Nov 27, 11
Read in November, 2011
Either David Guterson is truly improving with age or my taste for his particular brand of narration and subject matter has developed over the past several years. My reaction to his books seems to see-saw and I admit that unlike most of the literary critics who praised SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS as the pinnacle of storytelling, I was not a big fan of this book finding his exploration of racism against Japanese Americans during the early days of WWII ploddingly slow and generally stereotypical. With EAST OF THE MOUNTAIN I was drawn into the spiritual journey of one man facing death and his "healing" impact on the people whose lives he touches. His next two offerings OUR LADY OF THE FOREST and THE OTHER were okay but definitely nothing special. With ED KING, my personal Guterson see-saw is on the move upward again.
Other reviewers have pointed out the obvious connection between ED KING and Oedipus Rex, with Guterson's relocation of this classic Greek tragedy to modern day Seattle and re-birth of Oedipus as Ed, the egotistical maverick tycoon, created by gene splicing Steven Jobs and Bill Gates. Even Ed's company, Pythia, which appears to be based on Google draws its name from the ORACLE of DELPHI.
While Ed's story is interesting, probably the most challenging and complex character in this book is Diane, Ed's wife/mother. She possesses a certain charisma and her character (or lack thereof) truly provides the underlying vibrations and the viscosity that holds this story together. She could very easily be the gal you most love to hate while Ed provides definite proof that he is his mother's son. Both are so filled with pride and arrogance that they definitely lend credence to the theory of heredity and DNA.
Ed King has none of the idealism nor the heroic folk seen in previous Guterson' novels. The fact of the matter is most of this cast is populated by some pretty despicable characters, and while this new take on an old story is not a grand slam home-run, for this reader at least, ED KING does manage to whack out a solid double.