THE NUTMEG POINT DISTRICT MAIL

the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter


Vol. XX No. 1


12 December 2021

ISSN 1089-764X

Published irregularly by whim and fancy (approximately annually)
by Temporary Culture for the Avram Davidson Society.
Contents copyright 2021 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned
to individual contributors. All rights reserved.

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

All correspondence to:
TEMPORARY CULTURE
Post Office Box 43072, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072
Electronym: wessells@aol.com

Use this electronym for requests to be added to or dropped from the
mailing list. Back issues are archived at the Avram Davidson Website,
URL : http://www.avramdavidson.org


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JUST PUBLISHED : BEER! BEER ! BEER!

— Avram Davidson. Beer! Beer! Beer! [Novato, California : Or All the Seas with Oysters
Publishing, 2021]. [xiv], 218 pp. Pictorial wrappers with a cover drawing by Avi Katz.
https://avramdavidson.com/avram-davidson-beer-beer-beer/


Beer! Beer! Beer! is the first printed book by Avram Davidson to be issued by Seth Davis
and Or All the Seas with Oysters Publishing: last year he began commissioning audio
versions of Davidson's works and producing the monthly series of interview podcasts, The
Avram Davidson Universe.
Beer! is a tale of the intrusion of bootlegging into the Hudson river town of Yokums, New
Jersey, a looking glass idealization of Yonkers, where Avram was born and where,
incidentally, gangster and prince of bootleggers Dutch Schultz was based. If you want a
brisk account of the facts, you may read "Beer Like Water" in Crimes and Chaos (1962) [see The
Voice of Avram, below]. Beer! gives a broad cross section of daily life in the riverside town
during the late phase of Prohibition, with some recognizable Davidsonian types:
newspaperman Bill Bomberg has something of the questing energy of Bob Rosen in "The
Sources of the Nile", and Captain Clack of the packet boat Sadie Howell is stamped from
several Avramish patterns. Beer! includes a wealth of digression — on Dutch settlements in
the Hudson, newspaper publishing, and a catalogue of urban life in Depression America
through the eyes of a young boy — and numerous interesting minor characters (always one of
the charms of Davidson's work). The corruption generated by the beer trade pervades the
town, and the narrative ambles from City Hall to the office of the Fourth Ward
Glagolitic-Slovatchko-Ukrainian Improvement Association, from the sewers to the packet
boat wharf on the Hudson waterfront, and from to the National Cereal Company to the
mansions along Upper Bluffs Avenue. There are some fine comic moments and the book
progresses to a choreographed and convulsive ending.
It is, however, in looking at the principal clues to the dating of the manuscript that the
real significance of this book emerges. Among the town's principal ethnic minorities are
the "Slovatchkos, whose homeland, sundered by the break-up of the
Scythian-Pannonian-Transbalkanian Empire, was now divided between two other — and larger —
nations" (32). This allusion to the setting of The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy (1975)
clearly situates the composition of the manuscript in the late 1970s and points to one of
the great themes of Davidson's work, immigrant life in America (and what Michael Swanwick
has identified as "the loss of ethnicity").

The source of this previously unpublished novel is a typescript of some 240 pages, known
variously as Beer . . . That Makes You Want to Cheer or The Day Beer Flowed like Water (one
copy of this typescript is preserved in the Avram Davidson Collection at Texas A&M
University). Beer! Beer! Beer! is Davidson’s preferred title and comes from his
correspondence. The text is manifestly an early or even first draft manuscript, presented
here with a very light edit and not altering the invented phonetics with which Davidson
sought to capture the hard, distinctive Yonkers accent of his childhood. As with the use
of selective profanity to create a heightened reality rather than the bludgeoning
repetition of real life, it is a question of balance. Davidson would later write in "El
Vilvoy de las Islas", "In the opinion of some people (in fact, lots), a little of such
style goes a long way." And at the same time he ensured that "some more of the original
from time to time seeps through." This is a print on demand book (your correspondent saw
an uncorrected proof printed in Columbia, South Carolina, on 2 November 2021).

Beer! stands between Davidson's miniature, "The Last Wizard" (published in Ellery Queen's
Mystery Mystery Magazine for December 1972), and his long masterpiece "The Slovo Stove"
(1985), and one can trace turns of phrase from Beer! to later works. A passage in Beer!
where Bill Bomberg reminiscences about his love life (177) is a trial run for a key
incident when Jack Limekiller discovers evidence of Bathsheba’s inconstancy in "There
beneath the Silky-Trees and Whelmed in Deeper Gulphs Than Me" (published in 1980). By
that time Davidson must have understood that Beer! was going nowhere, and so he reused a
good phrase to greater effect. Yokums has something of the feel the town of Parlour’s
Ferry in "The Slovo Stove", a story with none of the rosy nostalgia or Depression-era
clichés of Beer! The effect is not unlike reading one of the "mainstream" novels Phil Dick
wrote in the 1950s in the vain hope of leaving the science fiction treadmill of the
paperback original market (think Confessions of a Crap Artist and its parallels to Time
out of Joint, for example). Davidson had attempted to do this himself in the 1960s, with
Dragons in the Trees, a non-fiction account of his travels in British Honduras, material
he would later transmute into the Limekiller stories. Aspects of life in Yonkers rose up
again while Davidson composed his zigzag plotted Adventures in Autobiography in the 1990s.
In addition to the many pleasures of the story, Davidson's Beer! is notable as an
intermediate station on the road to "The Slovo Stove".

[HWW]


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THE VOICE OF AVRAM DAVIDSON ; OR, LISTENING TO THE UNIVERSE

Seth Davis, younger son of Grania Davis, godson of Avram Davidson, and the proprietor of
the Estate of Avram Davidson, has been busy this past year: reading Davidson's works,
producing a line of audiobooks, including The Adventures of Doctor Eszterhazy read by
Robert Blumenfeld (https://avramdavidson.com/product-category/audio/), a website with
multimedia components — including The Price (1989) a short film based on "And Don't Forget
the One Red Rose" https://youtu.be/XypxEkytmO0 — and orchestrating The Avram Davidson
Universe, a wonderful monthly podcast of dramatic readings of Davidson stories and
interviews with writers (and readers his work). It was a pleasure to participate in an
early episode, and to talk with Seth about a fine story. It's great that Seth has recorded
interviews with people who knew Avram, and the roster of guests is an impressive tribute
to an enduring interest in Davidson in the science fiction community.

One of the real unexpected delights of the series for me was the first episode of the
second season of the podcast, which features an interview with Dan Murphy, editor of the
Yonkers Times, and a recording of Avram reading "Beer Like Water", an essay on Dutch
Shultz and Prohibition-era Yonkers published in Crimes and Chaos (1962). Since I never met
Davidson, it was a joy to hear a recording of his voice.

All of the episodes reward the listener. Here is a complete list of episodes (and guests)
to date: all are available at https://avramdavidsonuniverse.buzzsprout.com


The Avram Davidson Universe

Seth Davis

1.1 Ethan Davidson & "Or All the Seas With Oysters". 9 September 2020
1.2: Eileen Gunn & "The Affair at Lahore Cantonment". 7 October 2020
1.3 Henry Wessells & "O Brave Old World!". 1 November 2020
1.4: Michael Swanwick & "My Boy Friend's Name Is Jello". 4 December 2020
Happy Birthday Philip K. Dick. 16 December 2020
1.4.5: Ethan Davidson & "Addrict". 20 December 2020
1.5 Jack Dann & "Goslin Day". 11 January 2021
1.6: Alan Dean Foster & "Help! I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper". 1 February 2021
1.7: Gregory Benford & "Now Let Us Sleep". 1 March 2021
1.8: Scott Bradfield & "Dragon Skin Drum". 1 April 2021
1.9: Michael Kurland & "The Montavarde Camera". 1 May 2021
1.10: Melissa Rogers & "What Strange Stars and Skies". 1 June 2021
1.11: Susan Emshwiller & "The Woman Who Thought She Could Read". 1 July 2021
1.11.1: A Godson's Favorite. "Skinny". 23 July 2021
1.12: Alexander James & "Full Chicken Richness". 1 August 2021
1.12.1: A Godson's Favorite. "The Lord of Central Park ". 14August 2021
1.12.2: A Godson's Favorite. "The Bounty Hunter" with Avram's students from William & Mary 20 August 2021
2.1: Dan Murphy & "Beer Like Water". 1 September 2021
2.2: John Kessel & "Faed-Out". 1 October 2021
2.3: Robert Lopresti & "The Necessity of His Condition". 1 November 2021
2.4: Ted White & "Or the Grasses Grow". 1 December 2021


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THE DIGRESSIONS OF AVRAM DAVIDSON :
AVRAM DAVIDSON IN THE FANZINES

For the past several years, Matthew Davis has been sending me progress reports on his
efforts to identify contributions by Avram Davidson in science fiction fanzines and APA
mailings. This has been a most welcome thing: it is an important task, and one which I had
never attempted, so his information makes welcome a supplement to existing bibliographical
checklists on the Avram Davidson website. The chronological listing appears in the article
following. Matthew has written an introduction to his private compilation in progress,
which I am delighted to publish with cordial thanks :


The Digressions of Avram Davidson:

A.D. (1959 - 1965) in the Fanzines (mostly)

Editor's Note as Cargo Cult Practice


I choose the title "Digressions", not merely because Avram Davidson's letters digress
with all the force he could bring to bear, but because, as he makes clear on numerous
occasions, he is also wilfully diverting himself from the professional work he ought to be
undertaking. Yet, sixty years on, there is little rust on this "whim of iron". Wrapped in
the ornament of his unique, idiosyncratic style, there is erudition, whimsy, gaiety, wit,
persiflage, and sprezzatura verbal fantasy. He offers his audience frivolity, personal
news, comments on his work, and occasional moral censure. These are writings intended for
his public, and since previously published, there need be no editorial moral qualms about
confidences betrayed. This is Avram Davidson performing in correspondence for an
appreciative audience. As this is a collection of the "public" Avram Davidson I have
included a few letters that appeared in mainstream publications during this period. There
also appear two short pieces from his editorship of F&SF as they relate to matters
discussed in his fanzine writings.

Reading through the letters collected here, several ironic autobiographical narratives
can be traced. It commences with Davidson pronouncing a farewell to writing SF, only for
him to become the Hugo-winning editor of F&SF. His denunciation of fanzine writing
inadvertently elicits torrents of fanzines hoping to correct his opinion. His ipsissimus
responses receive acclamation resulting in his becoming an adornment of the fanzine
letters pages, voted Best New Fan in the 1962 FANAC poll, and ultimately the publisher of
his own fanzine homunculus. Declaring his side in the Breendoggle controversy that split
fandom brings an end to most of his fanzine contributions, as other fans also gafiated. He
will relate his acquiring of a wife, Grania, and a child, Ethan, the leaving of New York,
and the beginning of his sojourn in Mexico, but his fanzine correspondence period finally
concludes at the end of 1965, having separated from Grania, when he takes his first trip
to Belize.

Two lengthy letters from the early 1970s sharing his experiences of The Phoenix and the
Mirror, his frustrations with the publisher and its reception, have been included as an
appendix.

A longer book could include Davidson's earlier correspondence (approx. 1948 – 1954) in
assorted Jewish newspapers, though possibly they merit a chapbook of their own. It must be
said they are the communications of a much younger man intent on proving his orthodoxy,
and at times religious observance borders with heavy shading on righteous judgement.
Compared to the papers collected herein, writerly and readerly pleasure are rather rarer.
However, just as contrast, I have included one.

I decided to resist imposing a particular house style on the letters. Different
fanzines imposed different styles and trying to unpick them into uniformity seemed
futility. Furthermore, these are Avram Davidson's letters at second-hand. Earlier fanzine
editor-publishers have already had to wrestle with presenting his peculiar abbreviations,
syntax, emphases, typography, and non-standard characters. So I can only offer
transcriptions of transcriptions. One is left to distinguish Davidson's deliberate
misspellings for humorous and stylistic effect from his unintentional misspellings besides
the typos that arose in producing the original fanzines.

— Matthew Davis


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CHECKLIST OF THE FANZINE PUBLICATIONS OF AVRAM DAVIDSON

Compiled by Matthew Davis

Entries are given in chronological order ,with fanzine or periodical title, date, and
title or brief summary of content. A few items known items have not been traced and are
marked "Not seen"

[What does not emerge from this checklist is that homunculus 1, a fanzine
published by Avram Davidson and Grania Davis was followed by
homunculus 3, the next printed issue, which bears the note that
"homunculus #2 was published at Woman’s Hospital, NYC, on Nov. 26, /62,
and is also known as Ethan Michael Anders Davidson. This (and we won't
repeat it again, you clods, except maybe another couple times) is #3." This
checklist is a major contribution to the bibliography of Avram Davidson, and
is here published with gratitude and pleasure. — Ed.]


PITFCS = Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies

PITFCS 129. May 1959. Symposium contribution
PITFCS 131. August 1959. Speech
PITFCS 133. February 1960. Letter
Who Killed Science Fiction. April 1960. Symposium contribution
PITFCS 134. March 1960. Letter
Amra 10. April 1960. Letter
PITFCS 136. June 1960. Bombachos, Bigotes, and Bustos
SaFari Annual 6. July 1960. Letter
Pittcon. 2-5 September 1960. Exit Orcs. Speech
PITFCS 138. December 1960. Letter
Parsection 3. December 1960. Letter
Playboy. January 1961. Letter
New York Daily News. 15 January 1961. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 148. March 1961. Letter
Village Voice. 23 March 1961. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 149. April 1961. The Case of the Doped-Up Doctor
Cry of the Nameless 149. April 1961. Letter
PITFCS 139. March 1961. Letter
Yandro 99. April 1961. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 150. May 61. Letter
Yandro 100. May 61. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 151. June 61. Letter
Xero 5. July 1961. Letter
Discord 13. July 1961. Letter
Amra July 1961. Letter
Village Voice. 6 July 1961. Letter
Playboy. August 1961. Letter
Yandro 103. August 1961. Letter. Not seen
Xero 6. September 1961. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 153. October 1961. Letter
Yandro 105. October 1961. Letter
VOID 27. October 1961. Book Review of Vonnegut’s Canary in a Cat House
G2 5. October 1961. Letter
Vorpal Glass 3. December 1961. Letter
PITFCS 141. November 1961. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 154. November 1961. Letter
Xero 7. November 1961. Letter
Yandro 106. November 1961. Letter
Discord 15. November 1961. Letter
NeoLithic 20. December 1961. Letter
FANTASMAGORIQUE 3. 1961. Not seen.
Cry of the Nameless 155. December 1961. Letter
Mirage 4. Late 61. Letter
Bane 6. 61. Letter
Hyphen 30. December 1961. Letter
Viper 4. December 1961. Letter
Playboy. December 1961. Letter
Amra 18. December 1961. Lines Written By, or To, or For, or Maybe Against, That
Ignoble Old Viking . . .
Yandro 107. December 1961. Letter
Warhoon 14. January 1962. Letter
Yandro 108. January 1962. Letter
Xero 8. 1962. Letter
PITFCS 142. February 1962. Letter
Lighthouse 5. February 1962. Letter
VOID 28. February 1962. Avram Davidson Answers Your Questions
Null-F 25. February 1962. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 158. March 1962. Avram Davidson Tries Old (18) Excuse. Letter
Bastion 3. Spring 1962. Letter
VOID 39. June 1962. Avram Davidson Answers Your Letters
Bismi’llah 7. April 1962. What It Was, It Was Agglutinative
Bismi’llah 7. April 1962. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 158. June 1962. Letter
HKLPLOD 3. 1962. Verse. Not seen
homunculus 1. Autumn 1962. Fanzine
Cry of the Nameless 164. November 1962. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 166. February 1963. Letter
PITFCS 143. December 1962. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 166. February 1963. Son of Cry of The Readers. Letter
F&SF. March 1963. Editorial
Yandro 121. February 1963. Letter
OMTAE 8. March 63. Avram, Will Travel
Cry of the Nameless 168. June 1963. Letter
Double-Bill 9. June 1964. Symposium contribution
homunculus 3. summer 1963. Fanzine
Jesus Bug 9. September 1963. Not seen
Double-Bill 8. January 1964. Letter
Minac 11. January 1964. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 172. February 1964. Letter
Popacepetl y Ixtaccihuatl. 1964. Fanzine
FAPA 107 MAILING. SPRING 1964. Not seen
Minac 14. April 1964. Letter
Cry of the Nameless 174. June 1964. Letter
Jesus Bug 12. August 1964. Lines Written on the Subway Going to a Hail and Farewell
Fanoclast party
Focal Point 2. January 1965. Letter
Jesus Bug 12 ½. November 1964. A Song of Degrees
Jesus Bug 13. January 1965. Aphrodite and the Archbishop. Not seen
Lighthouse 12. February 1965. Letter
Focal Point. March 1965. Letter
Niekas 12. June 1965. My Neighbor, Hannes Bok
F&SF. August 1964. Hannes Bok, Memorial
Lighthouse 13. August 1965
Algol 17. November 1971. Letter (The Phoenix and the Mirror)
Energumen 5. February 1971. Letter (The Phoenix and the Mirror)


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PUBLICATIONS OF THE AVRAM DAVIDSON SOCIETY

Still available from Temporary Culture

https://temporary-culture.com/book-category/publisher/the-nutmeg-point-district-mail/

Chance Meeting
Avram Davidson & Philip K. Dick.
Published by The Nutmeg Point District Mail for the Avram Davidson
Society, 9 July 2019.
Edition of 150 unnumbered copies, stitched in Hahnemühle wrappers
with letterpress label. 6 x 9 inches, 16 pp.
Price : $20.00 (postage paid in U.S. ; elsewhere add $5.00).
Trade discount available.

Chance Meeting prints two uncollected pieces by Avram Davidson on
Philip K. Dick: Davidson's perceptive review of The Man in the High
Castle from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for June 1963
and his memoir of PKD from Locus 256, vol. 15, no. 5, for May 1982.
The publication also includes a letter from Grania Davis from the same
issue of Locus; with a short essay by Henry Wessells assembling
biographical and bibliographical information.


The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead, an Adventure in Unhistory
With a Preface by Eileen Gunn.
Published by The Nutmeg Point District Mail for the Avram Davidson
Society, 8 May 2013.
Edition of 200 copies, perfect bound in heavy card covers, french flaps.
6 x 9 inches, viii + 40 pp. Inserted errata leaf.
Payment by cheque or money order in U.S. funds, or by credit card or paypal.
Price : $25.00 (postage paid in U.S. ; elsewhere add $10.00) ; £20
postpaid to U.K. (cash only).
Trade discount available.

Michael Swanwick on The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead:
"a voyage through the mind of a brilliant autodidact, a man who engaged in
esoteric research not for profit or academic survival but simply for the fun of
it. Those who can enjoy such company on a journey with no obvious direction or
destination know who they are. [. . .] I witnessed a reader reach the end of
this essay and burst into delighted laughter."

The following titles are out of print:
The Beasts of the Elysian Fields by Conrad Amber (2001)
El Vilvoy de las Islas (2000)
The Last Wizard with A Letter of Explanation (1999)


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