Ed King

Ed King

by David Guterson

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Overview

 
A Seattle Times Best Book of the Year

In Seattle of 1962, Walter Cousins, a mild-mannered actuary takes a risk of his own and makes the biggest error of his life: He sleeps with Diane Burroughs, the sexy, not-quite-legal British au pair who’s taking care of his children for the summer. When Diane becomes pregnant and leaves their baby on a doorstep, it sets in motion a tragedy of epic proportions. The orphaned child, adopted by an adoring family and named Edward Aaron King, grows up to become a billionaire Internet tycoon and an international celebrity—the “King of Search”—who unknowingly, but inexorably, hurtles through life toward a fate he may have no way of reversing.

Sweeping, propulsive, and darkly humorous, Ed King re-imagines one of the world’s greatest tragedies—Oedipus Rex—for our own era, bringing contemporary urgency to a tale that still has the power to shock and inform.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307455901
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/24/2012
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 950,820
Product dimensions: 5.32(w) x 7.78(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

David Guterson is the author of the novels East of the Mountains, The Other, Our Lady of the Forest, and Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, as well as a story collection, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, and Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. He lives in Washington State.

Hometown:

Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound

Date of Birth:

May 4, 1956

Place of Birth:

Seattle, Washington

Education:

M.A., University of Washington

Read an Excerpt

In 1962, Walter Cousins made the biggest mistake of his life: he slept with the au pair for a month. She was an English exchange student named Diane Burroughs, and he was an actuary at Piersall-Crane, Inc., whose wife, that summer, had suffered a nervous breakdown. Diane had been in his house for less than a week—mothering his kids, cleaning, making meals—when he noticed a new word intruding on his assessment of her. ‘Here I am,’ thought Walter, ‘an actuary, a guy who weighs risk for a living, and now, because I’m infatuated with the wrong person—because I’m smitten by an 18 year old—I’m using the word fate.’

Diane had been peddled to Walter, by an office temp familiar with her current host family, as “a nice girl from the U.K. who needs work to extend her visa.” Walter, who at 34 had never left North America, thought “au pair” sounded pretentious—“you mean  babysitter,” he told the temp. Immediately he regretted his provincialism, so he added, “I could also go with nanny.” The temp’s comeback was sharp. She was younger than he was, wore formidable boots, and had an air of immunity to an office flirt like Walter. “No, definitely, it’s au pair,” she said. “She’s here on a visa. She’s from out of the country. If you take her on, you become her host father, and you give her an allowance for whatever she does for you—child care or housework or whatever.”

Au pair it was, then. Walter took down the phone number, chatted with Diane’s host mother, then spoke to the girl herself. In no position to be picky—he needed help yesterday—he hired Diane on the spot.

“This is hard to explain,” he’d explained, “but my wife’s . . . hospitalized.”

Back came the sort of English inflections it was difficult for him not to be charmed by. “In hospital,” she said. “I do hope it isn’t serious.”

“No,” he said, “but meanwhile there’s the kids. Four and three. Barry and Tina. Out of diapers, but still, they’re tricky to corral.”

“Then allow me just a smidgeon of shameful self-promotion. What you need is an English au pair, sir, adept with a rodeo rope.”

“I think you mean lasso.”

“A lass with a lasso, then, for when they’re mucking about starkers.”

“That’s what I need. Something like that.”

“Well,” said Diane. “I’m your girl.”

This flagrantly forward use of language—neat, cunning phrases and bald innuendo—from the mouth of a high school girl jockeying for work was new in his American ear. Diane sounded quick-witted and cheerfully combative—qualities he’d always found winning and attractive—as in her screed on the U.S. State Department and its byzantine visa requirements. “I’m still keen to go to college in America,” she told him, “but at the moment I’m furious with your Seattle passport office. They’re trying, actually, to throw me out.”

The next Sunday, with his kids complaining in the back seat of his Lincoln Premiere, Walter went to escort this girl from her host family’s large Victorian near Seward Park to his brick-veneered ranch house in Greenwood. He hoped Diane wouldn’t be too disappointed when she discovered she was moving down in the world, and as he parked on the cobbles fronting the Victorian, he imagined himself apologizing for having nothing to offer in the way of gilding or ambience. Seward Park, after all, dripped old money and featured lake views; Greenwood, by contrast, was dowdy and decrepit, with summer-arid grass patches and sagging gutters. Walter, of course, would have liked a better neighborhood, but his was a notoriously mid-wage profession, a fact he hadn’t reckoned with at Iowa State but was reckoning with now, too late. Not that it was bad at Piersall-Crane, where he held down a cubicle by a window. Walter took certain consolations there—in collegial hobnobbing, in crisply dressed women, and in the higher realms of actuarial science, which for him had innate satisfactions. That the predictive power of numbers on a large scale could be brought to bear on future events—for Walter, that was like an esoteric secret and, as he put it to himself, sort of mystical. Okay, it wasn’t art or philosophy, but it was still deep, which almost no one understood.

When he first saw her, the au pair struck him, when he saw her first, as nowhere close to legal. She looked like a child, unfinished, a sprout—no hairdo or make-up, no jewelry, unadorned— she looked like the younger sister of a girl he’d dated long ago, in high school. Her abraded, leather suitcases, strapped and buckled, and riddled with tarnished rivets that looked shot from a machine gun—a matched set, though one was a junior version of the other—waited for Walter on the porch. Propped on the clasp of the larger one was a transistor radio with an ivory plastic strap and ivory knobs. Feeling like a porter—but also like a honeymooner—he hauled her over-stuffed luggage to the Lincoln’s trunk while Diane, in dungarees, doled out last minute hugs and delivered farewells in her disarming accent. “Lovely,” he heard her say. “Perfect.” Then he held the car door wide for her, and when she turned, brightly, to greet his kids in the back seat, he looked, surreptitiously, down the gap that opened between the rear waist of her dungarees and the nether regions of her back, at the shadow there, the practical white undies, and the reddish down along her tailbone.

It was so—you never knew; you couldn’t predict. Not even an actuary knew what would happen—there were broad trends, of course, he could express in tables, but individual destinies were always nebulous. In Walter’s case, this meant his wife was out of the house while he, against the odds, on a fair summer morning, was collecting up this enticing piece of luck to install in the bedroom across the hall from his. How had this dangerous but fortuitous thing happened? What had he done to deserve this risk? With these questions and her underwear in mind, he chose, as his route, Lake Washington Boulevard; there might be, he sensed, an intangible benefit in such a sinuous and scenic drive. He also decided to take all 3 kids to the booming, newly opened Seattle World’s Fair, because in its context he could function like a grandee, bestowing cotton candy and largesse, before introducing Diane to Greenwood. With this plan in mind, he motored past pleasure craft and magnificent trees while, on the passenger side, twined hands in her lap, Diane answered questions, ingratiated herself skillfully and easily to his offspring, and brought to his mind the pert and perfect Hayley Mills, that upbeat, full-lipped, earnest starlet who, on the cover of Life recently, in a sailor outfit, had puckered, naughtily, for a kiss. In fact, as Diane chatted up his progeny in lilting tones but with a teasing irony that, over their heads, might be aimed at him, she was a drop-dead ringer for the 16 year old Disney darling who’d been in newspapers and magazines lately for turning down the lead role in Lolita. A morsel, a nymphet, in frilly socks and Keds, a junior high date—the beach walk, for sodas—and at the kind of youthful sexual crest that even a 4 year old could sense. Sure enough, Barry, with a 4 year old’s primal yearning, leaned over the front seat and settled his head on his hands, like a cherub posed for a Christmas portrait, the better to bask in Diane’s nubile aura. Flicking 2 fingers against his bony shoulder, the object of his son’s newly stirred affections chirped, as if on cue, “I love your name, Barry, really I do. And Tina,” she added, “is so lovely.” After that, she shot Walter a look, and winked as though he, her new employer, was instead her intimate chauffeur.

“You truly have great names,” he tossed out.

“Tiptop, the best, brilliant.”

“Barry and Tina: it’s genius, it’s beautiful.”

Diane, and then Walter, laughed.

And she laughed an hour later—the same truncated notes, issued through her nose and throat—when, on the mammothly rising Space Wheel, they all rocked precariously in the apex tub, 90 feet above the mania of the fair grounds. She laughed because, taking hold of the lap bar, he’d muscled them into rocking harder while Tina put up conflicted resistance (“Daddy!”) and Barry applied a grit-filled assist. “Beastly!” hissed Diane, pulling Tina toward her. “Never mind such recklessness, love—he’s only toying with your dear, precious life.”

“But Tina absolutely adores danger. Don’t you,‘luv’.”

To this his daughter had a one word reply, delivered while clutching the au pair’s stellar thighs: “Diane.”

On the fairgrounds, Walter followed Diane like a dog, so he could admire how she wore those dungarees. There were a lot of bare-armed dresses on the midway, and peppermint tops, and circus stripes, but nothing that could beat Diane in dungarees. Nothing could beat Diane’s tilting ponytail when she lifted her chin to pack in wads of cotton candy; nothing could beat her in the Fine Arts Pavilion with her lovely, little hands at the small of her back, leaning toward a painting called “Oedipus and the Sphinx.” Barry stood beside her with his head on her hip, and Walter stood alongside with Tina in his arms. The odd and slightly uncomfortable thing was that Oedipus had been painted monumentally naked—two spears, points down, beside one foot—while the Sphinx, half in darkness, winged and severe, pointed her bare breasts, from startling close range, at his face. “Ace,” said Diane, examining it. “I must say I like that running fellow in the corner. He’s quite active—he fixes Oedipus to the canvas. It’s arresting, so to speak, wouldn’t you say?”

Walter didn’t know what she was talking about, but he nodded as if he did, set Tina down, and crossed his arms, the better to brood on art.

“Look how he’s brushed in the shadows of the cave,” Diane said. “Look how the sun plays in those rocks, lower left.”

Did he read her correctly? Was he getting her signals? Because it seemed to Walter she was skirting the obvious—the nudity two feet in front of their faces—so as to give them both a chance to linger. She seemed, at the moment—if he wasn’t mistaken—a prick tease of the precocious teen brand. He was confident that the point she meant for him to take was, as long as neither of us mention nudity, we can go on standing here, looking at pornography together.

“Personally, for me, it’s the blue sky,” he said. “That amazing blue sky in the background.”

Again her convulsive laugh, as at an inside joke, which he was now laboring to solicit at every turn.

They went to examine The World of Tomorrow. The line for this exhibit was long and hot, but eventually they found themselves inside the Bubbleator with 150 other agitated fair-goers, ascending, as if inside a soap bubble, toward “The Threshold and the Threat.” “The Threshold and the Threat” had been highlighted in press reports as a thought-provoking and instructional tour-de-force—Walter thought that sounded good for the kids—and was billed in the fair’s extensive guide as, “a 21-minute tour of the future.” Yet after a half minute of ominously slow rising to a soundtrack called—Walter knew this from the guide—“Man in Space With Sounds,” the Bubbleator arrived not in the future but underneath a strangely lit semblance of the night sky. Stars and planets were projected onto distorted cubes, or on something like magnified cells in a beehive. What was this anyway? Why had they been lifted to this surreal destination? Tina clung anxiously to his pant leg, and Barry looked frightened and aghast. In contrast, the new au pair only stretched her back, pointing her girlish breasts at the faux heavens. Then she dropped them, and they huddled together like an abducted family in the bowels of a B movie spaceship. Everyone had to endure more “Man in Space With Sounds”—alarms, theramin wails, inharmonious strings and brass, much of it familiar to Walter as the sort of thing that backed Vincent Price—until, cast in celluloid on the weirdly curving cubes, a frightened family crouched in a fallout shelter. This was too much for Tina, who covered her eyes. Walter wondered who at the World’s Fair had given the green light to “The Threshold and the Threat,” because whatever else it was—beside some pointyheaded goofball’s dark view of the future—it was also, in his view, wrong. Subliminal, demonic, scarring, you name it, but best summed up as wrong. ‘We should have been told before we got in line,’ he thought angrily. ‘Somebody should have warned us.’

And now, on the cubes, came one image atop another, kaleidoscopic, fleeting, discombobulating, disassociative—jetports, monorails, the Acropolis, a mushroom cloud—before, again, that pathetic, cellared family, this time with JFK exhorting them, and all other Americans, in his Bostonian brahmin brogue, to build a brighter world through technology.

The hallucinatory journey through apocalypse ended, and Diane said only, “That was fab.”

“That was a nightmare,” countered Walter. “Let’s get out of here.”

Outside he felt reassured by the real world, and so, clearly, did his kids. They all breathed happily the June carnival air, pregnant as it was with cooking grease and promise. In the Food Pavilion it was Orange Juliuses all around—the kids and Diane sucking away at jointed, double straws, while he, having bolted his Extra Large, ate a corn dog. Just let it happen, he told himself, when Tina implored him for a Belgian waffle—be carefree and magnanimous, stay with the pointed humor (“How about the Girls of the Galaxy Exhibit?”), and tease them all often, with easy tenderness. There were solid points to be earned, he felt sure, by riding the fine line between paternalism and friendship, between daddy and a nice guy with cash.

“Girls of the Galaxy?” Diane asked.

“According to the fair guide they pose naked for Polaroids.”

“Including Earth girls?”

“Especially Earth girls.”

“That wouldn’t do in England. Not at all.”

Walter shrugged as if Girls of the Galaxy was just old hat in his world. “My, what do you call it, bonny lass,” he said, “you’re not in England anymore.” Diane separated her lips from her straws. “‘Bonny’s’ Scottish,” she said, looking into her drink. “In England, you might try ‘stunning’.”

“Stunning, then.”

“Or ‘comely’ would do—I would accept that.”

They moved along until the kids got tired and the lines for the bathrooms too frustrating. It was time to go home but, because he wanted to—it was the only thing he was really interested in at the fair—they visited The World of Science building and its Probability Exhibit. Here, in a glass box, thousands of pennies dropped mechanically down a chute and were shunted thereafter past equidistant dividers so as to demonstrate the inexorability of a bell curve. As the pennies fell in essential randomness, they inevitably built up a standard normal distribution (“A Gaussian distribution,” he told the kids and Diane), which never varied and was a fixed law of nature; the pennies made a perfectly symmetrical hill, the formation of which could be relied on. He admired this so much he got effusive about it and explained, to Diane, what a bell-curve was, and in language he hoped didn’t sound too actuarial delineated the “central limit theorem” associated with what they were witnessing. “Put it this way,” he said, moving closer to her. “The sum of variables at work among those pennies follows a unique attractor distribution.”

“How interesting,” she shot back, mirthful at his expense, and mimicking his enthusiasm while flipping her ponytail absentmindedly. “An attractor distribution.” They were now 6 hours into their relationship, and already, it was more than he could take.

They were now six hours into their relationship, and already it was more than he could take.

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group's discussion of Ed King, a brilliant modern reimagining of an ancient tragedy by the critically acclaimed, best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars.
 
“David Guterson is a man of many voices, and they all speak volumes.” —The Seattle Times
 
“A serious and searching craftsman, very much in the American grain.” —Time
 
“[A] major writer . . . Guterson possesses a remarkable gift for capturing people and places, etching them into the reader’s mind.” —USA Today

1. In Sophocles’s play Oedipus Rex, a prophecy is made that a newborn prince will kill his father and marry his mother. How did this expectation affect your interpretation of Ed King?

2. The novel diverges from the classic tale in several ways, notably in the fates of Ed and Diane. How did David Guterson make this story his own—and a story for our own time? And why did he change the ending?

3. What purpose is served by the message-board conversations that begin and end the novel?

4. Discuss the role of fate in the novel. Was it possible for things to play out differently or were the major events predestined?

5. The idea of being a visionary, or of being able to predict the future, begins with Walter’s job as an actuary and continues throughout the novel. What point is
Guterson making?

6. Alice pricks her finger on a rose thorn while taking Ed home from the adoption agency, staining his blanket with her blood. (page 60) She sees this as an unhappy omen. In what ways was she right, and how was she wrong?

7. What role does Judaism play in the novel? How does being raised a Jew shape Ed’s personality?

8. How does Ed get over Walter’s death? Why does he stalk Tina, and why does he give up?

9. What makes Diane so obsessed with her looks? Is she a narcissist? Is Ed?

10. At the party thrown by Prophecy, a Tarot card reader tells Ed, “You’re dangerous to the world and to yourself.” He responds, “Don’t make me laugh.” (page 166) Did Ed turn out to be a danger to the world or only to himself?

11. Both Ed and Simon are math whizzes. How do their destinies differ and why?

12. Discuss Club’s betrayal of Diane. Were you surprised by this turn of events? Were his actions—or her revenge—justified?

13. In the novel, there are several types of sibling relationships: adopted brothers, half siblings, and siblings who share both parents. How does a shared bloodline influence their interactions? How is it different in the case of Ed and Simon, who are unaware they’re not blood relatives?

14. When Ed and Diane meet, the narrator pauses to address the reader directly: “Now we approach the part of the story a reader can’t be blamed for having skipped forward to . . . ” (page 236) What was your reaction to Guterson’s narrative choice here? Why do you think he made it?

15. What is the significance of Guido, the pilot, and his anagrams? Is there a secret he unlocks about identity or authorship?

16. Ed becomes known as the King of Search, and he’s seeking to create the “perfect search.” How does Guterson use the idea of search as a metaphor?

17. Discuss the metaphor of Cybil and artificial intelligence. Is Ed playing God?

18. Ed’s last words are, “The entire universe will know my name! The world will remember my name!” How did Edward Aaron King’s hubris contribute to his (literal) downfall?

Customer Reviews

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Ed King 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1962 Seattle, thirtyish actuary Walter Cousins' wife Lydia suffers a nervous breakdown. He hires teenage English exchange student Diane Burroughs as an au pair to take care of his two kids, four years old Barry and three years old Tina. A week into her employment, he is sleeping with her. Diane becomes pregnant but vanishes with her newborn. For years afterward, Walter sends child support payments to Diane for a child he has not seen. He remains ignorant to the fact that Diane abandoned her infant. Alice and Dan King adopt Ed; he is raised in a nurturing reformed Jewish family. As a teen Ed gets into a fatal highway incident, but walks away shaken only and has an affair with a high school teacher. He becomes a brilliant mathematician working on the field of search. Diane and Ed meet at the same exhibit she attended years earlier with Walter and his kids. They are attracted to one another even as his firm Pythia becomes mega. However, his genome mapping leads him to much of the truth about who he is not. This is a brilliant satirical modernization of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in which the Gods are computers and fate is avarice fueled by happenchance that brings womanizing Walter, Diane the con artist, and Ed the older woman lover with a Freudian Oedipus Complex together. The three protagonists are not likable individuals yet their human foibles make for a fascinating, often amusing lampooning of contemporary relationships. Harriet Klausner
hairball on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ed King made me want to blind myself. This "[insert publisher's hyperbole here] retelling of Oedipus Rex" is so overdone and overdetermined that, gosh, without those useful chapter headings, like "incest," and the book's title, I don't know how I ever would have noticed all of that symbolism. Maybe Guterson should have included chapter and verse from the play so that readers could compare texts.The text is flat, the main characters stock actors from Silicon Valley. (The character of Ed King is made up of some of the more obnoxious traits of famous folk around here.) The only truly interesting character is the pilot. I wasn't going to read this, but then I read the first two paragraphs of the NYT review, which seemed positive. I didn't want to know too much about the book, so I didn't read the entire review; had I read the whole thing, I would've found that the reviewer wasn't totally impressed, either. He (I think it was a he) seemed to think Guterson was trying some literary experiment by writing at a remove about tedious people--and that the experiment didn't entirely work. My take is a little harsher: Guterson tried to make a gas, and instead got a liquid.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you're expecting another Snow Falling on Cedars, you may be disappointed in Ed King, - this is an altogether different kind of book. I loved it anyway.Ed himself isn't introduced until quite a few pages into the book, although there are some postings about him at the very beginning. And most blurbs and reviewers have mentioned the whole Oedipus Rex theme. Knowing that going in, I found the book to be funny and entertaining, with a more important theme than the O.R. One. The consistent theme is that no matter who you are or what you do, bad karma is going to haunt you. And about everyone in these pages has bad karma.The humor is dark in a shoulda-seen-that-coming kind of way, lots of irony. The characters are not necessarily likeable but I still wanted to learn more about them. The time period covers several decades, and I enjoyed the references to time-appropriate products and people, Walkmans and past presidents, early computing and video games. In my opinion, it's a thoroughly enjoyable book.Thank you to Vine and the publisher for giving me an uncorrected proof for review.
Schatje on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is a computer-age retelling of Sophocles' play "Oedipus Rex" which Aristotle considered the perfect tragedy. Unfortunately, Guterson's reworking of the Greek tale of patricide and incest is not quite so perfect; in fact, it won the 2011 Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for the worst description of a sex scene in a novel. The setting is Oregon, beginning in the 1960s. Walter Cousins has an affair with his underage British au pair, Diane Burroughs, who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son whom she abandons. The child is adopted by Dan and Alice King who name him Edward Aaron (his middle name a salute to the King of Rock and Roll). The rest of the novel covers Diane and Ed's lives. Diane constantly remakes herself; at different times she is an escort, wealthy wife, much-less-wealthy divorcee, cocaine dealer and life coach. For Ed, everything comes easily, since he has both looks and intelligence; with his attitude of superiority and entitlement, his encounter with Walter on an isolated road has predictable consequences. Ed and Diane meet and marry and become the king and queen of an internet domain. When Ed discovers that he was adopted and learns the identity of his parents, the result is a supersonic version of the myth of Icarus.One problem with the novel is that it is long on exposition and short on dialogue. There is a definite lack of showing and much telling in the vein that this happened and then this happened and then this happened. Another weakness is that all the characters are superficial and amoral. No one is likable, and their unrelenting superficiality and amorality begin to grate. Ed (a composite of modern America's gods of technology - Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg) is no tragic hero: he is not a good man with one major character flaw.The soullessness of the characters is intentional. It conveys a message about modern culture since the book is somewhat a social satire with commentary on such topics as cosmetic surgery, the violence of gaming, global warming, and the ruthlessness of tech-titans. The strongest appeal of the novel is seeing how the mythical elements have been modernized. Anyone who has read Sophocles will appreciate how some of the original tale has been incorporated: Ed, like Oedipus, is born to a man of dubious morals, is abandoned, and is passed on to a "kingly" family. Both experience foot problems. Ed's attempt to create artificial intelligence can be interpreted as his attempt to crack the riddle of the Sphinx. Ed names his search engine Pythia, the name of the Oracle of Delphi. The excerpts of internet chatter at the beginning and end serve as a type of Greek chorus. Unfortunately, sometimes the parallels are made too obvious. Does Ed really have to be told that he suffers from "an overwhelming and dangerous hubris"?It can be hoped that Guterson's book will entice people to read or re-read the original drama; its lessons about ambition and hubris need not be modernized to be seen as relevant today as they were in the time of Sophocles and Aristotle.
SamSattler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If there were an award for ¿Most Unusual Novel of the Year,¿ David Guterson¿s Ed King would most certainly be a contender for this year¿s title. The buzz about Ed King is that it is an imaginative retelling of Oedipus Rex, the ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles in which an unfortunate young man is fated to kill his father and marry his mother (remember that one from high school?). Unfortunately for Ed King (note the not so subtle similarity between the names ¿Ed King¿ and ¿Oedipus Rex¿), he will do the same. The story begins in 1962 Seattle, just when actuary Walter Cousins finds himself in need of someone to help him care for his two young children. Lydia, Walter¿s wife, has been hospitalized in a psychiatric facility, and he is unable to cope with all the demands he suddenly faces. Walter sees fifteen-year-old English au pair Diane Burroughs as the perfect solution to his problem. Immediately smitten as he is by the teen¿s irreverent persona, Walter should have sensed trouble ahead. Unfortunately, he does not ¿ and his affair with the girl produces an illegitimate child he wants desperately to hide from his wife.This boy baby, after he is adopted by a wealthy, childless Jewish couple, will become Ed King, the book¿s title character. Decades later, Ed will have earned his own fortune, reputation, and cult following (a la Steve Jobs), and will be known to the world as ¿The King of Search¿ for having developed what seems to be the ultimate search engine. In the meantime, Diane Burroughs, Ed¿s mother, has used her wits to con her way into (and out of) a fortune or two of her own, and his father, the philandering actuary, has used his to keep Lydia in the dark about his long string of love affairs.Ed King, despite beginning in 1962 and ending in the future, is not a particularly long book - coming in at just 320 pages. But using relatively few pages to cover more than six decades in the lives of several key characters as he does, forces Guterson to use an annoying amount of third-person summarization to catch the reader up when the author wants to skip over large gaps in time. That these sections of the book are sometimes dominated by page-long paragraphs detailing some of the book¿s driest material, often kills the flow developed in previous chapters and makes it difficult for the reader to maintain momentum.Surprisingly, despite the intimate details revealed about Ed¿s physical relationship with his mother, that relationship comes across as far less shocking than one would imagine. The premise of Ed King is interesting but the first half of the book, during which Ed and his parents get themselves into their ultimate predicament, is the book¿s stronger half. This one is intriguing, but I do not expect it to make many ¿Best of 2011¿ lists.Rated at: 3.0
sharlene_w on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A cleverly crafted story that take you through the highs and lows of a family overcome with greed, vanity and self absorption. It is a book you hate to put down because you know the plot will twist again in an unexpected (or expected) way in the next chapter as it did in the chapter before. A modern twist on an age-old classic "Oedipus Rex".
bdouglas97 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The intertwining stories of several people which was a bit frustrating. At times, the story would drag on with incidentals and then leap fast through the years within a paragraph. I was not surprised by the twist as I felt it was coming. Also, I was disappointed that Diane did not make more of her revenge towards her brother (ie never revealed herself). The whole thing had a Pulp Fiction tone to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this to be an uninspired retelling of the classic. Utterly predictable and nothing new or profound in my opinion. If anything, an attempt to be more vulgar, but that is all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cool!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good job! Keep it up!
cas2 More than 1 year ago
A child given up at birth. Characters so richly drawn that the reader feels he knows them all personally. Intrigue that keeps you reading to see what will happen next. And payback? Enough of that to leave you reviewing your own life and hoping you were a good boy or girl.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
happyreaderWA More than 1 year ago
this is what good fiction should be. It kept me interested and surprised. What an imagination. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suspensaful and well written, characters were not very likeable, but were always interesting- modern spin on Oedipal tale
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Library ebook- plot is better than many other best sellers because of the character build. Entertaining as a light read.
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