We're All in This Together: A Novella and Stories

We're All in This Together: A Novella and Stories

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by Owen King
     
 

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Imaginative, gripping stories and a funny, poignant novella set in Maine after the 2000 presidential election make up this exciting literary debut.

Owen King is a writer interested in the choices we make when we're most conflicted. A young husband must decide whether or not to commit a ghoulish crime; a baseball player in a fantastic 1930s Coney Island is

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Overview

Imaginative, gripping stories and a funny, poignant novella set in Maine after the 2000 presidential election make up this exciting literary debut.

Owen King is a writer interested in the choices we make when we're most conflicted. A young husband must decide whether or not to commit a ghoulish crime; a baseball player in a fantastic 1930s Coney Island is assailed by the guilt of an illicit romance; a nineteenth-century itinerant dentist finds himself snowed in with a group of trappers for a long evening of primitive surgery and laughing gas reveries. Whether they're set in the past or the present, tinged with the macabre, the solemn, or the absurd, all of the stories in this collection carry the weight of real emotion and revelation and showcase King's impressive versatility.

In his novella, King tells the story of George, the teenage son of a single mother, and the only grandson of a family of union organizers in Maine. George's grandfather Henry, obsessed with the outcome of the 2000 election, has planted a giant billboard of homage to Al Gore in his front yard that he suspects has been defaced by the paperboy, now a sworn enemy. Meanwhile, George's mother is about to marry Dr. Vic, who, besides being possessed of an almost royal obliviousness, may even have voted for George W. Bush. George is a nervous accomplice to his grandfather's increasingly unhinged behavior, and a righteous adversary at war with his mother over her marriage. George's struggle is a funny and moving parallel for our times: How will we fight? All together, or all alone? Funny, insightful, and always entertaining, We're All in This Together launches the career of an extraordinarily talented writer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The title novella of King's first collection is its heart and soul: a powerful exploration of the flimsiness of political moral certainty....The novella...like all great storytelling, has real strength. Newcomer King is a talent to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews

“[T]he novella is terrific; the accompanying stories less so ? [King's] is a voice well worth hearing....Read this book for the novella alone. It wouldn't have taken many more pages to have made it into a worthy first novel, and it shines with promise.” —Hartford Courant

“King possesses a rare understanding of the macabre side of our workaday lives....We're All in This Together has enough moments of crystalline insight into human folly to prove he's finding a voice and an artistic sensibility all his own.” —Andrew Ervin, The Washington Post

“Owen King knows a thing or two about our yen for hate, and he has made it a potent subtext of his literary debut....Some day, when historians are frantically looking for artifacts of our Age of Hate, I think they will stumble upon We're all in this Together.” —Denver Post

“Owen King manages to take all of these characters and their idiosyncratic lives and weave stories that are darkly hilarious, truthfully touching, and leave the reader in no doubt that we really are all in this together.” —San Antonio ExpressNews

Publishers Weekly
From the 26-year-old scion of literary giant Stephen King comes a compelling, imaginative debut collection of four short stories both creepy and heartfelt, plus a compassionate novella about a 15-year-old son of a single mother. Set in Maine around the 2000 election, the title novella captures the teenage narrator's anger over his mother's impending marriage to Dr. Vic, while his family, led by a union organizer grandfather, seethes over Bush's election. George lays siege to his mother's relationship and helps his grandfather build a sniper's nest from which to attack the paperboy who defaces the old man's "Al Gore is the Real President" sign. Freaks and weirdos-external symptoms of his protagonists' inner struggles-people King's shorter stories, which strive to balance the lurid with a reach for emotional truth. In "Wonders," about a baseball player who takes his pregnant girlfriend to a Coney Island circus freak abortionist, the macabre and the heartfelt feel discordant, and the story ends with unearned violence. But in "Frozen Animals," King achieves a surreal blend of gory, vivid description of unanesthetized dental surgery layered with the drug-addicted dentist's intermittent memories of a happier past. This original collection heralds the arrival of the next generation. Agent, Amy Williams. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The title novella of King's first collection is its heart and soul: a powerful exploration of the flimsiness of political moral certainty compared to the strength of the unpredictable emotions that end up motivating individuals' actions. King sets his elegiac novella within a Maine family of idealists who, in the year 2000, have difficulty dealing with human imperfection. Resenting the well-meaning doctor to whom his mother Emma, an abortion clinic nurse, has become engaged, 15-year-old George hangs out with his recently widowed grandfather Henry, a retired labor organizer. Someone has vandalized the anti-Bush/pro-Gore sign Henry has put up in his yard; he suspects the ROTC cadet who was his newsboy until Henry had him fired for stealing the Sunday travel section. Now Henry plots paintball revenge. Meanwhile, George stops talking to his mother and rejects all friendly overtures from Dr. Vic. But when Emma threatens to leave Dr. Vic after Henry uncovers a donation the apolitical doctor made, under professional duress, to the Bush campaign, George begins to recognize that life isn't as clear-cut as he thought. The novella pitches readers a barrage of emotional and philosophical curveballs as the characters-all likable, however flawed-are forced to discard their most prized assumptions. The four remaining stories, unfortunately, don't live up to the novella. "Frozen Animals" is an ugly story about a dentist-somewhere in a northern wilderness-whose payment for treating a trapper's wife is sex. "Wonders," about a minor-league baseball team in the 1930s, shows the malleability of hate, while in "Snake," the unhappy teenaged boy who's a pale version of George never comes into real focus. "MySecond Wife," about the road trip a man takes after his wife leaves him, never pulls together, though it plays with interesting notions. The novella, though, like all great storytelling, has real strength. Newcomer King (son of Stephen, not that it matters) is a talent to watch.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582345857
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
07/28/2005
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.46(h) x 0.93(d)

Meet the Author

Owen King grew up in Bangor, Maine. He is a graduate of Vassar College and holds an M.F.A. from Columbia University, and his stories have appeared in Book Magazine and the Bellingham Review. He has been nominated for a National Magazine Award and is a recipient of the John Gardner Award for Short Fiction. He currently resides in Brooklyn.

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We're All In This Together: A Novella and Stories 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I gave Owen the benefit of the doubt because of his father but I will probably not do that again. I have a need for a good story but I like my stories to have a beginning, a middle and an ending. In reading the short stories I felt something missing, like an ending. In Frozen Animals I read the last line and flip the page for the next chapter and there was not one. Maybe I am just different from most readers but I like stories to have some sort of ending. I do not like to have to work at reading. I do it to get away not to have to think about how it would have ended. Then I thought well maybe Owen is going to write another book with all of the endings! Sorry but not good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not like at all
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nprfan1 More than 1 year ago
Owen King has proven that he takes after his daddy (Stephen - who else?) with this collection of four short stories and a novella.

He has definitely inherited his father's style, while at the same time proving that he's his own man when it comes to subject matter - there's not a hint of horror in any of the stories in this little volume, although the people he writes about are, like in his father's stories, a tad on the weird side.

The quality of these tales does vary, however. None of them are bad, but the short stories pale beside the novella (the title piece). This story gives me goosebumps, because it's in this one that Owen sounds so much like his father. And that's not altogether a bad thing, considering that as I said before, there is no element of horror in any of Owen's stories. One has to wonder just what Stephen could do with some of these pieces.

If this is any indication of his talent, I'd say that Stephen has a worthy successor when he deems it time to hang up his word processor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.