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The Secrets of a Fire King: Stories

3.43  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,641 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
The characters in these stories are often separated from the mainstream - a juggler and a trapeze artist, a daughter whose mother is a public evangelist waging a wear against sin, a cleaning woman whose life is inexplicably tied to Marie Curie's. The stories they inhabit transcend the barriers of time to explore the universally driving force of our experience: the magnitud ...more
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published December 2nd 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1997)
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Aug 26, 2011 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Tara
I can't remember when I first heard that a story should engage the reader in a 'suspension of disbelief,' and I can't remember the last time I read a collection of stories that fits this idea so well -- not because unusual things happen, but because the writing drew me in so fully that the experience of reading it felt dream-like. Each story is a fully-realized world unto itself, a perfect little capsule.

One story nailed so well for me how it felt to be a teenager in the 70's that I wasn't surpr
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 02, 2014 K.D. Absolutely rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Teresa Brader
Fourteen unforgettable stories of strong female characters. Flawless storytelling.

My first time to read a book by Kim Edwards. I did not read her The Memory Keeper's Daughter. The reason why I bought and read this book was the multiple recommendations I got from my friends, Teresa, Tara, and Joan Winnek who all rated this book with 5 stars.

That was in 2011. I actually bought this that year and read the first story, The Great Chain of Being. I thought it was good although a bit old-fashioned. It
Jul 29, 2011 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those special surprises I found in a remainder bin, of all places. This will go down as another "best of" story collection for me. I went and looked at other reviews and was shocked at the low ratings it got. I can only imagine that the readers who read her more popular fiction in The Memory Keeper's Daughter were lost within her more literary stories. I did not read MKD, so can't comment, but that's the only reason that can account for the angry one stars.

Edwards is extremely ade
Aug 21, 2008 Geekwif rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book. But I really didn't. I picked it up because I had read The Memory Keeper's Daughter and wanted to read something else by the same author. The first few stories in the collection were okay, not great, but then I started to notice a pattern in the author's writing: the men were all villains and the women were all victims, which is not a flattering portrayal for either sex. I read about half of the stories and then finally gave up.
Aug 11, 2012 Xian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are books that have substance, and there are books that are pure style. Not that there's anything wrong with style: see this short piece about Joyce and the "New-Agey claptrap" Paulo Coelho churns out.

But, it is exceedingly difficult to write a readable book that is pure style with, at the heart of it, very little substance. Edwards tries, and the result is a collection of short stories (fictional vignettes really) that falls far short of her debut novel, The Memory Keeper's daughter. The
Nov 11, 2009 Nancy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bhargavi Balachandran
A beautifully written book! Kim is a master at weaving strange ,unsettling tales alive with emotions.Most of the protagonists are women. The first few stories seemed similar, with common themes of death, redemption and loneliness. But as I read on , I felt that that stories kept getting better and better. A thin chord of melancholy runs through the stories ,but Kim's prowess with words helps one brush away the sadness in the stories and plough right on. I haven't read a better collection of stor ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

While this isn't the highest rating, this book was hard to rate, because it is a collection of short stories. My two favorites were "The Way it Felt to be Falling" and "The Story of my Life"

I really loved Kim Edward's writing style, so I am excited to read more of her books in the future. The rating of this book was brought down by the stories that I didn't enjoy. A lot of them were very boring, or confusing to me. My Least favorites were "Gold", "Aristotle's Lantern", and the first one which
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This was mentioned somewhere and I had to request it interlibrary loan to read it, since it is out of print. The stories were original. My favorite was The Invitation, about a woman living in a foreign country for 30 years and still living as an outsider.
Joan Winnek
Sep 23, 2011 Joan Winnek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of short stories
Recommended to Joan by: Teresa
This is one of the best short story collections I have ever read. Many thanks to Teresa for her excellent review.
Jason (RawBlurb)
I am not one who normally invests time in short stories. It is not that I dislike them, more that I find them unsatisfying. I get involved and dedicated to an idea and find it cut short. This is expected as it is the intent of the medium.

A result of this is that I either avoid them completely, or read them, and feel that my opinion is not a fair reflection of the work. So I rarely write reviews of collections like this.

This stated, Kim Edwards’ collection of shorts ‘The Secrets of a Fire King’ w
The Secrets of a Fire King is one of 14 well crafted stories told with brisk assurance,mostly from a first person perspective.Despite a uniformity of length and style and definate thematic similarities, all of the stories describe wildly different and unusual circumstances.Edwards skill is relentless as she catapults the reader into each scenario.Somehow we are immediately immersed in the commonplace of the bizarre situations articulated with such bland confidence that we can hardly challenge th ...more
I was excited to get three stories into the book and still be looking forward to what came next. Usually books of short stories start off well and then morph into mediocre disappointments for me. I loved and appreciated every story but one (only because I have a personal hatred for stories about couples who see the significant other cheating and say nothing-I can't even begin to relate to that). My very favorite was "Thirst", which reminds me of The Little Mermaid. I'm not sure if the main chara ...more
As with most every short story collection (save Hempel, Cheever, Munro, and Robison) waffled about how many stars to give this. Some of the stories are utterly superb (and so worthy of five stars), and a few others are merely good (three, maybe), so we'll average 'em.

There's a thoroughness to the evocation of women and of the world that I admire enormously and that times tried my patience (I like swifter voices). Really notable, though, for the wide range of these stories, and for their insiste
Hershey Go
Jul 24, 2012 Hershey Go rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i was quite wary of picking this book up. but later i realized that it was worth it. The stories inside are short but full of meaning. THey are written beautifully and each story doesn't really have an ending--it's up to you to conclude, or end, with your own imagination. While reading this book I felt like i was apart from reality--such was the beauty of the way it was written. The author, Kim Edwards, knows how keep her reader interested and usually throws endings that makes you wonder on life ...more
Melissa Stacy
A fascinating collection of short stories published in 1997. These stories are very different from a lot of award-winning "post-postmodern" contemporary short fiction in that they are all straightforward to read, and all of these stories contain plot. Yes, you heard that correctly-- these short stories have actual PLOTS in them. And they aren't at all difficult to read. (!!!) I was amazed!! These stories are truly a delight!

"A Gleaming in the Darkness" stars Marie Curie, a gorgeous tale. "Balan
Beautiful imagery, clean writing, and well crafted plots mark this collection of short stories. However, the writing is at times so clinical and cool that I felt too removed from the characters, and some of the stories left me emotionally unsatisfied. I would recommend it to read once and also as a tool to learn elements of the craft of writing, but it's not a book you could revisit often. The only story that really resonated with me was "The Way It Felt To be Falling"
Devin Vanderpool
Many of the stories in this collection are fantastic. Kim Edwards is definitely a very talented writer. My favorite story was "Thirst" about a woman of the sea (a mermaid, I hope)? I enjoyed her other work The Memory Keeper's Daughter very much.

But I finished this collection feeling...attacked. She is obviously very disillusioned with religion, particularly Christianity, and she used this collection of stories to vent her hatred. As a Christian, I know that the path of Christianity is far from
An Odd1
Sep 16, 2014 An Odd1 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1 The Great Chain of Being
Narrator Eshlaini, seventh of thirteen "the first girl" p 2. Her father calls all children by other names, her Rohila, for an insane grandmother, so he can reject suitors, keep her home to care for him. In compensation, she asks him to put in writing his gift of this small house and property. She forces him to apologize when he is dying, in his eighties. The property has escalated in value, but she rejects her brothers' attempts get the land back. She calls herself Eshl
Banafsheh Serov
I dislike short stories. They either finish too quickly or end abruptly, giving the impression of being abandoned half way through.
The standout story in this collection is the one about Mde Curie, which is close to the most perfect short story I've read. The rest meandered between okay & yawn (or maybe meh).
Not every one of the stories captivated me but the prose was definitely a great strength of this book. Might very well check out the author's novels because the storytelling and the imagery was flawless.
Sep 01, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of short stories to begin with but these were extremely well written, unique and thought provoking. Loved it.
Lestari Hairul
Nov 15, 2014 Lestari Hairul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what the fuck the rest of the reviewers are on but this is a really well-written collection of short stories. The author has even managed to, quite impressively, capture the nuances of each different culture she uses as a setting. Quite chuffed too that Malay culture is represented; none are exoticised, the glaring ugliness and beauty are both shown unflinchingly. I like the strange dreaminess of a lot of them. If you want straightforward fiction with happy endings and satisfying co ...more
Jun 15, 2009 Celine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advisory-9th
The Secrets of a Fire King
By Kim Edwards
255pp New York, New York
Penguin Group (USA) inc. $14.00
ISBN: 978-0-14-311230-3

The Secrets of a Fire King is a wonderful collection of short stories portraying the lives of people who you don’t find in New York City today. There are stories about difference, family problems, and relationships. You will find yourself feeling bad for the people who suffer and feeling happy for the people who are finally free of conflict. You will surely find yourself engaged
Megan Anderson
This is a book of short stories. Some of them are amazing, some of them not so much. Still worth reading cover to cover.

This was the only book that I got to from the stacks in September (I’m reading through all of our color-coded book stacks one color at a time).

The stories are incredibly varied. The characters range over many cultures, age ranges, and are of both genders. Edwards must have a deep understanding of human nature to make such a diverse character list believable. The stories focus o
Min Yee
This book contains of fourteen different stories. Each story contains an eccentric character and most of the stories are very random. Sometimes, I don’t really understand what is the main idea that the author wants to tell to the readers. The stories were written in simple English with complicated plots. Some of the random stories are such as rats, birthday invitation, parachute, gold digging, and garden.

I feel none of the stories are interesting and I don’t understand what is the conclusion of
Nov 06, 2011 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Before The Memory Keepers Daughter skyrocketed up the best-seller list, author Kim Edwards wrote another book, a collection of short stories.

We all know how much I love a good short story collection, and since I adored The Memory Keepers Daughter, I was interested in reading this one. I was even more interested when I spotted the audio at the library.

Before I start with the commentary, I gotta say something about that cover.

It kind of creeps me out, if I do say so myself. It's too ... embryot
Sarah Sammis
I think my enjoyment of The Memory Keeper's Daughter was a fluke. I found The Secrets of a Fire King, a collection of short stories by Kim Edwards a chore to read.

The short story collection has fourteen short stories. They are set in very different places and in very different eras. They all focus around a supposedly strong female narrator who must prove herself during impossible situations. With the exception of "Spring, Mountain, Sea" and "A Gleaming in the Darkness" I didn't like the stories,
Kathy Sebesta
Mar 10, 2016 Kathy Sebesta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an older book (1998), and as I was reading it I kept feeling the style was familiar tho I couldn't figure out why. Several stories in the author's name hit, and I realised she had written Memory Keeper's Daughter, which I'd really liked.

The stories in this collection are well crafted and often set in some exotic clime which is never identified. My favorite was the first, The great chain of being but they're all worth spending time with.
Feb 21, 2016 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a huge fan of short stories. I really liked The Great Chain of Being, although I think it would have made a better novel rather than a short story. I also really liked The Invitation, about a well-to-do older woman, who was the first wife to move to an American community in Malaysia. Since she has been there for 30 years, she sees herself as an expert on the area, and she condescendingly helps to acclimate new wives moving in. She imagines that she is the envy of the town. As the story u ...more
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Kim Edwards grew up in Skaneateles, New York, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. The oldest of four children, she graduated from Colgate University and the University of Iowa, where she received an MFA in Fiction and an MA in Linguistics. After completing her graduate work, she went with her husband to Asia, where they spent the next five years teaching, first on the rural east coast of Mala ...more
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“I imagine that she flushes, seeing him there, for she is at that age when even the most commonplace boys take on a sense of mystery. And this boy is not ordinary. He is wild and he has strange and fanciful perceptions. [p. 153]” 1 likes
“The year was 1922, and the Curies had transformed plain earth into something rare and unimagined. A secret of the universe has been revealed, and a restless world dreamed of transformation. [p. 205]” 1 likes
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