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King: A Street Story

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  151 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
With the poetic acuity that renders his work timeless, Booker Prize-winning author John Berger brings us a 24-hour chronicle of homelessness. Beside a highway, in a wasteland furnished with smashed trucks and broken washing machines, lives a vagrant community of once-hopeful individuals, now abandoned by the twentieth century.

King, our narrator, is the guardian of a homele
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 14th 2000 by Vintage (first published February 1st 1999)
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The Odyssey by HomerThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonHeart of a Dog by Mikhail BulgakovKing by John BergerDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai Gogol
The Guardian's Top Ten Dogs' Stories
4th out of 10 books — 3 voters
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. RowlingThe Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChboskyThe Bad Beginning by Lemony SnicketGirl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy ChevalierSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Best Books of 1999
93rd out of 265 books — 135 voters

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Community Reviews

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Phillip Edwards
John Berger has a sparse, uncomplicated, writing style, and the matter-of-fact way he discloses unexpected details can be devastating. For example, on the second page you are jolted with this:

"A month ago a gang of kids poured petrol over an old man
who was sleeping in a street behind the Central Station
and then they threw a match on to him. He woke up in flames."

The book chronicles the events of a single day in the life of a homeless couple called Vica and Vico, as seen through the eyes of King
Kate B
Apr 08, 2008 Kate B rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Great prose. Great story. From the perspective of a homeless dog.
Sep 27, 2012 Charlie rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
Rating this book caused me a lot of internal conflict. And now here it is with its not-so-fancy two-star rating and you're probably wondering, "Well, Charlie, you obviously weren't impressed, so why the conflict?"

My explanation is this:
Berger is an amazing writer. Some of the lines in this book are so beautifully written that I wish I'd kept King at its original three-star rating. But the problem is that when all was said and done, the quality of the writing didn't knock me over more than the ch
Mar 25, 2016 Wendy rated it it was amazing
For those who've read Pig Earth and Once in Europa, this is a dark extension of the story of Europe's transformation over the course of the 20th century. In his haunting, lyrical way, Berger manages to tell the story of a squatter community on the outskirts of a coastal city from the point of view of a dog. A sad and disturbing story, perhaps even more timely as temporary encampments grow up to house refugees - but, as always, beautifully told.
Michael Brickey
Jul 05, 2010 Michael Brickey rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
From the perspective of a dog, Berger offers a view of the world from the bottom. King, a street dog, has found his home among the marginalized who have built a small makeshift neighborhood in the un-"developed" space adjacent to a freeway. Beyond creating a narrative that focuses mainly on what King sees, hears, and smells along with his daily telepathic conversations with Vica and Vico, his owners so to speak, Berger weaves a pointed criticism of the modern dog-eat-dog society. In this piece o ...more
Dec 25, 2014 Kurtlu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
düğüne kadar olmasa da incelikli, yürek burkan bir hikayesi var. bana trt'nin ömür dediğin programını anımsattı okurken. düşüş, yok oluş, çaresizlik ve pişmanlık gibi yaşlılığa özgü olumsuz duygular iyi ifade edilmiş.
Aug 12, 2008 Jim rated it liked it
My friend Colleen gave this book to me. The narrator, a dog in England, describes his relationships with the people he lives with - a group of homeless folks squatting on land between a motorway and the sea. Very interesting. Memorable line occurs on page 73, when the character Vico, commenting on pillars carved into the likeness of naked women, said, "They were a sign...of a confident civilization which displayed in public art what it liked to enjoy in secret." I thought this book was rich in b ...more
I felt that this book got better towards the end. It took a while for me to feel much connection with the characters, even by the end I felt more of a connection with the concept of their home rather than the people themselves I think. It wasn't necessarily a book that I always wanted to pick up, but there were some lovely poetic paragraphs throughout. The end was both emotive and made me think - both good things!
Jun 30, 2008 Peter rated it liked it
A piece of post-apocalyptic poetry, King gives us a glimpse into the souls of shanty-town dwellers and their tugs of war between what they once savored and what they now endure. Narrated by a dog, King peels away artifice to serve us the heart of Saint-Valery's denizens.
Aug 16, 2009 Kirstie rated it really liked it
A fascinating on the street from the perspective of a dog. He is in his own way a literary version of a street photographer...a well written adventure and a different take on life.
Feb 05, 2008 Laura rated it liked it
Recommends it for: blokes and cheeky monkeys
Dog poetry. If I liked poetry I would probably like this book whole lot more. Although it's fun to imagine a dog with a british accent.
Feb 25, 2009 Lynne added it
About a homeless camp in some European city, possibly Lisbon, told from the point of view of a dog. Great dog!
Aug 31, 2009 Jess rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible. After 115 pages, I was still waiting for something interesting to happen. Couldn't finish it.
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John Peter Berger is an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a college text.

Later he was self exiled to continental Europe, living between the french Alps in summer and the suburbs of Paris in winter. Since then, his production has increa
More about John Berger...

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