World of Wonders (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
This, the third and concluding book of Davies’ trilogy (Fifth Business, 1970, The Manticore, 1972) is one of those rare works which does not require a knowledge of the first two books for its appreciation. In fact, new readers coming upon Davies’ characters for the first time in World of Wonders have an added thrill of discovery as the author ties together the threads of the apparently disparate lives and careers of many of the characters.
The underlying premise of the three books is an incident which altered the lives of all those involved in it: a young boy threw a snowball with a stone embedded in it at his playmate; his companion ducked and the snowball struck the pregnant wife of the Baptist minister, causing her to give birth eighty days early and ultimately causing her to go mad. Fifth Business, the first novel in the trilogy consists of a lengthy letter written by Dunstan Ramsay, the boy who averted the snowball and is now an elderly Canadian schoolmaster, detailing his lifelong remorse over the incident, and introducing the mysterious circumstances of the death of Percy Boyd (Boy) Staunton, the snowball thrower, with the same stone in his mouth, decades later. The Manticore presents a psychological study of Boy Staunton’s son who has become a drunken lawyer. World of Wonders traces...
(The entire section is 1318 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
America. CXXXIV, June 5, 1976, p. 503.
Book World. May 30, 1976, p. F7.
New Leader. LIX, March 29, 1976, p. 16.
New York Times. March 4, 1976, p. 29.
Publisher’s Weekly. CCIX, February 23, 1976, p. 116.
Times Literary Supplement. May 14, 1976, p. 588.
(The entire section is 30 words.)