RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir involving US chattel slavery

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 26 May 2008

Just read this as I have been offline for a few days. I too am a little puzzled as to why Avram Davidson's CRIMES AND CHAOS has remained out of print when other works by him have been published. I would guess that the mainstream publishers did not see enough sales of the St. Martin collections to justify going deeper into his backlist. The small publishers are typically oriented toward specific genres. CRIMES AND CHAOS being true crime would not fit the list of the SF, fantasy or mystery small press publishers.

I was interested in your statement that THE ENQUIRIES OF DOCTOR ESTERHAZY is Davidson's magnum opus and that MASTERS OF THE MAZE was his most successful novel. I agree with the opinion on the Esterhazy series, wonderfully textured stories, but I thought mine was a minority viewpoint. As to the novel MASTERS OF THE MAZE, I read it when it was a new paperback from Pryamid more than forty years ago and felt it captured an alien viewpoint or strangeness as well as anything I had ever read. I seem to recall that critics of the time felt it began quite well but lost steam by the last half. It is a novel I need to reread.

I don't keep up with current critical opinion very well these days but three decades ago, I think the nominees for best Davidson would have been THE PHOENIX AND THE MIRROR. It was a fine novel but I prefer Esterhazy and Maze. I have yet to read THE SCARLET FIG (how's that for a unmarketable title), the last of the Vergil Magus novels.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "foxbrick" <foxbrick@...> wrote:

> "The Necessity of His Condition" was most recently in THE AVRAM
> DAVIDSON TREASURY, edited by Grania Davidson, and the excellent
> posthumous collection of his crime fiction is THE INVESTIGATIONS OF
> AVRAM DAVIDSON edited by Davis and Richard Lupoff, a title which
> echoes by intention that of perhaps Davidson's magnum opus, THE
> ENQUIRIES OF DOCTOR ESTERHAZY, which will reward any reader of
> fiction who also appreciates the fantastic and the baroque...an
> expanded editiion, THE ADVENTURES OF DOCTOR ESTERHAZY, is in print.
> At the current remove, it seems very clear that EQMM's Fred Dannay
> liked to encourage crime fiction that spoke up for civil rights and
> against bigotry whenever possible.
> Davidson's most completely successful novel, MASTERS OF THE MAZE,
> draws on his experience as a responsible writer of historical crime
> articles for Men's Sweat and true crime magazines; his protagonist
> is one of the more typical irresponsible contributors. Algis Budrys
> noted that Davidson's meticulous research, including interviews and
> site investigation, caused much eye-rolling among those who wrote
> bad fiction to be presented as fact, all published under variations
> of the title (as Harry Harrison put it once, iirc) "Love Starved
> Arabs Raped Me Often." At least one major anthology of those "true
> men's adventure" stories and covers has been published recently
> bits of them are all over the web, of course), but no one's
> to put CRIMES AND CHAOS back into print...perhaps Grania Davis or
> Henry Wessells will manage that eventually.

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