Tour: Sons and Daughters

li'l tom

On the tour for May 17 Angela Crider Neary introduced herself, specifically as the daughter of Texas writer Bill Crider, who gets mentioned here from time to time. Crider and I agreed that the John Carter of Mars movie was great, and I usually dip into his blog to keep up with obscure subjects — archaeology, who died, vast sprawling libraries and whatnot. I’m not quite as interested in alligators as Crider seems to be, but then who can ignore a nearby gator? With impunity, anyway. . . .

Also, Angela qualifies for the extensive list of Writers Who Have Walked the Walk with her recent book about cat detective Li’l Tom — also a San Francisco Mystery, for those of you into that collecting game. With Telegraph Hill, the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill, and other archly local features.

Angela describes it as a “cozy animal mystery,” which begs the question: Is it a mystery with cozy animals or a cozy mystery with animals?

(And that reminded me of a vaguely similar — birds are the heroes — book I read once, about lab pigeons in Berkeley undergoing smoking experiments, with Bogart movies constantly on the TV screen and a handler who reads The Maltese Falcon to them. Something like that. The pigeons escape and get to San Francisco, trying to work a Sam Spade vibe as they scour the gutters for ditched butts. Frisco Pigeon Mambo by C.D. Payne. I gave that one to Hammett’s daughter, pretty sure she’d like it, and she did. Said “it was cute.”)

And then partway through the tour a guy joined in while I was expounding on the history of pulp magazines. At the end he told me that his dad was a writer, too — Avram Davidson.

“I knew Avram!” I told Ethan Davidson.

More accurately, I met Avram, author of a few mysteries but mostly science fiction and fantasy. He was one of the writers I thought about profiling back when I was doing articles for Firsts: The Book Collectors Magazine. Pretty sure I have a complete collection of his first editions, up until recent years. Not for everyone, but if you read fantasy I’d plug as his two best books The Phoenix and the Mirror and The Enquiries of Dr. Eszterhazy.

I also really liked as a teenager the novel The Island Under the Earth, first book of a series, of which Davidson didn’t write any more. Which partly explains why he never took off, as many other writers of his era did. A crusty old guy. I’m glad I met him.

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