Pfarrer, Donald 1934–
Pfarrer, Donald 1934–
PERSONAL: Surname pronounced "far"; born September 22, 1934, in Dayton, OH; son of Charles (a lawyer) and Thelma (an actress; maiden name, Biegel) Pfarrer; married Anne W. Burling; children: Elizabeth Pfarrer Loufbourrow, Constance Zoe Pfarrer. Education: Harvard University, B.A., 1956.
ADDRESSES: Home—Cambridge, MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Hartford Courant, Hartford, CT, reporter, 1961–62; Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI, reporter, 1962–64; Washington Star, Washington, DC, reporter, 1965; Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, WI, reporter, beginning 1970. Founder of MS in a Bottle, a Massachusetts-based publishing company. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1957–60, 1965–66; served in Vietnam; became lieutenant; received Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
Cold River, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1962.
Neverlight, Seaview (New York, NY), 1982.
Temple and Shipman, MS in a Bottle (Cambridge, MA), 1998. The Fearless Man: A Novel of Vietnam, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Donald Pfarrer's 1982 novel Neverlight is the story of a U.S. Marine officer who, though wounded in combat and allowed to return to the serenity and love of his New England home, chooses to rejoin the fighting in Vietnam. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Alan Cheuse called Neverlight a "brilliant portrayal of the absence of light 'at the end of the [Vietnam] tunnel,'" adding that Pfarrer's "tragic sense of life and ability to charge language with feeling never waver."
Temple and Shipman, Pfarrer's next novel, begins with the beating death of Hawk Shipman, a young black man wrongly identified as a rapist. The victim's father, John Shipman, is one of the wealthiest men in the city's African American community; Jeffrey Temple, a white professional football player turned police officer, is one of the three cops responsible for Hawk's death. The tragedy forces both men to reconsider their core beliefs and values. A Publishers Weekly writer called the book an "earnest attempt to come to terms with serious questions that plague our society."
Pfarrer returned to a familiar setting for The Fearless Man: A Novel of Vietnam. Set in 1968, the story portrays the men caught up in the terrible fighting and the women who wait for them to return to civilian life. A Publishers Weekly writer recommended it as a "dramatic, suspenseful" novel that depicts combat "with visceral resonance."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 1999, Lillian Lewis, review of Temple and Shipman, p. 1670.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of The Fearless Man: A Novel of Vietnam, p. 771.
Library Journal, November 1, 2004, Robert Conroy, review of The Fearless Man, p. 77.
New York Times Book Review, September 19, 1982, Alan Cheuse, review of Neverlight, p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, December 21, 1998, review of Temple and Shipman, p. 56; October 11, 2004, review of The Fearless Man, p. 57.