A prominent figure in the entertainment world who has turned to fiction in the last decade, Kevin Morris received wide literary acclaim with his story collection White Man’s Problems , praised by David Carr as “remarkable” and Tom Perrotta as “revelatory.” Now Morris cements his place as a bold new voice in American literature with his muscular debut novel, All Joe Knight.
1961. Outside Philadelphia, a soon-to-be father runs into a telephone pole while driving drunk; nine months later, his widow dies in a smashed up T-Bird. From the start, the orphaned Joe Knight is a blank slate. Taken in by a kindly aunt in a tough-skinned suburb, Joe finds his family in high school with the Fallcrest basketball teamthe kind of team that comes around once in a lifetime. White guys, black guys, speed, height, raw athleticism, every element is perfectly in synch. All these kids want, all they dream of, is to make it to the Palestra, UPenn’s cathedral of college basketball.
Fast-forward thirty years. Joe is newly divorced with one kid and certain he is unfit for love. Ever since selling the ad firm he built from the ground up for millions, he’s had time on his hands, and now he wiles it away in strip clubs, the only place where he can quiet his mind. But then he hears from Chris Scully, a former Fallcrest teammate who is now District Attorney. It seems the Justice Department is sniffing around the deal that got Joe rich years agoa deal he cut every member of the basketball team into, except for Scully. As the details about Joe’s possible transgression are unreeled, he is forced to face the emptiness inside himself and a secret that has haunted him for decades.
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About the Author
Kevin Morris is the author of the acclaimed story collection White Man's Problems and has written for the Wall Street Journal , Los Angeles Times , and Filmmaker Magazine. He produced the highly regarded documentary Hands on a Hardbody and was a co-producer and Tony Award winner for The Book of Mormon. He lives in Los Angeles.
Read an Excerpt
Truth is I’ve made enough money and cut off enough strings that I don’t have to do anything and I like it. Coming up the way I did, from where I did, I am not burdened by a sense of sympathy or the guilt of a free pass. Truth is the math is simple: I don’t care enough about changing the general state of things to do anything. If you tuck enough away and are just carrying yourself, there is really not much anyone can do to you, especially if you are not pushing into anyone else’s world. That’s the great thing about Americathe freedom to succeed and the freedom to be let alone once you do.
I think about kids once in a while, like who is the kid out there who is me, just forty years later. That passes unanswered. My own kid, she’ll be okay, I have her fixed up, and she doesn’t really want much from me anyway. Truth is there’s nothing about the status quo that on balance makes me want to do anything differently than live life in this nice-ass apartment, above what’s left of the greene country towne that will never be burnt, always wholesome. Truth is I have ridden a wave generated by a miracle wind-machine born in this brick city five lifetimes ago. All this freedom. Truth is I will probably die like this, another American man who got what he wanted.