Charlie's Reviews > King: A Street Story

King by John Berger
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's review
Sep 27, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: own
Read from September 22 to 26, 2012

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 characters disinterested me.

JB gives us a handful of vagrants and tells us of their life from the perspective of a dog. Well, I'm a cat person, so shame on me and shame on Berger for not catering to that side of me. Additionally, we're given these characters who are sad and forgotten by society and the truth is that I WANT to want to care about them and I don't. The majority of the characters are mentioned in the first chapter and that not really handled again until the end. King is dog, albeit a gracefully spoken and intelligent dog, but therein lies the problem: by being a dog, he in fact lacks humanity. And his owners, Vico and Vica are... what are they? Forgettable. Yes, they're homeless. Yes, that's a shame. But give me something to grasp here other than a throw away reference to not having had fire insurance and one of the character's real names from his past life.

Yes, the characters are insightful and well-spoken. Yes, if I was rating this book based on JB's writing alone, I'd probably give it a three (maybe a four, the guy's got a knack). But, in the end, when I'm left feeling like the book I've just read was an unentertaining mess of characters I didn't care for in a situation I couldn't (and hopefully never will have to) relate to, this book has earned two stars, no more, no less.
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