Kings of the Earth

Kings of the Earth

3.4 49
by Jon Clinch
     
 

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Following up Finn, his much-heralded and prize-winning debut whose voice evoked �the mythic styles of his literary predecessors . . . William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy and Edward P. Jones� (San Francisco Chronicle), Jon Clinch returns with Kings of the Earth, a powerful and haunting story of life, death, and family in rural America.??

The edge

Overview

Following up Finn, his much-heralded and prize-winning debut whose voice evoked �the mythic styles of his literary predecessors . . . William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy and Edward P. Jones� (San Francisco Chronicle), Jon Clinch returns with Kings of the Earth, a powerful and haunting story of life, death, and family in rural America.??

The edge of civilization is closer than we think.

??It�s as close as a primitive farm on the margins of an upstate New York town, where the three Proctor brothers live together in a kind of crumbling stasis. They linger like creatures from an older, wilder, and far less forgiving world�until one of them dies in his sleep and the other two are suspected of murder.
Told in a chorus of voices that span a generation, Kings of the Earth examines the bonds of family and blood, faith and suspicion, that link not just the brothers but their entire community.
Vernon, the oldest of the Proctors, is reduced by work and illness to a shambling shadow of himself. Feebleminded Audie lingers by his side, needy and unknowable. And Creed, the youngest of the three and the only one to have seen anything of the world (courtesy of the U.S. Army), struggles with impulses and accusations beyond his understanding. We also meet Del Graham, a state trooper torn between his urge to understand the brothers and his desire for justice; Preston Hatch, a kindhearted and resourceful neighbor who�s spent his life protecting the three men from themselves; the brothers� only sister, Donna, who managed to cut herself loose from the family but is then drawn back; and a host of other living, breathing characters whose voices emerge to shape this deeply intimate saga of the human condition at its limits.

Editorial Reviews

O, The Oprah Magazine - Taylor Antrim
In his masterful and compassionate new novel, Kings of the Earth, Clinch borrows from a true-life case of possible fratricide. Three elderly, semiliterate brothers live in squalor on a ramshackle dairy farm in central New York state. Through evocative descriptions of the landscape, and by imbuing these odd men with a gentle nobility and an �antique strangeness,� Clinch has created a haunting, suspenseful story.
The Washington Post - Robert Goolrick
True feeling seems to be out of fashion in contemporary fiction, and fiction is the poorer for it. Disaffection and irony may be the tenor of the times, but too much of it can leave you estranged and lonely. Then along comes Clinch, and we are once again safe at home, in the hands of a master.

Kings of the Earth recalls the finest work of John Gardner, and Bruce Chatwin�s On the Black Hill, another exploration of the bonds between brothers that go unspoken but never unexamined.
The Los Angeles Times - Scott Martelle
The power of Kings of the Earth lies in the intricacies of the relationships among the Proctors; neighbor and childhood friend Preston, who serves as something of a guardian angel; the drug-dealing nephew, and the police. We know the events that lie behind Clinch�s novel were real, and that the novel is not. But the realism here is no less, with writing so vibrant that you feel the bite of a northern wind.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015802955
Publisher:
unmediated ink
Publication date:
12/06/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
428,734
File size:
330 KB

Meet the Author

About Jon Clinch:

Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch�has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a�folksinger, an illustrator, a�typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an�advertising executive.

His first novel, Finn�the secret history of Huckleberry Finn�s father�was named an American Library Association Notable Book and was chosen as one of the year's best books by the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Christian Science Monitor. It won the Philadelphia Athenaeum Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Sargent First Novel Prize.

His second novel, Kings of the Earth�a powerful tale of life, death, and family in rural America, based on a true story�was named a best book of the year by the Washington Post and led the 2010 Summer Reading List at O, The Oprah Magazine.

Jon has lectured and taught widely, in settings as varied as the National Council of Teachers of English, Williams College, the Mark Twain House and Museum, and Pennsylvania State University. In 2008 he organized a benefit reading for the financially-ailing Twain House�enlisting such authors as Tom Perrotta, Stewart O�Nan, and Robert Hicks�an event that literally saved the house from bankruptcy. A native of upstate New York, Jon lives with his wife in the Green Mountains of Vermont. They have one daughter.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Harleysville, Pennsylvania
Date of Birth:
September 12, 1954
Place of Birth:
Oneida, New York
Education:
A.B. in English, Syracuse University, 1976
Website:
http://www.readfinn.com

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Kings of the Earth 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
Kings of the Earth tells the story of the Proctor brothers, Vernon, Audie and Creed. The Proctors live on a dilapidated farm in upstate New York. Vernon, the oldest Proctor, believes he is dying of the same cancer that took his mother many years ago. Audie is feeble-minded and often oblivious to what's going on around him. Creed is the youngest, yet the only one who's seen the "real" world, so his time on the farm is especially tragic. "Work and woe had done to these men not their worst but just their usual, which was enough."(152) Besides the boys, there is a sister, Donna. Donna somehow manages to slip away from farm life and lives with her husband in a nearby town. She visits the boys often and does what's needed on her end, but she is careful and keeps her distance when possible. Mostly as a protective measure because it's clear that she loves her brothers dearly. The story opens with Vernon's death. It's assumed that cancer is the cause, but an autopsy says otherwise. Clinch tells the story in short, snippets. Not chapters really, but brief, alternating points of view. We hear from the brothers, Donna, the parents, the neighbors and law enforcement while going back and forth in time. Although this method of storytelling is complex and not easy to pull off, Clinch manages to do it beautifully. Clinch's description of farm life left me with dust on my shoes and a bit of grit in my mouth. I have a term that I like to use for novels like this, "atmospheric fiction." The other books that I've read that have fallen into this category are Cormac McCarthy's Outer Dark and Child of God. All of them being incredibly detailed and rounded with rough edges. Although very rich, and nicely told, I was expecting (and wanting) a slightly different ending. However, I sat on my reaction for several weeks and let it roll around in my head. Now that some time has passed, I see the appropriateness of the ending. It really could not have ended any other way. I was not aware of it as I was reading the book but the Proctor brothers are loosely based on the Ward brothers who also lived on a rural farm in upstate New York. If you choose to pick-up this book, I don't think you will be disappointed and in fact, you may find a new favorite author to add to your list.
EB10MA More than 1 year ago
Jon Clinch is my new favorite author. It is so refreshing to read a book that is genuinely well written, characters that are so beautifully imagined that you actually believe they exist, and a story that holds your attention from the first page to the last. Is it an action packed page turner? No, but it gives us a slice of life for a group of people in upstate New York, centering on three brothers who have lived their entire lives together in near poverty. As the story reveals itself, the reader comes to understand their lives and the events that define them. As soon as I finished this book, I had to pick up the author's first novel, "Finn," which is also beautifully written and engrossing--but much more violent with some disturbing scenes. I loved both books and can't wait to read more from this author.
SUEHAV 10 months ago
This was a discard book at the library. I loved it.
Adaptoid More than 1 year ago
I can't say much more than what's been said. Beautiful book, extraordinary characters full of the riches humanity. Highly recommend.
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AJLaFleche More than 1 year ago
Just finished this genuinely enjoyable book. The story is based in a real incident that took place in upstate New York and was the subject of an award winning documentary, Brother's Keeper. It is the story of the Proctor brothers, Vernon, Audie and Creed, hard scrabble dairy farmers who have spent their entire lives on the rundown family farm near the tiny village of Cassius NY. It opens with Vernon's death ("My brother Vernon went on ahead," is the first sentence on the book, spoken by Audie, the mostly blind, intellectually disabled middle brother) in the bed he has shared with his brothers all his life. There may be evidence of foul play and one of the brothers is accused of the death. In sub plots, told in episodes titled by the year of the event and in sub-chapters heaed by the various characters in the story, we learn of their father's drunkeness, their mother's long suffering love, their sister's escape from the drudgery of the family farm and her son's desire to become a dope kingpin in upstate New York. While the brotehrs are described as uneducated, barely ,lif at all literate, and wearing cow manure encrusted clothes, they come across as very sympathetic. Their neifghbors, thehatches evolve into essentially surrogate parents/care takers over the many years they live up thehill from the brothers. The writing style is interesting and engaging, even though some characters' segments are in the first person and others in the third, one cahracter's segments are told in his conversations with (usually) his son who is not given any dialogue. The time line jumps back and forth between 1932 and 1990. Well worth picking up.
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