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Killer Diller

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"Wonderful...Clyde Edgerton tells us another of his lovely tall tales."


Listre, North Carolina, is jumping. The Sears twins, Ted and Ned, who run a Baptist college, have opened Nutrition House for overweight Christians. Meanwhile their Project Promise is busy matching the educationally disadvantaged with wayward youth who want to share their talents. Enter Wesley Benfield, a prime candidate for Project Promise, with a special place in his heart for Baptist songwriting, preaching, and a wide, iron-pumping girl over at the Nutrition House. The Lord only knows where Wesley will go from here....

272 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1991

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About the author

Clyde Edgerton

35 books246 followers
Clyde Edgerton is widely considered one of the premier novelists working in the Southern tradition today, often compared with such masters as Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor.

Although most of his books deal with adult concerns--marriage, aging, birth and death--Edgerton's work is most profoundly about family. In books such as Raney, Walking Across Egypt, The Floatplane Notebooks, and Killer Diller, Edgerton explores the dimensions of family life, using an endearing (if eccentric) cast of characters. "Edgerton's characters," writes Mary Lystad in Twentieth-Century Young Adult Writers, "have more faults than most, but they also have considerable virtues, and they are so likable that you want to invite them over for a cup of coffee, a piece of homemade apple pie, and a nice long chat."

Raised in the small towns of the North Carolina Piedmont, Edgerton draws heavily on the storytelling traditions of the rural south in his novels. Without the distractions of big-city life and the communications revolution of the late twentieth century, many rural Americans stayed in close touch with their relatives, and often shared stories about family members with each other for entertainment.

Among Edgerton’s awards are: Guggenheim Fellowship; Lyndhurst Prize; Honorary Doctorates from UNC-Asheville and St. Andrews Presbyterian College; membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers; the North Carolina Award for Literature; and five notable book awards from the New York Times.

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5 stars
123 (14%)
4 stars
312 (37%)
3 stars
306 (37%)
2 stars
70 (8%)
1 star
14 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 51 reviews
Profile Image for Terry.
298 reviews66 followers
July 9, 2022
It is sometimes unfortunate to compare a book you really enjoyed to the next in the series, because when is a sequel ever as good as the first? Oh, I know there are some exceptions, but in this case the rule prevails.

The misadventures of Wesley Benfield continue from Walking across Egypt, and he is the prime character in this novel, continuing to make bad decisions despite good advice from Mattie Rigsby. She makes some supporting role appearances, but too few for me. The one sometimes endearing thing about Wesley is how he tries to teach and Vernon, a mentally challenged young man. But I grew tired of the novel towards the end, and then, I didn’t care for the ending, which I found confusing.

Profile Image for Linda.
244 reviews1 follower
October 28, 2016
I gave this 5 stars because it was a fun read and not because it's great literature. Wesley is naive, well-meaning, and exhibits a folksy type of wisdom. The hook for me to read this story was the storyline about a Baptist college having a program for overweight Christians and at the same time running another program to match workers with former inmates.

Something that stuck with me was Wesley's notion of the shallow voice and the deep voice in Chapter 12: "You get the deep voice from somewhere saying you ain't supposed to do something, then you get this little shallow voice telling you it's okay."

The ending was abrupt and confusing with the dream interwoven with the reality.
Profile Image for Angela.
87 reviews15 followers
June 4, 2009
I enjoyed this book up until the end. It was an enduring, funny story with previous characters "Grandma" & Wesley returning. However I was disappointed with the ending. I found it left me with many unanswered questions. It just felt incomplete. Kind of like Edgerton forgot to write an ending. Just no closure.
Profile Image for Vannessa Anderson.
Author 1 book172 followers
April 23, 2017
Killer Diller is a charming story about juvenile delinquents who receive acclaim through the band they create. What I liked about the story is the acceptance of their piano player who’s an autistic savant. It was nice reading a story about teens with a heart.
Profile Image for Jeff.
49 reviews5 followers
April 24, 2008
This story was based on my alma mater. Classic stuff if you know the University.
Profile Image for Shelley.
988 reviews
July 19, 2019
I did not read, Walking Across Egypt. Killer Diller is book #2 in the series. I noticed while I was reading that there must had been a first book, but I didn't feel like I couldn't understand what had already taken place, as situations were explained well.

Wesley is the main character. He got into some trouble in the first book, and is currently living in a half way house in this book. He is a Christian, plays in a band, is a brick layer, has a crush on the Dean of the Christian Baptist College daughter, who is in the Nutrition House program (also set up by the Baptist College - brother's Ted and Ned Sears owns both) for overweight Christians. He reads the Bible and he has some legit questions when he's reading the Bible, that when he voices it, everyone seems to brush him off and tell him to look elsewhere for the more "wholesome" stories. Wesley had a lot of valid questions that I would also like for someone to explain to me.

Killer Diller was written in 1991, making the book dated, and at times it really showed in the language, and choice of words people used back then. It seems unreal that only a short 28 years ago people were using such derogatory words such as, "mentally retarded", "honky", that black men and women were serving dinner, and when it wasn't known if the newly man hired on the board was widowed or divorced and Ned or was it Ted (?) was alarmed about it until he found out that, wipe his forehead, he was widowed.

I found one particularly scene absolutely hilarious, near the ending of the story. The luncheon with Wesley's band, the retirement home residents, Santa Claus, the press, and the Baptist Board.... I found myself giggling out loud at the chaos, how everything was messing up, and when everything was going wrong.

The ending was weird, and I was left rereading it as it didn't feel like it was a completion to the book; it didn't jive with the rest of the story and I felt like we were left hanging without knowing an ending.

Profile Image for Giorgi Baskhajauri.
127 reviews22 followers
September 20, 2017
რელიგიური აკრძალვების პირობებში მცხოვრები ახალგაზრდების ძიება პასუხების მიღებისკენ და სქესობრივ თუ რელიგიურ საკითხებში გარკვევის მცდელობა,შეიძლება საინტერესო იყოს, მაგრამ ჩემთვის უკვე აღარ იყო აქტუალური. ზოგჯერ ძალიან სასაცილოა, ზოგჯერ მტკივნეული, ავტორი ძალიან დახვეწილად თამაშობს მკითხველის ემოციებზე, პირადად ჩემთვის ერთიანობაში მაინც დაკარგული დრო იყო.
Profile Image for Patrick Barry.
942 reviews7 followers
April 18, 2019
This book features the continuing adventures of Wesley Benfield who previously appeared in Walking Across Egypt. In this book Wesley finds love and forms a Baptist song singing rock band with fellow inmates at a halfway house. Filled with Edgerton's gentle Southern humor, you will understand Wesley better if you read Walking Across Egypt first.
Profile Image for Cy.
39 reviews
March 6, 2018
For every breathtaking passage about humanity, there is a clumsy passage about human behavior, especially by those who are not the main character. It is a novel of great emotion but hamfisted plotting that sells its heartfelt characters short.
453 reviews
November 27, 2021
Wesley, the orphan boy from Walking Across Egypt, and Mattie, the elderly woman who took him in are back again is this funny story that involves a local Baptist college and its efforts to gain good publicity. Lots of laughs, but the ending is a bit weak it seems to me.
Profile Image for Linda Rowland.
464 reviews53 followers
June 8, 2017
Revisiting some friends from another of his books. Enjoyed this one.
Profile Image for Lawanda.
1,848 reviews5 followers
July 17, 2019
Audiobook performed by Norman Dietz. A great satire by one of my favorite writers.
2,414 reviews
January 23, 2021
This was a hard book to get through. I liked some other of Edgerton's much more.
Profile Image for Dani Shirilla.
88 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2023
Interesting message but the way it’s written probably isn’t digestible to those who need to hear it
Profile Image for Gregory.
203 reviews14 followers
June 26, 2022
To date, I’ve enjoyed most of Edgerton’s novels, but reading this one in 2022 had a few cringe-worthy moments. Killer Diller attempts to pick up where Walking Across Egypt left off, and while it’s wonderful to see Wesley and Mattie again, the over-arching plot that attempts to bring all the new characters together left me wanting. Maybe the trouble is that any attempt at satirizing Christian higher education is always going to fall short of what we eventually read in today’s headlines (see: Jerry Falwell, Jr). Still, you can’t help rooting for Edgerton’s underdogs.
Profile Image for Richard B.
449 reviews
February 18, 2013
My first exposure to Clyde Edgerton and I'll definitely be back for more. Set at around a Baptist College in Summerlin, NC, this small but darkly hilarious book tells the story of a young man trying to do the right thing in life and the interesting cast of friends he surrounds himself with. Edgerton a NC native captures the area perfectly in all it's goodness and badness.I honestly can't say too much more without spoiling the story but it is an enjoyable and page turning read.
Profile Image for Sally Moore.
9 reviews1 follower
June 7, 2014
What I love about Edgerton's writing is his ability to describe what his characters are thinking in the littlest ways. His characters are real. They are trying to do the best they can. The humor comes from the realistic collision between the character and his world. Walking Across Egypt is still my favorite of his books. I did not pick up on this being a sequel like other reviewers have mentioned. This is a nice, light read which I enjoyed.
3,792 reviews78 followers
November 7, 2014
Killer Diller by Clyde Egerton (Ballantine 1981) (Fiction – Mystery). This is set in the small fictional town of Lister, North Carolina. The brothers who run the Baptist College have just opened a Christian weight loss center called “Redemption House” before the business plan was so rudely interrupted. My rating: 7/10, finished 1984.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
268 reviews
December 27, 2014
I usually really like this author's books. This one was a little different. I couldn't get into the plot and the characters were too simplistic and one dimensional. Previous books included some humor, especially with some of his older characters. There is an older character in this book, but she did not play a very big part in the plot.
Profile Image for Ron.
2,175 reviews8 followers
February 6, 2016
I actually listened to this as an audio book. It is the story of a boy who is in a half-way house as he tries to get back into society. He works at the local Baptist college and is in a band. It tells of the various people (the other band members, people at the college, his girl friend, etc.) that he meets as he goes through life.
Profile Image for Karen.
203 reviews6 followers
July 20, 2009
Not as good as "Walking Across Egypt" but it was good to find out what happened to Wesley Benton and Miss Maddie. Edgerton sure has a knack for writing physical comedy--I was laughing at the scene of 80+ yr old Miss Maddie swinging on the screen door to her porch in her bare feet.
Profile Image for Lauren Denton.
Author 7 books1,898 followers
March 4, 2011
This book is not really a sequel, but it continues the story of two of the characters from Clyde Edgerton's earlier Walking Across Egypt, which I loved. If you like Southern fiction, read these books. His characters are so real and funny. I laughed out loud a lot in both books.
Profile Image for Chris.
241 reviews
December 28, 2012
A fave — better than his 'Walking to Egypt.' A big rackety cast of misfits find each other and end up forming a band. Music is a redeeming force. Several characters lead lives of uncomplaining sacrifice, which deepens the moral tone.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pam Stackhouse.
82 reviews5 followers
January 29, 2013
A fun, light read, written by an excellent storyteller. A good book to read if you need to smile. I felt like I was sitting with my Grandpa, listening to him spin a yarn. Edgerton did a great job of creating fun characters without making fun of them. Well, without making fun of the good ones.
Profile Image for Heather.
986 reviews
March 4, 2015
I was really looking forward to seeing what happened to the characters from Walking Across Egypt. However, this book ended up seeming just a bit too strange. I have mixed feelings about this one!

Profile Image for Amy.
Author 2 books153 followers
January 16, 2009
Not my favorite Clyde Edgerton, but it'll do. He does have a knack for getting a certain segment of society down just right.
Profile Image for Sandie.
509 reviews12 followers
Want to read
April 17, 2014
Just getting into this book and trying this writer out for the first time. It has not been hysterical so far but its not bad either.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 51 reviews

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