Why I Like Avram Davidson's Novels & Stories ; with comments on selected stories
Henry Wessells

     These paragraphs do not comprise a well-ordered critical essay about Avram Davidson's work. They are an attempt to express some of my enthusiasm and delight. In late 1992 I first read a battered but intact copy of The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy paperback. I was surprised, again and again. The rambling sentences and digressions impressed me, but most of all it was the way in which Avram integrates obscure and bizarre knowledge into these stories: knowledge that in anyone else's hands would be dusty and uninteresting or an info-dump (technique invented, perhaps, by Jules Verne) that strangled or squashed the flow of language. I went to all the right schools and have read lots of books, but Avram was genuinely learned, as even a single sentence taken at random will reveal. There is a healthy measure of irreverence to temper this erudition, so that one is not oppressed by the weight of information.
     I do not count myself among the ranks of the academicians. This website is a portmanteau, Humpty Dumpty piece of scholarship, one writer's response to another writer's work, full of quirks and deviations from the straight furrows of traditional academic scholarship. Avram Davidson's writings contain and call for a good measure of delirium: not incoherence or ignorance, but the inspired capacity to follow an idea, a phrase or a cadence in a new direction, to take a point a little bit further than its simply logical conclusion. His work at its best (the Vergil and Peregrine books, the Limekiller and Esterhazy stories) is incredibly fresh and rich, each sentence resonant with suggestions of the complexity and concreteness of the worlds described.
     I am unsuited to write an extended critical evaluation of Avram's work as it should be written. For me, to read Avram's work is to understand how little I have read and how little remembered. Anyone can salt a text with brilliant references, but it is the throwaway references and ghosts of allusions rippling casually and untrumpeted throughout Avram's work that demonstrate his vast reading.
     This said, I have nonetheless made a beginning.


Shadows.Ed. Charles L. Grant. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1978.
World Fantasy Award Winner

Laundry Lines and Random Walks

     Poverty is the principal character of this tale of Avram's -- poverty and a concept of the city of Naples that will never be found in Thomas Cook, Baedeker or Michelin guides. While a thorough guidebook might even note in passing the concentration of back-alley pasta-shops in poor quarters, the aim would clearly be to caution the tourist against ill-advised gastronomic adventures.
     I remember a book from my teenage years in Brittany, the Guide noire de la Bretagne. It was filled with tales of ill-fated demoiselles buried under oak trees by spurned lovers or furious brothers (including where to locate said oak trees on the grounds of certain c