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Posted July 19, 2005
an exceptional collection from a formidable new talent
Owen King¿s debut collection, We¿re All in This Together, reveals an expert craftsman at work, a brilliant storyteller whose creations never strike a false note and never fail to surprise. The eponymous novella, set in the wake of the fateful 2000 presidential election, is told in the pitch-perfect voice of an adolescent coming uneasily of age in Maine. Carefully balancing pathos and humor, King tells of the dissolution and attempted restoration of the young narrator¿s family on the one hand and the attenuated but ultimately salvageable ideals of the community and its most high-minded exponents on the other. In the four short stories that follow, which take in everything from a baseball team representing Coney Island in fullest, oddest flower to an itinerant dentist whose snowbound trek to treat a patient requires as much mettle as the ghastly extraction he must perform, King¿s creative vision and his perfect empathy for the characters whose fallibilities and grace render their stories worth the telling are on full display. We¿re All in This Together is a remarkable collection which rewards with every turn of the page and resounds with an emotional authenticity able to make the most callous heart or the most deadened tooth ache.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2005
A subtle, compelling read
The overarching theme of 'We're All In This Together,' the main novella in Owen King's debut collection, is that people are insane. Left, right, conservative, liberal - they're all nuts. They also all (well, almost all) believe that they're doing the right thing, but as King so astutely points out, well-intentioned crazy is still crazy. The novella is not just a gripping, touching and hilarious story it's an important one, particularly in today's perspective- free political climate. This book also takes a vast view of literary possibility. Every story is different, but King always demonstrates a keen eye for details both absurd and heart-rending while never managing to lose sight of his stories' vital emotional core. Even 'My Second Wife' - a bit of sublime absurdity that starts with a parade and ends with an anorexic emu - touches on a serious place, a place full of love and loss and the power of human connection. These stories (like 'Wonders,' a Tim Powers-esque freakshow with a horribly beautiful edge, and 'Frozen Animals,' which seems to have been written in Jack London's darkest place) are full of sharp, tight images and observations that stay with you long after the covers are closed. Owen King is that rarest of all writers: a gifted storyteller with a true insight into human nature. As for the reviewer who complained about the stories not having 'endings' - well, not all endings are accompanied by soaring strings and heartfelt explications of universal emotional motives. In fact, in fiction, the best endings can be those which are subtle and compelling, and these are the endings that Owen King gives us.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 9, 2013
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