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King of the Hill: A Memoir

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  20 reviews
King of the Hill is the emotionally powerful story of a 12-year-old boy coping with the hardships of life in St. Louis in the summer of 1933.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 1993 by Harpercollins (first published January 1st 1960)
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Don Rea
I'm not sure I can actually vouch for my rating. This was the first adult novel I ever read that wasn't some genre trash or other, and so it was the first book that opened my eyes to why people might get so worked up about literature. I've re-read it several times (the date shown is the first time I read it in the summer between 7th and 8th grades), but I can never separate it from the awe of that awakening.
Lori Galaske
Being familiar with the setting and growing up in south St. Louis with parents, aunts, and uncles who were close in age to Mr. Hotchner (and who told stories about their childhoods) made this memoir all the more enjoyable. The harsh realities of life during the depression are overshadowed by humor and the thought-life of a twelve year old boy.
One of my favorite books of all time.
As a St. Louis city transplant, I found this book truly fascinating. Though the story was excellent and the characters were so real they broke my heart (Creve Coeur), I could help but read this as some historical study on the poverty lines in the city, lines that have not really changed over the past 80 years. I have lived in A Hotchner's neighborhoods and roamed through his schools. I wonder if that much has changed. Kids are still hungry in that part of the city and East St Louis still looks l ...more
Having been a fan of the movie for many years now, and stumbling upon a paperback of this at The Archive on their penultimate day of being open, I had to snag it. And I'm glad I did!

I thought it would be of interest mostly or merely as a specifically Saint-Louis thing, but it didn't hit you over the head too much with locations and sights to be seen in 1930s Saint Louis or anything, in spite of what some other reviewers have said. Yes, street names and intersections and the like are offered, but
Richard Jespers
I love this book. It has so much more content than the 1993 film of same title although director Steven Soderberg probably puts together the best events/images into the film and threads them into a subtly insistent plot.

The book is a memoir and as such is not plot driven. Interesting diction; though the prose is third person retrospective, Hotchner uses a twelve year-old’s speech: “Me and Lester did such and such.” It seems to work, taking the reader back to 1933.
Rhonda Rae Baker
This was a quick read but powerful in meaning and character.

The family went through so much but it was the determination and resilience of the young boy that made the story! Through many hardships, he still maintained his spirit.

I've seen many go through hard times and some become stronger while others become perpetual's interesting. We can survive many circumstances that come our way and the secret to most of this is to maintain integrity...karma comes around.

My mother spoke of tim
I enjoyed this acccount of Depression-era St. Louis. In 1933, the adolescent Aaron Hotchner lived in the Avalon Hotel at Delmar and Kingshighway, and he walked streets whose names I recognize. His consumptive mother ends up in a sanatorium, his father out on the road hawking watches with little success, but Aaron perseveres and tells his tale in a voice reminiscent of Huck Finn's. It seems to me that, as Huck might put it, this is mainly a true book, with some stretchers. It's funny, episodic, a ...more
Ron Palmer
Steven Soderbergh's excellent 1993 movie led me to the original source: a memoir of growing-up broke in 1930s St. Louis. What sets this apart from memoirs of a more recent vintage (This Boy's Life; Liar's Club) is the vernacular: the expressive, archaic way people talked in 1930s America, with its colorful slang and popular-culture references that are fast-becoming lost to history.

The book also gives you a clear sense of what hardship was truly like for much of this country's population during t
People who think they have it bad now should all read this book to get a taste of what a really bad time is. Set in the Depression the book tells the story of a family living in one room in a run down hotel from the point of view of a 12 year old boy. With a sick mother, a brother who is left with relatives in Iowa and a father who mostly lives on hopes this kid has more sense than most adults today. I live in St. Louis so that made the story even more interesting to me. A pretty accurate descri ...more
Brenda Cregor
After reading this novel, I feel like I had the EASIEST adolescence EVER!

KING OF THE HILL is set in 1933---a time of economic devastation in the U-S-of-A.

If you've read A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, this novel has many of the same challenges of childhood during the Great Depression: death, depravation, depravity, etc. It does not take place during a long span of time, and there is definitely more humor.

More books like this need to be read in our public schools. I think Generation X-Y-Z-it's-all-abou
Nov 03, 2010 Jobie added it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Not a bad read, but just didn't grab my attention like I thought it would. Maybe if I had some connection to St. Louis, or to Hotchner (other than realizing he's partnered in "Newman's Own," brand.) I thought it would be a nice gesture, so I tried to read it for my friend Carol, to see if she might like it with her recent move to the city. Sorry Carol, can't recommend it... but again, maybe you'll recognize locales in the book.
One of my long time favorites. Ive read this book so many times i have needed numerous copies of it. I love how real it is and how it tells you exactly how it was. There is one part where he tells half a story and never finishes it. And you have to assume its because he never learned the whole truth himself. It really gives you a young persons view of what it was like during the depression and you cant help but love the author.
Oct 14, 2008 Margy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys excellent writing
Perfection, nothing less. The voice of an 11 year old boy is so authentic for that time. A boy left to fend for himself in the one hotel room while his parents were absent for several months was only part of the set-up. The drama, tragedy, and humor held me from page one to the reluctant end. I was the reluctant one. Cannot wait to read more of this fine writer's work.
I read a lot of memoirs and this is one of the better ones. An easy-going prose that doesn't get bogged down in think-talk. Lots of action, great characterization, and just enough self-awareness to turn this into a great little memoir.
A memoir of the author's childhood in St. Louis during the Depression. I liked reading about local places, and Hotchner has a wonderful style of prose that is easy to read.
My husband's grandfather wanted me to read this book because he said it was such a close and accurate description of his life growing up. Sad and powerful.
Susan Hyde
A poignant yet funny memoir of a 12 year old during the depths of the depression in St. Louis. You have to read it to believe it!
Much like Angela's Ashes but not as depressing. Set in St Louis during the depression
betsy kiss
definitive jr. high reading #2.
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A. E. Hotchner is the author of many books and plays. He graduated from Washington University Law School in 1941, practiced law briefly, then served in the Air Force as a military journalist. After his stint in the armed forces, Hotchner met Ernest Hemingway, and the two spent the next 14 years as close friends. Hotchner is best known for Papa Hemingway, his 1966 biography of Ernest Hemingway, who ...more
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