Davis, Scott C(ampbell) 1948-
DAVIS, Scott C(ampbell) 1948-
Born January 28, 1948, in Seattle, WA; son of Donald C. (an architect) and Marilyn (a writer; maiden name, Hudson) Davis; married Mary McConnel, June 30, 1979. Education: Stanford University, B.A. (English; social thought and institutions; with honors), 1970. Politics: "Progressive." Religion: Christian Scientist. Hobbies and other interests: "Rock climbing, mountaineering, foreign travel."
Home—Seattle, WA. Office—Cune Press, P.O. Box 31024, Seattle, WA 98103. Agent—Steven Schlesser, 2501 North Columbia Blvd., Portland, OR 97217.
Author, freelance writer, builder, and publisher. Bethlehem Center, Richmond, VA, social worker, 1971-73; Skid Road Community Council, housing planner, 1973-74; Kinesis Construction, Seattle, WA, president, 1979—. Northwest Review of Books, Seattle, WA, vice president, 1986-87; Cune Press, Seattle, WA, founder, 1994. Has worked as the United States correspondent for Ad-Domari (The Lamplighter) magazine, Damascus, Syria. Also founded Cune magazine and associated publications.
Arab-American Antidiscrimination Committee, Stanford Alpine Club.
Washington State Governor's Writers Award, 1989, for The World of Patience Gromes; King County Arts Commission Special Projects grant, 1994, for Lost Arrow and Other True Stories.
The World of Patience Gromes: Making and Unmaking a Black Community, University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 1988.
Lost Arrow and Other True Stories, Cune Press (Seattle, WA), 1995.
(Editor) An Ear to the Ground: Presenting Writers from Two Coasts, Cune Press (Seattle, WA), 1997.
The Road from Damascus: A Journey through Syria, Cune Press (Seattle, WA), 2003.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
Civil Society: Syrians Talk about Life in a Time of War, Tips for Writers, and Bent Nails, Twisted Minds: Life Lessons in Wood-Frame Construction.
Ranging from a freelance writer to a publisher and custome-home builder to mountain climber, Scott C. Davis has a wide array of interests and expertise. He has written short essays as well as book-length accounts about work and travel experiences, some of which have been published by his own company, Cune Press. Davis also publishes the online Cune magazine, which provides information to writers interested in grassroots publishing.
Davis's first book, The World of Patience Gromes: Making and Unmaking a Black Community, is a work of narrative nonfiction based on his experiences as a social worker in Richmond, Virginia, a post he filled as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Davis shows the decline of a black neighborhood that was born following the U.S. Civil War and saw its greatest prosperity in about 1930. According to the author, federally funded urban renewal disconnected the community from faith in a work ethic and home ownership. A Choice reviewer advised that the book is "difficult to categorize" and that Davis changed names and other details. In Kirkus Reviews a critic described the book as "long on emotion and short on argument," but an Antioch Review writer found the story to be "dramatically, presciently told."
The nonfiction tales in Lost Arrow and Other True Stories reflect many of Davis's other pursuits, and were described by Nick DiSpoldo in Small Press Review as possessing a "clean and lean" prose similar to the early work of Ernest Hemingway. Davis collects essays by others in An Ear to the Ground: Presenting Writers from Two Coasts, which finds its theme in "local truth" discovered at home and abroad. A Kirkus Reviews writer found the seventy-eight short essays "wildly uneven" but also deemed the book "an interesting and admirable endeavor."
In 1987, at a time when Syria was becoming known as a terrorist state, Davis embarked on a three-month trip that would be the foundation for The Road from Damascus: A Journey through Syria. Knowing only a few words of Arabic, he wanted to get to know the people of Syria; he also wanted to prove to himself that he was still young. What Davis quickly discovered was that it was dangerous to be a backpack-toting American in Syria: at one point he was confronted by secret police carrying assault rifles. He also met all kinds of people and learned about the complexity of Syrian culture, from its early Greek and Christian influences to the Arab and Turkish basis of contemporary Muslim life. Before finishing his book, Davis returned to Syria in 2001 to reunite with friends and found a more open, less frightening place.
Some reviewers found value in Davis's admitted naivety, but Times Literary Supplement critic A. J. Sherman responded that the author's "well-meaning meander" serves to show "what much of the rest of the world … finds objectionable in Americans: its author is uninformed, blundering and clueless when removed from his native habitat." A writer for Publishers Weekly, however, wrote that Davis is "refreshingly candid about his pre-1987 ignorance about the Arab world" and draws "a cultural portrait that is vivid, moving and wise." Well read in Syrian history, the author uncovers the complexity of Syrian culture, according to Rambles Online reviewer Carool Kersten. In a review for Al Jadid, Tom d'Evelyn commented that The Road from Damascus is "a gold mine of history and colorful snapshots of people and places." D'Evelyn concluded that the book is in fact "not so much an account of Scott Davis in Syria as an account of Scott Davis trying to write a book about himself in Syria," and commended the fact that it reveals important aspects of both American and Syrian culture.
Davis told CA: "In my first two major books, The World of Patience Gromes and The Road from Damascus, I picked a fertile and complex subject and dived in. Fifteen years later I emerged with a book. I'm hoping in the future to write book-length work that is more like my personal essay or true story "Lost Arrow," a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end that draws color and detail to it rather than emerging from a fertile, complex matrix. When I am writing, I work from four to six hours a day. If possible I work in the early mornings.
" The World of Patience Gromes: In my alternative service work as a conscientious objector, I got to see a small, old African American working-class community from the inside. I was impressed with the disciplined lives that the neighborhood's "first citizens" led. After reading a report for the Department of Labor by W. E. B. DuBois on Farmville in 1898, I realized that I was seeing classes of African Americans that had emerged after slavery. This led me to understand that the story of African American striving is one of the most compelling in American history, yet it has scarcely been told.
" The Road from Damascus: I traveled alone in Syria in 1987 in a time of special tension in the region. I was surprised to find that the representation of Syria in the U.S. media bore little relation to the reality. Halfway through my journey, in a truly awful night on the banks of the Euphrates River, I realized that my plans to fit Syria into an adventure-travel format were doomed. This country had better things to do. At this point I surrendered to the people and the culture, and my work became a way of giving them voice through my experience and writing."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Spectator, December, 1989, John Ehrlichman, review of The World of Patience Gromes: Making and Unmaking a Black Community, p. 29.
Antioch Review, winter, 1989, review of The World of Patience Gromes, p. 107.
Choice, December, 1988, D. W. Hoover, review of The World of Patience Gromes, pp. 699-700.
Kirkus Reviews May 15, 1988, review of The World of Patience Gromes, p. 737; August 1, 1997, review of An Ear to the Ground: Presenting Writers from Two Coasts, p. 1175.
Library Journal, January, 2002, Lee Arnold, review of The Road from Damascus: A Journey through Syria, p. 135.
Middle East, June, 2002, Fred Rhodes, review of The Road from Damascus, p. 40.
Publishers Weekly, November 12, 2001, review of The Road from Damascus, p. 52.
Small Press Review, April, 1996, Nick DiSpoldo, review of Lost Arrow and Other True Stories, p. 6.
Times Literary Supplement, February 14, 2003, A. J. Sherman, review of The Road from Damascus, p. 32.
Al Jadid Web site,http://aljadid.com/ (summer, 2001), Tom d'Evelyn, review of The Road from Damascus.
Rambles Online,http://rambles.net/ (March 23, 2002), Carool Kersten, review of The Road from Damascus.