F&SF was his first editing job, but he took to it effortlessly, and his story introductions were a marvel. Avram moved to Mexico during his final year as an editor and handled this long-distance affair with calm and efficiency, despite the fact that these were days before faxes and FedEx; in fact there was only one phone in the small town where he lived. I don't recall any missed deadlines, though he once claimed that a missing manuscript was eaten by an iguana.
His first story, "My Boy Friend's Name is Jello," appeared in F&SF in 1954, and although he write several novels (including Rogue Dragon and The Phoenix and The Mirror), his career was notable for its wonderful and distinctive short fiction, most of it published here and later collected in Or All the Seas With Oysters (1962) and What Strange Stars and Skies (1965).
In "An Approach to Style," E.B. White wrote: "The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Let him start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and he is as good as dead, though he may make a nice living."
Avram probably carried this virtue to an extreme. He never made a nice living. But he found an appreciative, if small audience, and of one thing there was never any doubt: he was a true writer.
From the September 1993 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Reprinted with permission
Return to the table of contents page