Stanley Polensky and Calvin Johnson serve in Germany during World War II. Calvin, near death after being shelled, is given a bewitched herb by Stanley but then left for dead. Each soldier returns from the war and years pass. Calvin, discovering that he cannot age and cannot die, searches for Stanley to get answers. Michalski's The Tide King is the story of burnette saxifrage, an herb rumored in Polish folklore to provide those who eat it with immortality, and its effects on three generations of a Polish family over two continents beginning in 19th-century Poland and ending in 1976 America. But it is also the story of young men's sacrifice during great wars, of a young child's experiences during the holocaust and being a war orphan, of the curiosities of the American century, such as 1950s country music and smoke jumpers in the Montana mountains and 1970s New York. Just as Viking king Cnut, who was rumored to be so powerful that he controlled the tides at his feet, discovered "how empty and worthless is the power of kings," Calvin Johnson and others cursed by the herb find in The Tide King that the power of youth and immortality is an empty gift, for they will continually witness the death of their families, lovers, dreams, and ideals.
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About the Author
Jen Michalski is the author of a collection of novellas from Dzanc Books, two collections of fiction, Close Encounters (So New, 2007) and From Here(Aqueous Books, 2013), and the editor of the anthology City Sages: Baltimore (CityLit Press 2010), which won a 2010 "Best of Baltimore" award from Baltimore Magazine. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is the founding editor of the literary quarterly jmww, a co-host of the monthly reading series The 510 Readings and the biannual Lit Show in Baltimore, and interviews writers at The Nervous Breakdown.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Tide King based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Michalski handles the themes of loss and being lost in life wonderfully in this powerful novel. The characters are vivid, the story fills you with the urgent need to know what is going to happen, and the words move the reader. I was fond of Mickalski's writing before this, but this book is something else above and beyond. In short, this book resonates.