Coy's Reviews > All the King's Men

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
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May 04, 08

Recommended to Coy by: Angela
Read in April, 2008

I can understand why people call this a classic. It sort of reminds me of the Great Gatsby, one of my favorite novels. I can also hear the narration at the end. It's deep, nostalgic, matter of fact and meloncholy-- like saying goodbye. That reminds me of A River Runs Through It. After all is said and done, however, I can't say that All the Kings Men, to me, was as good as a River Runs Through It or Gatsby.

This I write much to the dismay of my girlfriend, who not only loves All the King's Men, but thinks I'm an idiot for not loving it. (It's like badmouthing a good friend of hers. That's a good, Jack-like analogy.) Well, I like the book and do understand why she and many others love it. The characters were complex, but well-explained. Willie was a charasimatic figure. The scenes were vivid and Jack's deliberations were thorough. Therein lies my main problem with the book. It's kind of like a double-stuffed Oreo. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. The analogies and philosophical wanderings were good up to a point, but after a while I just wanted him to get back to the story.

Another central detraction for me was that even though the characters were interesting, I didn't really root for any of them. (The judge was kind of cool though.)

The characters were interesting, the story was interesting and even the way it was told, some of the meditations were good, but they got a bit old and overdone after a while. At times he sounded like a less-flowery Dickens. Dickens was paid by the word. Maybe Warren was too.

This site is goodreads. All the King's Men is worthy of that name. If the site was called bestreads then that might be a little different.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Angela An idiot? Well now, idiot might be too strong. Sadly misguided? Just kidding. All of your criticisms are right on the money. He is self-indulgently long-winded. But if there's one thing, only one thing, that I really, really, really like about a book then I can forgive just about everything else. And there's one paragraph near the end of the book that I really, really, really like. I'd have to find it. The point of the paragraph, though, is that even though no one is all good (like the Judge seemed to some) or all bad (like Willie seemed to others), you still don't get to just give up on trying as hard as you can to be all good. I liked that a lot. That's why -- even though all your other complaints are completely justified -- it still gets five stars from me.


Julie It reminded me of Dickens, too with the long long paragraphs and lack of dialogue. Yes it's deep and poetic writing but there was just a bit too much for me.


Cary It's a common and oft-repeated, but slight misconception to say Dickens was paid by the word. Yes, he wrote and published his novels in serial format, but he was the editor of those journals. To write too many words might alienate his readers and sometimes did. He had to find a balance and cliffhangers to keep them coming back for more. After his earliest works such as Pickwick Papers were published by others, he was paying himself for later popular works such as Great Expectations which he edited and published in All the Year Round.


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