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3.7  ·  Rating details ·  468 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
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 be ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 265 pages
Published October 1990 by Collier Nucleus / Macmillan (first published 1964)
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Dan Schwent
Apr 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Dan by: mark monday
Shelves: sf, 2011
While sailing a trackless sea aboard a ship called the Morning Star, a scoundrel named Davy writes a book detailing his life and times in a post-apocalyptic America.

Things I liked about Davy:
First and foremost, the writing style of Davy was what sucked me in and kept me interested. Pangborn employs a style that makes me feel like I'm sitting down and listening to him talk. Davy's a character, that's for sure, both as a teen and as an adult. As I've mentioned in the past, I like my protagonists t
mark monday
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Davy: My favorite coming-of-age SF novel of all time
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Davy (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 more 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 ch
Mark Davis
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 more is still the same as it ever wa ...more
Feb 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you've looked at my list, you know that my tastes run towards science (or speculative) fiction, in particularly the type that relies more 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 more; 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 charac
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: I honestly don't know
Recommended to Erin by: Found citation of a review of Crowley's short stories
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 more 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 more important that had to be done tha ...more
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Post-post-apocalyptic: 300 years ahead, the known world has lost much technology, is controlled by a facist church, and runs on a feudal economy. The language is challenging, since it's written as a faux autobiography of a former bond slave named Davy. I wish there was more to it, but it exists as a remnant of some possible future history. Good book to read with Octavia Butler's Parables duet. Can someone who's read the book explain to me what a loin rag is?
Dec 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: top-200-scifi
A story about a 14 year old boy growing up in a post-apocalyptic time. Surprisingly better than I thought it would be. Davy is exposed to some horrible situations and commits a few terrible crimes without remorse. The storyline is all over the place and the language is a bit hard to read at times. It seems to me the music/instrument is a minor thread in the book. Fortunately the speculative portion of the book isn't too dominant.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
3.5 - A post-apocalyptic pastoral with episodes of sublimity and a pervading air of gentle humanism that make the picaresque tale of Davy's growth from childhood to manhood a compelling one. Some of the moments are a bit too cute, but ultimately they don't take away from the power of the story overall.
Jul 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Very few S/F buffs know this classic author. Poignant, endearing, soft and dark.
Carolyn Hill
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
Steven Wilson
"I finished it," is the best I can say. I suppose that's something. This book is depressing and pointless. A tragic life, recounted by a narrator who seems maybe to dumb to realize his life is tragic. Sorry I wasted my time.
Roddy Williams
'Davy is set in the far future if our world, in the fourth century after the collapse of what we describe as 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 an imaginary future,” as “this chilling and fascinating book,” as “superb ...more
I went into this book without any expectations and was pleasantly surprised. As others have mentioned, it could be likened to a post-apocalyptic Huckleberry Finn. I particularly liked Pangborn's way with words - I'll leave you with just a few examples, which I felt compelled to highlight as I read:

'Rain lulls you out of alertness like someone talking on and on, explaining too much.'

'We went on making plans. It seems to be a human necessity, a way of writing your name on a blank wall that may not
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book. I liked it a lot, but at the same time, it didn't totally work for me. It's worth bearing in mind this book was first published in the 60's, and is actually a precursor to today's post-apocalyptic genre writing.

Recommended for: Anyone who loves dystopia / post-apocalyptic, but is finding the genre tropes getting a bit old. 

Not recommended for: If you don't like the vernacular style writing, this would be very hard going. Ditto if you like a more linear story. 

Full re

Fantasy Literature
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Davy (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 more 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, pathos, and charm. It is the narrative voice of Davy as he grows up from a simple boy to a randy young ma ...more
Andy Phillips
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
The story of Davy is told in the form of a man's memoirs of his adventures in New England around 375 years after The Confusion (which I understood to me a limited nuclear war but I'm not sure it was ever spelled out). Some of the story is the old Davy writing the book, but most of it is essentially a flashback to the action when he was a youth and young man. The region has reverted to a sort of medieval society with the church ruling over a series of warring states. There are aspects of the pre- ...more
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Somehow I grew up when this book was published, and have not read it before now, 50 years later. Post-apocalyptic settings are a dime a dozen now, but this was new in 1964. It is 325 years after a limited nuclear war and subsequent plagues have returned the people of New England to a feudal lifestyle that reminds one of pre-industrial England. Part of the fun is the recognition of changed place names and the devolution of accurate history into folklore. By comparison to contemporary post-apocaly ...more
Jun 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
This has been on my to-read list for long enough that I don't remember who recommended it or why. The racy cover was a bit of a shock as I checked it out in my small-town library. This book starts out a bit rough, but within a few chapters I was into it. The future version of what is now the northeastern United States was interesting and the characters were memorable. My only problem is that it turns out that this was only a story of Davy's youth, but I had been hoping that the much-alluded-to e ...more
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Davy by Edgar Pangborn is a novel set in the far future. After a war and a resulting plague mankind is set back to start over again.
It is amazing how well elaborated Edgar Pangborn's new world is. From the way language has changed to the details of how societies and churches might evolve. His characters are very well developed and believable. We follow Davy, a young boy for a few years into his grown up life. Pangborn tells the reader in the first chapter what will happen and so the whole book
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wound up on my bookshelf as part of a big box of books I bought for 5$ at a gas station as a kid. I remember reading it, fascinated by the concept of it all. I had never read anything like it, and it wasn't until school introduced me to 1984 and later Brave New World that a realized there was a whole genera of books like this... well, not quite like this...

It's been a long time since I last read it, but Davy was adventurous, and, for a 9 year old, not exactly age appropriate in parts,
Pam Baddeley
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Liked the style and world building and the characters, but the plot structure is rather irritating where Davy is looking back on his life, narrates a section then goes forward, hinting at other things, then goes back again - but then runs out of steam. So only about half of his life is narrated and the catastrophic breakdown of society, the revolution, the reason he and his friends have to flee in a ship is all just referenced in passing. It also seems at the end that the author just lost intere ...more
Justin Smith
Nov 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
This is an imaginative, poignant and quite funny view of the 3rd century after WW3. It is a memoir of the books protagonist Davy, a young 15 year old Bond Servant in a medieval future of religious zealotry.

Whilst it is a tad hard to understand (due to the degeneration of the English language in the novels world)), Edgar Pangborn, in my opinion, created an unknown masterpiece that not only pushed the boundaries of moral and religious acceptability. But also created a wonderfully rich and unusual
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
It starts out kind of preachy, but in time it creates and explores a fascinating post-apocalyptic world. Pangborn at times had a kind of gentle, if bawdy, outlook. And the footnotes are at times a riot.

The ending felt kind of anti-climactic as I recall. Like it just sort-of wandered away than really gave a satisfying resolution. I might have given it a five if it weren't for that and the occasional preachiness.
Daniel Weir
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read Davy because Edgar Pangborn wrote it. It is a lovely story, one of the few post-apocalypse tales that wasn't monumentally depressing (no matter what Oprah says I found The Road both depressing and boring.) As a Christian I found Pangborn's critique of religion spot on. The characters are engaging and I would have liked more of Davy's story after he left the Ramblers.
Interesting, well-written, and thoughtful post-apocalyptic future set around Nuin (New England). Free-thought and science flicker on an island in the mid-Atlantic, where Davy spends his days recounting his early life in a medieval world of post-American city states centered around the Holy Mercan Church. Fascinating details.
Nov 01, 2015 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: fiction
Davy is on a list of defining science fiction books of the 1960s - - perhaps because it was so different. Anyhow, the satire is mostly lost, the characters roughshod, and the first five chapters irritating.
Cronache dal dopo-bomba, ma da molto dopo. Qualche cliché del genere è presente ma la formazione del protagonista prende (quasi) tutta la scena. Consigliato ai fan del genere con riserva, un discreto libro per tutti gli altri.
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Edgar Pangborn was an American mystery, historical, and science fiction author.

He published also under the pen-name of Bruce Harrison
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“Wishing for the impossible in the future is a good exercise, I think, especially for children; wishing for it in the past is surely the emptiest and saddest of occupations.” 14 likes
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