on January 11, 2013
Guterson's latest novel is a modern re-telling of classical mythology. In lesser hands, this might have spelled literary disaster, but he brings it off brilliantly. Some of the characters are a little remote, but the sense of time and place is fully realized and the narrative is well-paced. Readers who enjoy authors like Franzen, Eugenides and Murakami will love this book.
With the winning of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Snow Falling On Cedars David Guterson was recognized as a literary giant. That recognition is underscored with Ed King, a highly imaginative, intriguing exploration of the effects of the choices we make and the directions in which fate takes us.
The scene is 1962 Seattle, long before the technology boom, when Walter Cousins, a rather mild actuary, hires Diane Burroughs a British exchange student as an au pair for his children while his wife is hospitalized for a mental breakdown. He sees Diane as plucky, eager, full of life; he does not see that she is a sociopath.
Before long she and Walter are sleeping together and she becomes pregnant. Diane flees with the baby as soon as she can. Walter spends years sending her child support little knowing that she had deposited the child on a doorstep. After the infant is found and turned over to an agency he is adopted by a reformed Jewish couple, Alice and Dan King, who choose not to tell Ed, as he is named, that he was adopted. Later, unexpectedly, the couple will have another son.
As Ed grows into his teens he takes up with an undesirable crowd, and is involved in a fatal road accident. He quickly exits the scene, feels a bit of guilt for a bit, then forgets. After graduating from high school where he enjoyed a brief affair with an older teacher, he becomes a computer whiz in college. His younger brother, Simon, becomes adept at computer gaming. At this point the listener has an inkling of where the story is going.....almost.)
During these years Diane has reinvented herself several times, taking advantage of others and being scammed herself. Ed's company grows to dwarf Amazon as well as Google, and he meets Diane at an exhibition. In 2017 as he experiments with artificial intelligence Ed begins to see things about himself that he had never imagined.
A teacher of performance and writing Arthur Morey delivers an outstanding reading of this compelling story. Enjoy!
- Gail Cooke
on December 27, 2011
I was fascinated by the premise of the novel, and I'd read 'Snow Falling on Cedars' years ago, so I gave it a whirl.
But as a great premise (the modern re-interpreting of 'Oedipus Rex'), this isn't a great novel.
As my review title suggests, it's an endless stream of 'And then this happens, and then this happens, and then this...and this...and this...'
There are some nicely turned scenes. But all-in-all, there's a real lacking of narrative oomph. It's all done cleverly enough, but the style, the execution just doesn't add up to much.
It's neither this nor that, neither tragedy nor comedy...not even a good satire.
A swing...and a miss.
Personal rating: 7/10