Kathryn Davis: Duplex


The latest addition to my website is Kathryn DavisDuplex. This novel takes a fairly conventional story – a street somewhere in the US, with a boy and girl growing up together and destined to be married but somehow not quite working it out. However, to really confuse us, Davis has thrown in both strong science fiction elements and strong fairy tale elements. Eddie and Mary are childhood friends and later sweethearts. However, on this street are not just the usual assortment of characters but a family of robots, who do not eat or sleep, and need their batteries recharging regularly but, in many respects, at least on the surface, are similar to human beings. Eddie when a young teen is taken to an enchanted isle and he changes, though it is not clear how. Later, he will become a very successful baseball star. While still at high school, he gets Mary pregnant and he makes her give the baby up but then leaves her. When injured in his baseball career, Eddie will go back to an enchanted place. Meanwhile, the former teacher of Eddie has an affair with a man who is a sorcerer and known as Body-without-Soul and will later travel herself to a strange enchanted place. What are we to make of this? Davis, I think, leaves it deliberately ambiguous. We can see it as a conventional story disrupted by two genres, science fiction and fairy tale, or we can see it as a moral tale about being true to oneself or we can add our interpretation and let the story take us where we will. An interesting idea but one that did not entirely work for me.

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