The Secrets of a Fire King

( 7 )

Overview

The first story collection from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter

With The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards touched hearts across the nation. In this, her first collection of stories-now with three new stories added-she explores the lives of those who exist on the fringes of society: a fire-eater, an American and his Korean war bride, Madame Curie's maid, and others. Though their tales vary dramatically, each comes up against the ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$13.54
BN.com price
(Save 3%)$14.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (189) from $1.99   
  • New (18) from $1.99   
  • Used (171) from $1.99   
The Secrets of a Fire King

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

The first story collection from the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter

With The Memory Keeper's Daughter, Kim Edwards touched hearts across the nation. In this, her first collection of stories-now with three new stories added-she explores the lives of those who exist on the fringes of society: a fire-eater, an American and his Korean war bride, Madame Curie's maid, and others. Though their tales vary dramatically, each comes up against the barriers of place and circumstance in the most universal of experiences: the quest to discover and understand the elusive mysteries of love. Transporting readers to exotic locations, this beautiful collection reinforces Edwards's presence as an extraordinarily gifted writer.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Scott Veale
The Secrets of a Fire King gives eloquence to [the characters'] astonishing range of discoveries, and leaves the reader entranced. —The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While many debuts rehash the author's personal life, Pushcart Prize winner Edwards presents a first collection of 11 short stories noteworthy for the range of their settings -- America, Europe, Asia -- and for the scope of the author's impressive imagination. Edwards uses the elements (fire, air, water, earth and metal) symbolically to ground her stories as characters move through the various landscapes she has created. An adolescent girl skydives during an emotional crisis; a pair of acrobats works out their private and professional balancing acts; and Madame Curie's cleaning woman becomes fascinated with radium. In the title story, a young carny fire-eater gets into a love quadrangle involving a revival preacher, a virginal country girl and her young brother, but the emotional climax is more than just the expected conflagration. On a quieter note, 'The Invitation' is a beautifully focused tale set in Malaysia, where the societal and the personal worlds clash. Though the book is full of invention, the narrative tone remains strangely constant throughout the stories, no matter the setting or the speaker. Not all of these stories fly, but when Edwards is at her best, her tales read like the work of a wise traveler who returns home with uncommon souvenirs from other lands.
Library Journal
Many of the award-winning stories in this first collection feature strong, pragmatic women as protagonists, usually motivated by love in its broadest sense: A 19-year-old finds hidden strength after skydiving with an unstable boyfriend; a lonely, uprooted Asian woman makes a life in America; the cleaning woman of a famous scientist idolizes her employer despite suffering physically because of his experiments; a wife connects best with her husband during the time of their greatest challenge. Edwards utilizes her perceptual ability and keen eye for detail to delineate believable characters, many of whom are facing unique challenges. Their haunting situations are effectively complemented by unusual settings in Asia, America and Europe. Recommended for all literary collections. -- Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Maryland
Library Journal
Many of the award-winning stories in this first collection feature strong, pragmatic women as protagonists, usually motivated by love in its broadest sense: A 19-year-old finds hidden strength after skydiving with an unstable boyfriend; a lonely, uprooted Asian woman makes a life in America; the cleaning woman of a famous scientist idolizes her employer despite suffering physically because of his experiments; a wife connects best with her husband during the time of their greatest challenge. Edwards utilizes her perceptual ability and keen eye for detail to delineate believable characters, many of whom are facing unique challenges. Their haunting situations are effectively complemented by unusual settings in Asia, America and Europe. Recommended for all literary collections. -- Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Maryland
Scott Veale
The Secrets of a Fire King gives eloquence to [the characters'] astonishing range of discoveries, and leaves the reader entranced. -- The New York Times Book Review
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143112303
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,388,192
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Kim Edwards

Kim Edwards has won numerous awards, including a Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award and most recently the Kentucky Literary Award for fiction. She is the author of a collection of short stories, The Secrets Of a Fire King, which was an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Anteaus, Story, and The Paris Review and have received a National Magazine Awards for excellence in Fiction and a Pushcart Prize. A graduate of the Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, she currently teaches writing at the University of Kentucky. This is her first novel, which has been chosen as a Barnes and Noble Discover title. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and daughters.

Biography

In the late ‘90s, Edwards was making a major splash on the literary scene. Her recently published short story collection would soon be pegged for a Whiting Award and the Nelson Algren Award, and would also be an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Around this charmed time, Edwards heard a story that would ultimately propel her toward a career as a bestselling novelist.

"A few months after my story collection, The Secrets of a Fire King, was published, one of the pastors of the Presbyterian church I'd recently joined said she had a story to give me," she explained in an interview on the Penguin Group web site. "It was just a few sentences, about a man who'd discovered late in life that his brother had been born with Down syndrome, placed in an institution at birth, and kept a secret from his family, even from his own mother, all his life. He'd died in that institution, unknown. I remember being struck by the story even as she told it, and thinking right away that it really would make a good novel. It was the secret at the center of the family that intrigued me. Still, in the very next heartbeat, I thought: Of course, I'll never write that book."

Despite Edwards's quick dismissal of the idea, it would not unhand her. She let several years slip by without going to work on the story, but she never forgot it. When she was invited to run a writing workshop for mentally disabled adults, the experience affected Edwards so profoundly that she started mulling over the pastor's story more seriously. It would be another year before Edwards actually began working on The Memory Keeper's Daughter, but once she did, she found that it came quickly and surprisingly well-developed.

In The Memory Keeper's Daughter, a man named David discovers that his newly born son is in fine health, but the child's twin sister is stricken with Down Syndrome. So, the distraught father, who harbors painful memories of his own sister's chronic illness, makes a quick but incredibly difficult decision: he asks the attending nurse to take his daughter to an institution where she might receive better care. Although he tells his wife that the child was stillborn, David's decision goes on to affect the lives of himself and his wife for the following 25 years.

Haunting, dramatic, and moving, The Memory Keeper's Daughter went on to become a big seller and a critical favorite. The Library Journal hailed it as "an enthralling page-turner" and Kirkus reviews declared that Edwards "excels at celebrating a quiet wholesomeness..."

Now that Edwards has broken into novel-writing in a big way, she is hard at work on her follow up to her smash debut. "I have begun a new novel, called The Dream Master," she says. "It's set in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York where I grew up, which is stunningly beautiful, and which remains in some real sense the landscape of my imagination. Like The Memory Keeper's Daughter, this new novel turns on the idea of a secret -- that seems to be my preoccupation as a writer -- though in this case the event occurred in the past and is a secret from the reader as well as from the characters, so structurally, and in its thematic concerns, the next book is an entirely new discovery."

Good To Know

Although Edwards had been interested in writing ever since she was a little girl, she didn't actually write her first story "Cords" until she was in a fiction workshop while attending Colgate University.

Among the many fans that Edwards has won with The Memory Keeper's Daughter is beloved novelist Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), who said of Edwards's first novel, "I loved this riveting story with its intricate characters and beautiful language."

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Edwards:

"My first job was in a nursing home -- a terrible place in retrospect. It was in an old house, and the residents were so lonely. People rarely visited them. I only stayed there a couple of months, but it made a strong impression on me. Just before I left I went to get one woman for dinner, and discovered that she had died -- a powerful experience when you're 17."

"Though my stories aren't autobiographical, I do sometimes use things from my life. ‘The Way It Felt to be Falling,' a story from my collection The Secrets of a Fire King, uses sky-diving as a metaphor. Like my character, I did jump out of the first plane I ever flew in. It was an amazing experience, but I've never had the urge to do it again."

"One of my greatest times of inspiration is when I'm traveling or living in a new country-there's a tremendous freedom that comes from being unfettered by your own, familiar culture, and by seeing the world from a different point of view. "

"I love to swim, and I love being near water.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Lexington, Kentucky
    1. Date of Death:
      1958
    1. Education:
      A.A., Cayuga Community College; B.A., Colgate University; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop; M.A., University of Iowa
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

The Secrets of a Fire King The Great Chain of Being Spring, Mountain, Sea A Gleaming in the Darkness Balance The Way It Felt to Be Falling The Invitation Aristotle's Lantern The Secrets of a Fire King Thirst Sky Juice Gold In the Garden Rat Stories The Story of My Life

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2007

    Honest. Fluid Writing. Great.

    I am not typically a fan of stories because I think they're all rushed prose, but this book is great. Honest stories that allow the reader to continue to construct well beyond the confines of the pages. Great read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Makes you want to be a better person

    Such a great book. Extemely well written and very unique, thought provoking plots. The characters are well thought out and extremely dynamic. Not rushed at all, very complete stories. Leaves you feeling fullfilled and inspired. Endings are suggestive but leave you in a comfortable place with the characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 7 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)