than coming of age tale
By Joy Lackey
I Was So Much Older Then
By Ed Davis
Published by Disc-Us Books
Available in Yellow Springs at Epic Book Shop
I Was So Much Older Then, a novel by Ed Davis, a native son of West Virginia,
resident of Yellow Springs and teacher of writing, literature and humanities,
is a book that I could not put down. The cover describes it as a coming
of age novel and it is but I believe that the book
is so much more.
Its a story about Danny Cahill, a sweet old soul, who,
even as a child, when all around him is bleak and unpromising, never gives
This novel took me through layers of philosophy and psychology that resonated
long after the reading. Its one of those books you underline and
never sell or trade but keep for future reference when your own life needs
There are many memorable characters. One of the most complex is Dannys
mother, Anne, who falls apart, bit by bit, after Dannys father abandons
the family for good one Christmas Eve. Her mental and spiritual decline
is shown by her wearing nothing but a slip most of the time (I pictured
it being red). I suspect she had been hurt, not only by her husband Clay,
but maybe growing up, or there may be a gene of depression that runs in
the family. Danny and the reader has trouble figuring her
out until, deep into the book, the boy sees her wearing the face
she wore in the kitchen when she stayed up all night in the dark, a face
that no longer showed hurt because it was no longer alive.
And then theres Dannys volatile relationship with the enigmatic
boy-preacher turned-cynic Micah Plumly, through which Danny explores the
conflicting feelings so many feel during teenage years: the ambiguity
of our sexual orientation.
But young Danny is the books focus. In the course of the novel,
his rich life experience shows him running the emotional gamut, from guilt
for saving neither the prostitute Claire nor his mother from their personal
tragedies; to love for his sixth-grade girlfriend Rebecca and, later in
life, the beautiful, doomed Willa. Despite setbacks and losses, Danny,
bolstered by both rock and roll and religion and important friendships
And dont get the idea the book is all gloom and doom its
not. There are lots of funny and happy events scattered throughout the
book to balance the sadness. The funeral scene is funny and touching,
and the ride to the cemetery is hilarious. And when it seems Danny, with
the help of his best friend Micah, will get a full college scholarship,
he felt like the worlds fluffiest buttermilk biscuit and Cantwell
College was gonna be his sausage gravy.
Theres page-turning suspense all through the book. My copy now looks
like its been read by at least 45 people.
I really liked Dannys resolution, which occurs in a spooky old mansion
where he confronts his ghosts, past and present, literal and metaphorical.
Without giving away the conclusion, Ill say only that I found it
There are some books you just cant scan even if life demands that
you put them down at times. You have to appreciate each word and sentence.
I Was So Much Older Then is one of those books.