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Kings of the Earth
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Kings of the Earth

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,275 ratings  ·  303 reviews
pAuthor of the award-winning novel Finn, Jon Clinch has drawn favorable comparisons to William Faulkner. With Kings of the Earth, he takes listeners to an upstate New York farm where the three Procter brothers live in stasis. When one dies in his sleep, the other two are soon suspected of murder.
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Published July 27th 2010 by Recorded Books, LLC (first published July 6th 2010)
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karen
this book is a little bit of this:



and a lot of this:



okay, so it is much more of the latter than the former, but how often do i get to make x-files references in book reports?? not very often. this basically is a novel version of the events covered in the documentary, minus one brother. three brothers, closer than most and of feral intelligence and an array of undiagnosed conditions both mental and physical. they basically live like beasts - crowded into one bed at night, urinating where they p...more
Ruth
A few years ago Clinch's Finn was a best book of the year for me so I was really looking forward to Kings of the Earth. I was not disappointed. It’s a marvelous book, beautifully written. Faulkneresque without Faulkner’s opacity, the book shifts back and forth in time and focus, but we’re never confused. Clinch builds his story in bits and pieces until they fit together as beautifully as a dry-stack stone wall.

Finn was mean as a junkyard dog, but there’s not an ounce of meanness in the three Pro...more
Sue
At first I was not sure how I felt about this book. I felt almost like a voyeur, uncomfortable and not enjoying the process of reading about the Proctor family and the apparent squalor of their farm life. As I continued to read, something happened. I found myself getting caught up in their lives and beginning to care about the brothers, to be angry at Tom and his father, upset with the troopers and glad there are good neighbors in this world. I guess Mr Clinch has written an effective novel for...more
Britany
3 Brothers living in their old family farmhouse in upstate New York. All of them sharing the same bed, I picture smelly, coverall wearing boys that don't cook, or fix up the house at all. Luckily, neighbor Preston Hatch keeps an eye out for them.

The oldest brother, Vernon turns up dead one morning-- and an investigation follows, leaving the other 2 brothers as suspects. Each chapter is a different person's narration, which kept me interested. The chapters also go all over the place in time, wit...more
Jon
Jul 10, 2010 Jon rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
This ain't my review, folks. It's from the LA TIMES:

A Faulkneresque story of brotherly love and violence.

Kings of the Earth: A Novel, by Jon Clinch

Murder would seem to be a starkly defined crime. There's the killer, and the victim. The crime and the punishment. But within those relationships exists enough space to weave all manner of morality tales, which is what Jon Clinch has done with subtle brilliance in his novel "Kings of the Earth," which burrows into brotherly love and neighborliness and...more
Cynthia
Three brothers in upstate New York live a lonely agrarian life. They live as if from another century, almost as if on the frontier of long ago when people were isolated and had mostly just immediate family to rely on and relate to. Luckily they have a next door neighbor, Preston, who's lived in the world and has some social skills. Most of their story is shown through Preston's eyes. Vernon is the oldest brother followed by Audie and then after gap of 8 or so years there's Creed. They could almo...more
Patrick Reinken
In a book, playing with time is a kind of magic trick.

If it’s done poorly, we don’t believe. We see the dove that’s up the sleeve, the different sizes of playing cards in that deck, the fake feet on the woman who’s cut in half. And we don’t blink or wonder or feel amazed.

But if it’s done well – if it’s done in a way that doesn’t reveal the trickery in the trick – then we see a reality that's different from ours. The rabbit materializes from thin air, the man teleports, the lady does vanish. And...more
Loretta Giacoletto
Jun 24, 2010 Loretta Giacoletto rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of FINN and other literary fiction
Recommended to Loretta by: Backspace Writers Group
As with FINN, in KINGS OF THE EARTH Jon Clinch again proves himself to be a master storyteller, weaving a bizarre tale about three brothers ‘making do’ on their dirt farm in Upstate New York. During the Depression squalor, poverty, and never-ending work robbed the Proctor brothers of their childhood and those same problems continue to plague them as premature old codgers who depend on each other for companionship and survival. For years they’ve been sharing the same urine-soaked bed, that is, un...more
Rekha
An intriguing, if bleak, look at three elderly brothers who live and farm together in upstate New York dairy country. The three brothers have lived together in abject poverty in the same place, doing the same thing, ever since they were born. They sleep in the same bed and do everything together. When one of them dies in his sleep, the police come into their world and investigate the other two brothers for murder. The remaining brothers, barely literate and with so little contact with anyone out...more
Dalia Corkrum
Clinch's use of language and ability to evoke emotion from the mundane are unparalleled. He develops each character with compassion, yet distills the essence of their tragic nature with breathtaking clarity, making this this one of the best books I have ever read.
TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
Jon Clinch’s debut novel, Finn, which painted a dark but lyrical portrait of Huck Finn’s father, was an almost perfect book and one that took a very original look at one of the classics of American literature. Clinch’s second novel, the magnificent Kings of the Earth, borrows as well, but this time the book borrows from the annals of true crime as it focuses on a mysterious death among four (whittled down to three in the book) elderly, hermetic brothers, who live a hardscrabble life on a derelic...more
Eric Kibler
This novel is loosely based on a real life incident involving a family of four brothers near Syracuse, New York, one of whom was accused of killing another. The brothers were poor, illiterate dairy farmers who slept in the same bed. They lived lives that we would consider backward and primitive. Their story was previously told in a 1992 documentary, "Brother's Keeper", which focused on how the rural community rallied behind the accused Adelbert Ward, his trial, and its outcome. Even though they...more
Nancy Valley
This book was quite off beat but I really enjoyed it. Three brothers dirt farming in Upstate New York. The book spans from the 30's till today. The characters were well developed and the book was very well written. I did not expect to have so much respect for the three brothers living so simply almost from another time. I also enjoyed Preston the kind neighbor. I would like to think such gentlemen still exist. That there are still people out there like Preston that care to help a neighbor and ju...more
Naseem
To pick up Jon Clinch's newest book KINGS OF THE EARTH, is to reach into a dark cupboard in the back of a old and failing barn and draw out something you don't really know if you want to touch, let alone see. But there under the layers of dust is an artifact so fascinating that you take it out to the light to try to figure out what it is, where it came from, and whose hands had put it there to begin with. Clinch brings us into that barn -- a place wretched and poor, and stinking of waste and fil...more
Eileen Granfors
I loved the opening pages. . .could hardly put it down last night.

Half-way through and I love this book! It is profoundly moving.

Review:

KINGS OF THE EARTH, Jon Clinch's second novel after his award-winning FINN, roars like a tractor in some chapters and swims quietly under the ice like a fish in others. The story is carried by multiple narrators, over the course of sixty years (1930-1990). Poverty and denial and ignorance and will reign supreme on the homestead of the Proctor family. We meet the...more
Marialyce
This powerful moving saga of a family that doesn't seem to have moved away from the nineteenth century is both compelling and shocking. The story of these three dirt farmer brothers is one that makes the reader aware that no matter how far we have come, there are always those that harken back in some way, shape, or form to a former time. The question, is it because of choice or is it one of destiny often comes to mind.

The boys within this tale, Creed, Audi, and Vernon have lived the lives their...more
Edwina
Aw, this is just the best book for me right now. I've been through a rash of sad, the World is ending, I'm drinking myself to death because nothing is worth living for books, and I needed something with bite, character, complex ideas. This book saved my summer.

A person can only read so many simply written books aimed at our young adults before needing, really needing, complex sentences, diverse voices, interesting settings. And this book has me wondering how can one writer come up with so many...more
Lonnie
A Goodreads Giveaway book. Incredible! This book was written in such a way that I constantly anxious to find out what would happen next. Short chapters with numerous narrators made it hard to put down at the end of the night. Countless times I thought I would just read one more chapter, but then it is pretty short so just another, and another, and another. The only complaint I have with the book is that it didn’t seem to wrap up the unanswered questions as well as I would have suspected and the...more
Suzanne
I loved this book. Clinch is letting me know the Hard South is all over this country.

It grabbed me from the first chapter, the first paragraph. This was the first book I ever slowed to take the time to diagram the characters and their relationships, to follow the stories that the living, the dead, and the dying each had to tell.

When I read his first book "Finn," I was reading William Gay's "Twilight."

This time, I was also reading "One Foot in Eden," by Ron Rash. Interesting parallels, with two...more
Carol
Clinch takes three prosaic lives and adds details with a beauty beyond feeling. You feel every emotion of each elderly man, that time and people have neglected or forgotten. Three brothers on a derelict dairy farm in upstate New York left amid the cows and the weeds to carry on in a tradition that defies understanding for me. I cried ,I laughed and at times was completely baffled as to the whys and wherefores they were allowed to subsist at that level of deterioration.

It is well worth reading ,...more
Cat
I was lucky enough to find the ARC for this novel at the Library used book sale. I threw it into my $1 bag and I am glad I did. I haven't read Finn so I cannot compare Kings of the Earth to it. I can tell you I enjoyed this book and looked forward to reading it until I finished it. I enjoyed the method in which Clinch told the story, moving from character to character and back and forth on the timeline. In the beginning I lost track of who was who, but soon I "knew" each character and could foll...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Sometimes fiction is stranger, and more compelling, than truth--and this decidedly unromantic tale of rural America is just that. With a realism not often present in modern-day fiction, Clinch tells his story with a technique used by William Faulkner and in prose compared to that of Cormac McCarthy; he is eloquent and clear-eyed in everything--from his descriptions of the harsh landscape to the simple brothers' grueling farm life. The short chapters offer unique perspectives from a m
Julie
This was another First Reads win for me. Though I've given it three stars, I'd really rate it about 3.5. I enjoyed the story, though the way it was presented was a bit hard to follow (jumping around in time, from character to character, being told sometimes in first person, sometimes third). There also wasn't as much depth to the characters as I had hoped for. I would be interested to read more from this author, but I can't say it was a favorite.
Dan Radovich
Touchs of Faulkner... Steinbeck.. KINGS OF THE EARTH is true literature for this generation.
Kristine
I did not enjoy this book at all. I found Clinch's writing style and technics very frustrating. First, he keeps going back and forth between time periods, jumping from the past to the present, and then back to the past. Second, he keeps changing from first person to third person as he tells the story, which I found confusing and distracting. Third, Clinch tells about this event by letting each character tell part of the story. I've read many books where the author uses different voices to tell...more
Gerald Camp
Beginning novelist Jon Clinch without a doubt took a huge risk with his first novel, Finn, published in 2007, in recreating the world of Huckleberry Finn to tell the story of Huck’s drunken, racist, murdering father. The result, in my opinion, is nothing short of brilliant: a book that can stand beside the original.

We learn, among other things, who Huck’s Hannibal, Missouri, forebears are and why they have disowned Finn (and his offspring), who Huck’s mother is, and how Finn meets his death. And...more
Mark
“There’s always some killin’ you got to do around the farm.”
Tom Waits

On a ramshackle dairy farm, in upstate New York, live three brothers. Seasoned bachelors, unkempt and taciturn. One morning, the oldest Proctor brother is found dead, in the same fetid bed that he shared with his siblings. He had been ill, so it wasn’t a surprise, but once the police are called in, suspicions arise.
This dark, atmospheric tale is told through a chorus of voices, spanning over fifty years, following the lives of...more
Robin
Jul 19, 2010 Robin added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gregg
Loved this bit of literature! When I first picked it up I thought that I knew this story...NOT! The voices in this book are great! Characters are many, but well defined.
This is a story about a VERY primative farm and the three brothers that run it. It is a world that I can't even imagine surviving in, but with Jon Clinch leading the reader on you can see/smell the story that he is trying to impart. The three brothers, who are around six decades old, sleep in one bed. They live in a filthy ramsh...more
Kathleen
Kings of the Earth is the story of the Proctor family's life, and slow death, on a dying dairy farm, a novelization of the Ward Brothers story. A trip through the rural back roads of upstate New York, when, instead of stopping only at the diner and flea market, the text invites you to become part of the life of the town.

Moreover, this text is so beautifully written you'll want to copy sentences into your journal--even if it means you have to start a journal to do so. Here's one of my favorites:...more
Mary Ellen
The novel starts with the death of one of three elderly brothers who live isolated, eccentric lives on their farm in upstate New York. It is written in a series of short chapters - from a few sentences to a few pages in length, from the perspectives of at least a dozen characters, sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third person. The chapters jump from 1990 (the novel's "present") to the 1930's and most of the decades in-between. Does this sound like a book you'd like? Not to me, eit...more
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Brother's Keeper 1 18 Jul 20, 2010 09:01AM  
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Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising executive.

His latest novel, The Thief of Auschwitz, arrived on January 15, 2013 on his own imprint, unmediated ink. Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg, calls the book "th...more
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“There's nothing else in this world the color of a school bus. They call it yellow but it's not quite yellow, and it's not orange either. I'd say it's something somewhere in between margarine and Velveeta. It's not a natural color. Then again I guess if we wanted kids to grow up natural we wouldn't put them on a school bus in the first place.” 5 likes
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