Edgar Pangborn:Davy

I first read Edgar Pangborn because he was recommended by Spider Robinson. I admit right away to being a shameless Spiderfan, but of course that doesn't mean I'll like everything he does. Still, A Mirror For Observers and The Judgement of Eve were both fine books, and I expected Davy to be similarly satisfying. I was disappointed.

This is a post-holocaust novel, where the United States, at least, has deteriorated into a number of small, squabbing, religiously-repressed nations. Technology level is not high. Many of the names Pangborn uses--Vairmant, Katskill, Albany, Hampsher, the Hudson Sea--are recognizable as modern place names or corruptions of them. What annoyed me were the names like Moha, Skoar, Levannon, Nuin, Nuber, and the like, which, if they are also based on current names, I could not recognize. They drove me mad and distracted me trying to figure out what he could possibly be referring to.

The story was one of those written as if the main character were writing it...and this, I believe, is its major flaw, because Davy(the writer, of course)keeps taking time out from telling the story of his childhood to talk about his present time. I noted with some alarm as I proceeded through the book that Davy didn't seem to be getting any closer to his present storyline...and then the story just stops. Davy stops writing it, for personal reasons, and we haven't gotten to his present yet. After getting nibbles of it all the way through, you never get to hear the whole story--and, from the sounds of it, it was going to be much more interesting than what had happened before then.

It contains some memorable scenes--when Davy can stick to the story--but is uneven, gets rushed towards the end as Davy gets bored with the writing, and then stops utterly. Pangborn let Davy take too much control over the writing of the story, and Davy is not a reliable enough writer. I wouldn't buy any of his books, to be sure.

Considering its era, this book may have been daring for its ribald content and general frankness when it was published, but if so, that gives little merit today. I know Pangborn can do better, but with this book he didn't.

%A Pangborn, Edgar
%T Davy
%I Ballantine del Rey
%C New York
%D December 1964
%G ISBN 0-345-30702-X
%P 265 pp.
%O Paperback, US$3.50

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com