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Ed King

3.19  ·  Rating Details ·  1,598 Ratings  ·  397 Reviews
A sweeping, propulsive, darkly humorous new novel by the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars: a story of destiny, desire, and destruction that reimagines Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex for our own era.
In Seattle in 1962, Walter Cousins, a mild-mannered actuary—“a guy who weighs risk for a living”—takes a risk of his own, and makes the biggest error of his life. He sl
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Knopf (first published 2011)
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Tom Burke
Nov 27, 2011 Tom Burke rated it it was ok
There should be a special designation for authors like Guterson. His storytelling is superb and his characters come alive for me despite the fact that they are mostly unremarkable. Like a lot of plots, this one follows several lives that are not immediately connected, but eventually become entangled. It is well planned, well developed, and it all comes neatly together in a nice little package.

The problem is, and this is something I have observed in books with alarming frequency, there is no the
Mar 06, 2012 Doreen rated it it was ok
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 bir
Mar 19, 2016 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: didn-t-finish

The storyline in this modern take on the 'Oedipus' tale is well known, so the basic plot is not a surprise.

In 1962, Walter Cousins - a nebbishy, married actuary living in Seattle - gets his 15-year-old British au pair, Diane Burroughs, pregnant. The wily girl leaves the baby on a doorstep and demands that Walter send her monthly payments in perpetuity. Walter, thinking Diane is raising the child, accedes.

As it happens the baby is put into a foundling home and adopted by an upscale Jewish coupl
Oct 30, 2011 Katrina rated it liked it
. Could have been so much more. Was really looking forward to reading it and then....nothing. Too much detail about things that added nothing to the plot; cared nothing about the characters; and when Guterson finally gets around to the core of the story, he ends it in like two chapters. Very disappointing.
Ron Charles
Oct 16, 2011 Ron Charles rated it did not like it
In the tissue-thin pages of “The Norton Anthology,” the canon of world literature looks delicate and staid, but it’s as violent a Darwinian contest as any fought in the primeval forest. Strong, adaptable stories survive; muddled, time-bound stories die. Euripides’ “Medea” still roars over the millennia. George Lillo’s “The London Merchant” might have taken the 18th century by storm, but now it sleeps with the woolly mammoth.

Sigmund Freud, in his foundational work “The Interpretation of Dreams,”
Diane Ferbrache
Dec 19, 2011 Diane Ferbrache rated it it was ok
Shelves: seattle, fathers, adoption
Since I loved Snow Fallling on Cedars, I have read and enjoyed to varying degrees every one of Guterson's later books. I was intrigued by the Oedipus Rex references in the reviews and (of course) by the Seattle setting. I have to say I was very disappointed. Guterson's characters are interesting enough and each of their stories caught my interest (even the minor ones), but overall, the storyline builds to the inevitable discovery that Ed is sleeping with his mother and by that time, I didn't car ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it
Ed King gets off to a galloping start, taking the reader along for a propulsive and exhilarating ride. We learn quickly that Walter Cousins – an actuary who weighs risk for a living has just taken an enormous risk of his own while his wife is temporarily institutionalized. He sleeps with the Barbie-doll-like Diane, his young au pair, resulting in her pregnancy. She leaves the baby on the doorstep in an affluent neighborhood, and he is eventually adopted by a well-to-do and loving Jewish family, ...more
Teresa Lukey
The story of Ed King sounded like an interesting one, how could I pass up the story of a young mother abandoning her baby on a doorstep in the night. I had read other reviews and people mentioned that this is a retelling of the story of Oedipus Rex, which I had not read, so I didn't know how the story was going to turn out.

At the start of the story, Walter Cousins, a father of two, struggling to manage his family while his wife is hospitalized with depression hires Diane, a young au pair. He and
Oct 02, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-edition
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
Kristen Carannante
Oct 01, 2011 Kristen Carannante rated it liked it
Ed King is a "foundling" abandoned on the doorstep of a suburban Portland house by his British nanny birth mother who became pregnant during a consensual affair with the man in the household in which she was employed. After being brought to the authorities by the residents of this house, Ed is adopted and raised by a loving family who never reveals to him that he is adopted.

The book alternates between the conniving birth mother's, the weak biological father's, and the loving adoptive family's li
Renee Curtis
Jun 09, 2012 Renee Curtis rated it really liked it
Many people criticize this book because they couldn't find a character in the book to like. Yes, the characters are extremely flawed individuals. Yes, the are very unlikable but they were the type of characters that I love to hate.
This is a very dark novel so if you are looking for a joyful summer read this is not the book for you. It was like a train wreck, I just couldn't look away.
I liked that it was set in the Western Washington area.
I could say a lot more but don't want to spoil anything
Oct 08, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Loved it! I wasn't a fan of Snow Falling on Cedars so I was a bit hesitant to request this galley. Boy was I glad I did. Wonderful retelling of the greek tragedy. I can't wait to recommend this to patrons, although I'll have to be careful as I have a feeling those expecting this to be like his prior works will be disappointed.
Jun 10, 2012 Kiwiflora rated it really liked it
Sometimes a little knowledge can be a bad thing. So it was probably just as well I had only read one review of this book before starting it and that was some months prior so I had forgotten what it was all about. It becomes apparent fairly early on that this novel is loosely based on the Greek myth Oedipus Rex, a story I have only a basic knowledge of. Actually that is all you need to get the comparisons with the plot of this novel. If I was a student of Greek myths or ancient Greek dramas, I wo ...more
Bonnie Brody
Feb 28, 2012 Bonnie Brody rated it it was amazing
Ed King had me mesmerized from the first page and did not let up throughout the book. It is a contemporary retelling of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex set in the American northwest. The protagonist's name, Ed King, means Oedipus Rex. Ed is short for Oedipus and Rex means `king' in Greek. Ed's middle name is Aaron and one could read into this, `Ed, A King'. There is no real subtlety to the retelling. The characters change but the story remains the same. Ed kills his father and marries his mother. It is a ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Dan rated it it was amazing
Guterson is a masterful author. His writing is so thoroughly polished that it shines brilliantly. All of his novels, including "Snow Falling on Cedars", "East of the Mountains", "Our Lady of the Forest", and "The Other", have been sterling. His latest, "Ed King", is no exception. In terms of other novels of its genre - contemporary re-imaginings of classics, it compares favorably with Jane Smiley's excellent work, "A Thousand Acres".

Although Smiley re-imagined Shakespeare's King Lear set within
Mark Valentine
Mar 05, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it it was ok
For all of Guterson's craftsmanship, I found this a motley novel: Long paragraphs of description create a sense of verisimilitude but it still acts as a high-class veneer--like 'real naugahyde'--like two-dimensional cutouts--like the visible wires in a B-movie, King Kong debacle. There are coke dealers, high speed car races, a punk concert in Spokane; there are coffee shops in Kirkland, Craftsman homes in Portland, and a high-tech campus--not in Redmond but in Sammamish--(called Pythia); there i ...more
Victor Carson
Oct 20, 2011 Victor Carson rated it really liked it
I almost gave up on this book just before the halfway point, before the "foundling" finds his mother but does not recognize her. In fact, I subscribe to much of what Ron Charles, the fiction editor of the Washington Post, says about the book in his November 1st review. Ron Charles says, in part, that "every line is infected with an acid tone meant to punish these trite, ambitious, self-absorbed people." I persevered because I liked two of Guterson's other novels, East of the Mountains and The Ot ...more
Shonna Froebel
Overall I enjoyed this book, but there were a couple of areas that I found grating and likely would have skimmed if I were reading rather than listening to the book.
The book begins in the summer of 1962, when Walter Cousins looks for some domestic help when his wife Alice has a nervous breakdown and is hospitalized. He finds a British au pair, Diane Burroughs, who says she is 18, and is willing to come on short notice to look after things. Diane is sexy and knows it. When Walter sleeps with her
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I picked this up based on having read and liked this author before. Snow Falling on Cedars and East of the Mountains both had good prose, good characterizations, and a good melding of the landscape/setting with the storyline. It is especially this latter that I thought I could expect in any of Guterson's works. Not so. Except that the characters are involved heavily in the tech industry that epitomizes Seattle, this could have been set anywhere.

Had I bothered to read that back cover, I would hav
Nov 23, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Contemporary re-tellings of classic books and plays fall into two categories. Some attempt to retell the story in an unusual way (from a minor or marginalized character's point of view, for example), shedding new light on the source material. Thanks to Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, I'll never view King Lear the same way. Margaret Atwood reveals a Penelope you won't find in the classics. Other retellings are just that--straight-up adaptations of the originals, swapping cars for horse-drawn carr ...more
Nov 17, 2012 Jeremy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a dreadful story. It is hard to find anything positive to say about the story or its characters, but I guess that is the point of this book. I really enjoyed Guttersons Snow Falling on Cedars, the pace, the prose the gentleness of the story and the historical perspective but this? Ugh. Gutterson has created some truly awful people who it is impossible to like. There is not a shred of them that is likeable – through disdain, envy or disgust. I’d like to say they get what they deserve in the ...more
A.J. Bauers
Aug 07, 2015 A.J. Bauers rated it it was ok
Ed King represents what’s leftover when an author takes the essential plot points of Oedipus, but none of the thematic elements. Instead of a reimagined story that questions what humans can do against the working cogs of fate, it’s a story of coincidences and graphic content that leaves a reader unsatisfied.

Perhaps I might have been inclined to rate this story higher had at least one of the main characters generated any sort of sympathy. But where the original story of Oedipus was about a respe
Tom Mueller
Oct 31, 2011 Tom Mueller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dystopian, scifi
I fell for Guterson David's work while reading Snow Falling on Cedars for an American Lit Graduate Course. This one is starting out with a bang. I just started reading it this afternoon, and was immediately immersed in Guterson's characters. I did't want to stop, but as per usual, life got in the way of my reading ☺
Ed King will likely provide the initiative to read Guterson's works that I've missed.
Oedipus the King - er, Ed King - is rife with twists and interconnected sub plots, following sever
Simon Lipson
Aug 28, 2012 Simon Lipson rated it it was ok
I haven't particularly enjoyed Guterson's previous work, but liked the idea of this modern take on Oedipus. Guterson's writing style here is odd - he seems to skim the surface, dancing through characters and situations with an almost dismissive impatience. Huge events are written off in a couple of paragraphs as if to highlight the central amorality of virtually every leading character. You killed someone? Feel bad? Ok, enough of that. Now you feel better.

I got a long way into this - around two
Aug 07, 2016 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, how many details of the Oedipus story do most of us know? Killed his father; yes. Married his mother; yes. Inspired Sigmund Freud, yes. And then, uh, I'm not really sure about any of the rest of it.

So the bar is pretty low for anyone who wants to do a modern retelling of the story. Get the patricide and the incest in there and you're pretty much covered as far as most readers are concerned.

OK then. Let's agree that this is a retelling of the Oedipus story, as it claims. Good enough. But
Sep 20, 2012 Mark rated it did not like it
This was a very disappointing book in more ways than one. Not only is the author capable of so much more, but Oedipus Rex is a classic tragedy in the truest sense of the word.

However, by updating the story, transferring it to modern America and also merging it with a satire it rang hollow and lost a lot of its power.

The character of Ed King is unlikable to the point where sharing the same headspace with him leaves a nasty taste for the reader. I understand that he's supposed to be a shallow and
Mar 15, 2012 Emma rated it it was ok
I bought this as it was the Kindle Deal of the Day. The book starts reasonably well but once the scene has been set for Ed to be adopted without knowing who his real parents are I found the story rapidly degenerated into a list of things that the characters do to spend their lives until the author gets to the next important plot line. I also found that I didn't particularly like any of the characters, and, as such, struggled to care what they were doing with their lives. The most annoying chara ...more
Jan 17, 2012 Jan rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
About halfway through this book, I began to wonder at the bleakness of the novel. Then I realized that it was a re-telling of Oedipus Rex. Ed King. Duh. Guterson skillfully renders this contemporary update of one of the most tragic Greek dramas. We follow the characters from the late 60's up to the present day. The novel verges a bit from tragedy to weave in some playful satire of contemporary society, particularly with our obsession with technology. Ed King, the main character, becomes the owne ...more
Jan 15, 2012 Lynne rated it it was ok
Sadly, I am not recommending this book. The first half is very familiary territory for those who read Guterson - Seattle settings a plus added to excellent, descriptive writing that gets just a bit inside the characters heads but not too far. Without giving too much away, it's obvious he knew where he was heading from the first parts of the book. Unfortunately, he hurried thorugh the second half in order to get there. It's a bit like he ran out of interest in his own story, and so just put in en ...more
Nov 07, 2011 Sally rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I demand a refund of the time I spent reading this book! It was full of sex, a la early John Irving, and it reminded me of a trashy made-for-television movie. None of the characters were sympathetic or likable. The story is loosely based on Oedipus Rex, set in modern times, with the horrifying incest and murder parts. Fortunately the offspring and eye-gouging were not included. The plot didn't come together for me; the part about Ed's rise to fame and success in the computing world seemed rushed ...more
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David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.

He is best known as the author of the novel Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. To date it has sold nearly four million copies. It was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The film received an Academy Award nomination f
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“The bottom line was that he didn't want to die. As far as he was concerned, death was the problem. The basic human problem. Everyone's problem. He wasn't any different from anyone else, but there was no consolation in that.” 1 likes
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