in
Adventures in Unhistory, or "The Great Globe", an unpublished episode
in the Vergil Magus cycle) with an interest in food that occurs as a constant
throughout his work. Some other stories that include notable discursions upon
food are ("Something Rich and Strange," "Limekiller at Large," the wee folk
section of "Peregrine Secundus," and "Business Must Be Picking Up").
Set in what appears to be a recognizable America, "Full Chicken Richness"
recounts the adventures of Fred Hoskins, painter of "old buildings" and
habitue of La Bunne Burger (his career is a clear indication that the quixotic
has not yet been entirely extinguished in this America). It is at
this eating place that Fred encounters the well-informed Abelardo who delivers
"something" to Rudolfo, the proprietor of La Bunne Burger. Consider one
of Abelardo's comments, "Advertisage is like courtship, always involve
some measure of deceit." As Rudolfo says, discussing FULL CHICKEN
RICHNESS Chicken-Type Soup with Fred, "Abelardo, he is no
businessman. He is a filosofo. His mind is always in the skies. I tell him,
I could use more soup--twice, maybe even th ree times as many cans. 'Ai!
Supply and demand!' he says. Then he tells me about the old Dutch explorers."
When Fred tracks down Abelardo's house, he find Abelardo stewed, driven
to drink by "the eternally perplexing matter of supply and demand."
Only Avram could have written this science fiction story, integrating
as it does reflections upon real estate development, nostalgia, Latin American
eccentrics, and diner food with advertising, solitary inventors, the law
of supply and demand, and t he extinct avian fauna of Mauritius. "It approached
the screen, it brushed the screen, there was a Rube Goldberg series of
motions in the external equipment, a sheet of chicken wire slid noisily
down to the floor. The bird had been trapped." This is hard science fiction--not
re-invent the wheel pseudo-tech stuff, but hard ideas science fiction.
And has any other author ever called the workings of the time machine
(or whatever strange apparatus the plot might demand) by the true name
like this? Perhaps Robert Sheckley on a good day way back when. . . .
All of the Eszterhazy stories display an interest in gastronomical pleasures
of different types. "The Odd Old Bird" takes the reader t