THE NUTMEG POINT DISTRICT MAIL

the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter

Vol. II No. 2
31 July 1997
ISSN 1089-764X

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

Published bimonthly.
Contents copyright 1997 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned to individual contributors. All rights reserved.

TEMPORARY CULTURE
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DELVING INTO THE ARCHIVES

Your editor had occasion to visit San Francisco at the end of June and an unexpected and spontaneous side-benefit was the chance to visit Grania Davis and essay a survey of the boxed materials from the Estate of Avram Davidson. By my count, we managed to look through some seventeen boxes and one suitcase (only a fraction of the total Archive) during the afternoon. There was also time to examine title pages, etc. of various published works, both early and recent, and in due course the District Mail will include a corrected bibliographic update.

One of the finds of the day was a splendid Eszterhazy fragment (in a notebook opened at random -- "How random is random?" as el Maestro Wm. Burroughs comments) on the legal machinations of the Tram Company, juveniles in uniform, and Dr. Count Spasm's erotic interest in armpits as well as and sundry other topics. Although we did not examine in detail the boxes of books from Avram's library, amidst the papers were a number of books inscribed to Avram, such as John Crowley's first novel, The Deep. Among the documentary materials that turned up was Avram's "Visitor's Permit" for the first trip to Belize in December 1965 and January 1966 (chronicled in Dragons in the Trees), and various "mumblesheets" on writerly topics.

Two mumblesheets in particular refer to the composition of "Bumberboom" and "Basilisk" and the novel to be written from these stories. "Bumberboom" was a "cover story" written for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction to accompany an existing illustration of the sunken Statue of Liberty. The story appeared in the December 1966 issue, and reference to the statue is typically indirect, in truest Avram form. One mumblesheet also clarifies why the Bumberboom novel never appeared: the nearly complete manuscript was stolen from a parked car in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1973 and, being disinclined to rewrite the book, Avram prepared a short story collection for Doubleday instead (presumably The Redward Edward Papers, from the 1976 date of the last part of this mumblesheet).

For the enthusiast of the Vergil Magus cycle, the non-appearance of the "trinity of trilogies" mentioned in The Phoenix and the Mirror represents one of the sadder aspects of Avram's life. Only three novels were written (The Archive includes the typescript of The Scarlet Fig, which will form the subject of a future essay in the District Mail), but in his researches, Avram compiled a shelf of notebooks of densely typed pages that make up the Encyclopaedia of the world of Vergil, as well as a handwritten card catalogue of references th