wonderful a pastoral post apocalyptic tale of growing up slowly by now, this formula has been used so many times that it probably doesn t sound remotely fresh but it was fresh to me when i first read it many years back, and re reading my favorite parts of it again tonight, the magic is still there this is not a novel of grand adventure but one of many small moments although it includes an oppressive, knowledge hating church in post apocalyptic fiction, aren t they always and an uprising in a city, the narrative and the novel itself is a fragile, melancholy thing, a thoughtful adventure recounted by a man gently remembering his past youth, the friends he made, the woman he loved, the places where he visited and lived, the politics that he perhaps barely understood this novel has much in common with A Canticle for Leibowitz, but for me the goofy, horny, not particularly bright, tender hearted youth at the center of the story sets it apart it is a sweet and very human tale. I m Davy, who was king for a time King of the Fools, and that calls for wisdom Post apocalyptic Huckleberry Finn A story about a boy growing up in America hundreds of years after a nuclear war I know the post apocalyptic theme has been done to death well almost , but this story by Edgar Pangborn 1909 1976 is a classic of this sub genre, published in 1964, to be compared with such books as A Canticle of Leibovitz by Walter Miller. Davy My favorite coming of age SF novel of all timeOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureDavy 1964 is a wonderfully written coming of age story set in a post apocalyptic Northeastern United States 400 years after a brief nuclear exchange destroyed high tech civilization, where life has become far like the frontier days of the early US, with a scattered group of city states dominated by the Holy Murcan Church Far from what you might expect, it is a tale filled with humor, wisdom, and charm It is the narrative voice of Davy as he grows up from a simple boy to a randy young man that captures the reader from the start His early days are dominated by wanting to escape from his bondsman life in between freeman and slave , his desire for the tavern owner s daughter, and his discovery of a golden horn in the possession of an innocent and ignorant mutant Taking this horn propels him on a series of adventures with deserters from a battle and he eventually joins an itinerant musician entertainer group called Rumley s Ramblers Along the way he finds romance and love and a father figure, all told is a style reminiscent of Mark Twain s Tom Sawyer or Salinger s Catcher in the Rye The only other SF books this reminded me in tone and setting were another lesser known classic, Ward Moore s Bring the Jubilee 1953 , which was an alternate history tale in which the South won the Civil War, and George R Stewart s Earth Abides 1949 , a pastoral post disaster story set in the Bay Area after a virus wipes out much of civilization The details of Davy s world are well described, and the pervasive and menacing grip of the Holy Murcan Church and religion on this rural and scattered society are believably depicted There is no question that Pangborn s Davy is skeptical of organized religion and it s role in crushing individual thought and dissent, especially in a world where literacy is rare and the Church controls the thoughts of the common people I found it a very refreshing contrast to that famous post apocalyptic tale, Walter M Miller s A Canticle for Leibowitz, which suggests that the Catholic Church would be a protector of knowledge and morality in a dark post nuclear world They are both well written books, and I wish that Davy could be read as much as Canticle.In terms of narrative voice, world building, characters, and sheer beauty of writing, I would gladly give Davy 5 stars, but I m forced to deduct 1 star simply because very little happens in his story Essentially only three of four major events happen in the novel, and other larger events are only referred to in passing or in hindsight Instead, Davy regales us with his thoughts on life, women, religion, and his world, which are very entertaining, but not much else I have a strong suspicion that this is why the novel didn t get a better reception although it was a Hugo Nominee for 1965 That, and naming a book Davy really doesn t tell you what it s about at all Don t let that dissuade you from reading it, though, it is a wonderful novel. Such a fantastic, beautiful, delicately imagined work It reminds me by turns of Mark Twain s Huckleberry Finn and Henry Fielding s Tom Jones Pangborn has the ability to get at the heart of his cast of misfits and make you care about them as much as he does not in spite of their flaws and foibles, but because of them The main character, Davy, tells us his own story, the story of an orphan in a post apocalyptic world where so much has changed, but so much is still the same as it ever was Davy ponders the most formative time of his life, recapturing his own pains and joys as he first discovered himself and the world around him He wistfully tells the story of his youth as he begins to ponder the challenges and turmoil of what comes next.A fine speculative writer, one can t help but wonder that Pangborn, a gay man, imagined and explored a world coping with a plague that attacks the very essence of us 15 years before the world first recognized and identified AIDS.I first read this book as a 14 year old, and later I would snap up every copy I found in used book stores to give away to friends I reread this book every few years, just to make sure it s shine is still there, and my love for the book grows deeper with each reading. Problematic, but not too shabby overall The narrative structure and timeline of the novel irritated me, as did the footnotes added by the other characters, which seemed way too cute and cloying of a device And the novel itself took me than halfway through to really get into, because the beginning is very overly detailed and slow In contrast, the last few chapters of the book feel like the author had all of a sudden realized that he had something way important that had to be done than completing this book The end is really just rushed through, with major events in the main character s life being covered extremely briefly However, even with all of those issues, I still enjoyed this book when all is said and done It also seemed to capture a quaint feeling of the incipient counterculture of the 1960 s that I enjoyed, which is, after all, when the novel was written. If you ve looked at my list, you know that my tastes run towards science or speculative fiction, in particularly the type that relies on character and philosophy than technology I haven t read Davy for many years, but it was one of the first I remembered to list I must have read it 20 times or it was that good.Davy is a post apocalyptic novel set in a world that has reverted to something like the middle ages, but there is nothing dreary or hopeless about this book The main character, guess , Davy, is a high spirited youth, with the temperment and intelligence of a post adolescent Huck Finn Escaping from his early life of servitude, he travels across a landscape of re established primordial forest, carrying little except a golden horn and his indomitable optimism.He encounters dangers and various fascinating characters along his way, each contributing to his education, both practical and spiritual His first act of freedom causes the death of the first to befriend him This weighs heavily upon his conscience, and is a lesson hard learned.I m a lot older now, so I m not sure how I d feel if I read it today, but Davy was for me one of those books I got totally lost in The character of Davy was so well fleshed that I forgot I was reading I was Davy, setting off on his own for the first time, and please forgive my paraphrase, I don t have the book in front of me , nothing ever drew me as powerfully as the road that lay ahead of me in the dark. The wit of Vonnegut meets the bawdiness of Farmer A lascivious Huck Finn Not that horrible, with humorous jabs at dogma and ignorance, but an idle tale Brackett did better with less, ten years earlier, but without the laughs. The reviews of Davy raised my expectations too high, perhaps Some reviewers claim that the book is as good as Huckleberry Finn or Walter Miller s A Canticle for Leibowitz, and although the book is good and admirable, it is not on par with those two great works.Certainly, Davy is an ambitious, praiseworthy novel I appreciate the book s structure, which interweaves two chronological narratives one describing events that took place in the past, when the narrator was entering adolescence, and one that describes recent events taking place as the middle aged narrator writes of his adolescence, complete with footnotes from his current middle aged companions I admire the narrator s changing voices he sounds believably like a postapocalyptic adolescent and, later, like a middle aged introspective man There s clever wordmangling that helps set the tone and reinforce the postapocalyptic worldbuilding, such as the remnants of current New England geographical terms in the postapocalyptic names Katskil, Vairmant, and Conicut, or the riff on demoralized on pages 216 217, which Davy renders as demarbleized, then demarvelized, and finally demongrelized And the characters that Davy meets on his journey are, for the most part, round and descriptively detailed.But the world that s built in this book feels like one that belongs in a magic less fantasy than in postapocalyptic science fiction like an early America ruled by a dominant and technophobic Church, with no special insight into what that means for the inhabitants The book s intended indictment of that technophobic Church isn t unique children die, ignorance abounds, and mudgrubbing is the order of the day.The plot is episodic and doesn t build toward anything in particular until the last fifty pages or so, when the two lines of narrative coalesce Yes, the boy learns lessons that that his grownup self comments on explicitly, but those comments like the indictment of the Church aren t particularly insightful.Maybe my complaints about lack of insight and, hence, my disappointment in the book is that I m an older woman The people I know who recommended the book to me are all older men who read it when they were young I can see how Davy would be most meaningful and titillating and memorable to a young man who s sorting out who he is and how best to rebel against authority.Or maybe it s that the book feels somewhat old fashioned its attack on the Church and politics is relatively gentle, restrained, moderate rather simple, as if merely complaining about the Church and politics is extraordinary and shocking and, thus, sufficiently observant And the sex is tame by current standards bawdy reviewers call it, an appropriately old fashioned word.I wouldn t complain much about the foregoing if I had been caught up in Davy s emotions But I wasn t caught, not as I am caught by Huck Finn s life and emotions I sat back and engaged dutifully with Pangborn s intellectual exercise, but the book didn t carry me away.And even the intellectual exercise was somewhat disappointing again, perhaps because of the expectations created by the reviews The book lacks the deeply complex layering of myth and Church that exists in A Canticle for Leibowitz And it lacks the what happened piecing together of clues embedded in deteriorated language that I enjoy in Russell Hoban s Riddley Walker a book I d compare it to before I compared it to Miller s Canticle.So, in sum, I am glad that I read Davy, because now I can check it off my list of Significant Books That It s Good to Know About But reading it felt like duty, not like joy. Davy Is Set In The Far Future Of Our World, In The Fourth Century After The Collapse Of What We Describe As The Twentieth Century Civilisation In A Land Turned Upside Down And Backwards By The Results Of Scientific Unwisdom, Davy And His Fellow Ramblers Are Carefree Outcasts, Whose Bawdy, Joyous Adventures Among The Dead Ashes Of Old Time Culture Make A Novel Which Has Been Hailed As A Frightening, Ribald, Poignant Look At The Imaginary Future, As This Chilling And Fascinating Book, As Superb Entertainment Unique, As So Unusual As The Make It Both Refreshing And Thought Provoking This is the fortieth anniversary edition of an old favorite I didn t read the original, but one edtion published probably in the early eighties.It s a post apocalyptic novel set some 250 years after a nuclear war.Davy is the protagonist, writing a book from his advanced years of twenty nine, discussing his life Raised in an orphanage, not really an orphan but taken from his prostitute mother so she wouldn t pollute him by the Holy Murcan Church , he was bonded out at nine to a tavern owner An incident at fourteen sends him on the run and it becomes a coming of age story in a repressive society controlled by this bastardized version of a religion in this future world.It was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula and was voted one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time.
Edgar Pangborn was an American mystery, historical, and science fiction author.He published also under the pen name of
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- Edgar Pangborn
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