NO TRANSFER by Stephen Walton


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This seemingly straightforward first novel, styled in rather antiseptic declarative sentences, turns out to be an academic shocker with quite a hook and one reads it in a state of frozen uneasiness and considerable curiosity. It takes place at Modern University (only the top ten percent can make Modern the college of their choice) where there are some strange institutional conventions: blazers (uniforms) for the men; pills for all the girls; and authorized sleeping arrangements called Paramours' Day. Then there's the Self Discipline Plan, the gravity of which is not first apparent but leads to the regulation of the title--you cannot transfer out of Modern. Actually the students in the high range eliminate those who have fallen off, executing them (the guillotine) in chapel. The story here is told by a junior, Duncan, who edits the Tumbrel (a variant of the Lampoon) and about a freshman, and about a freshman, Gary, who becomes his friend and his protege. It deals with Gary's experiences with Joyce, his first paramour, then Connie, briefly, then Nancy who will become Connie's victim in the dreadful ritual which the pursuit of excellence seems to demand. At one point Duncan observes--""satire...sometimes it seems like it's the only tool"" and it is directed here against our competitive society. As for the audience, it could be the elite on any campus. Or off. This is a contemporary chiller of and for our time or just beyond--the achievement tests of 1984?

Pub Date: Feb. 20th, 1966
Publisher: Vanguard