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The Secrets Of A Fire King

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3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,817 Ratings  ·  320 Reviews
In each of these elegant and mesmerizing stories, Kim Edwards explores the lives of those who exist on the fringes of society--a fire-eater, an American and his Korean war bride, a juggler and a trapeze artist. Spanning several generations and transporting us to exotic locations in Europe, Asia, and America, this wise and exquisite story collection marks the debut of a gif ...more
Published (first published 1997)
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Teresa
Aug 20, 2011 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
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 01, 2011 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
...more
Tara
Jul 15, 2011 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
...more
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
Geekwif
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.
Tita
May 02, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meus, livros-2010, _d_
Este é o tal livro que vinha no pack dos “Segredos de Família” que li anteriormente.

É um livro com 14 contos, sobre pessoas comuns em diversas partes do mundo, sobre diversos temas comuns. No entanto, o livro não me conseguiu agarrar e excluindo um ou outro conto que consegui gostar, ler a grande maioria deles foi algo que não me deu prazer.
Foi uma leitura algo custosa que nem sei o que dizer sobre o livro =(
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
Aug 27, 2011 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.
Nancy
Sep 24, 2008 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.
Jennifer
Dec 23, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5

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
...more
Anya Nardone
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book because it is different from what I typically read. It is centered more around short stories rather than one long story. "The Secrets of a Fire King" involves thirteen short stories that are each impressive, but somewhat creepy. They are almost like fables, each having a lesson to learn from. Although they require a lot of interpretation because things are often alluded to or hinted at with underlying meanings. My favorite of all the stories was number three, "A Gleaming in the ...more
Jason Brown (Toastx2)
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
...more
Magdelanye
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
Xian
Aug 11, 2012 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
...more
Laura
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
Michael
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
...more
Hershey Go
Jul 24, 2012 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
Mandybono
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"
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).
Audrey-anne
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.
Elizabeth
Sep 01, 2011 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.
Trisha Traughber
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is an excellent collection of short stories. Kim Edwards will keep you guessing! And her stories will take you all over the world. You'll love (and sometimes hate) her characters. Her writing is so beautiful-she can deliver amazing images with just a few words.

If you love reading beautifully written stories that will make you think, you should check these out.

If you are a non-native speaker of English developing your book habit, this is a good book for you if you want to challenge yoursel
...more
Victor Davis
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
This is exactly the kind of book I enjoy. It follows the tradition of other favorite collections like The Shell Collector and Ship Fever: Stories. Imagine the cleaning lady at Marie Curie's laboratory, who at night marveled at the glass jars of faintly bluish glowing "dirt," with mangled, cancerous hands on her deathbed from picking them up out of wonder and curiosity. Imagine a mother who, tired of her marriage and family, drinks seawater ravenously, to the detriment of her health, because she ...more
Randy Johnson
This is really a wonderful book - well written, perceptive, moving... But I just couldn't get on the author's wavelength. I could tell she was doing good work, I could see the emotional power in the structure of her tales, but it just wasn't working for me. Abandoned after the second story.

Worth noting: as always, I was listening to an audio version of the book, and I really hated the narrator. Would a different voice/tone have made a meaningful difference? Maybe.
Brandon O'Neill
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved The Memory Keeper's Daughter, yet had never read anything else written by Kim Edwards. I set out to change that with a book of her short stories. The stories are all varied and to me range from good to great. Don't remember actively disliking anything and the writing - different situations, cultures and people, is all of a high caliber.
Ciara Ní Raifeartaigh
A truly gorgeous anthology of short stories with a number of themes, from science to childhood innocence to fantasy, across different time periods and very different places. You feel for the characters and get a sense of the settings, whether Southeast Asia or middle America, very easily. I didn’t want it to end.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
Engrossing, polished, and oftentimes quite moving. My favorite story--the one I find most memorable--is the same as everyone else's. "Spring, Mountain, Sea" is just gorgeous. Haunting. Sad.
Eric
Nov 08, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Compilation of short stories dark and grim. Got taken aback by the bitterness of most stories and couldn't continue before I put it down and take a long rest.
Carol Waters
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were some five star stories in here and some threes. There are some characters I will remember forever.
Carol
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this collection of short stories. Each one a gem, an elegant surprise.
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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
More about Kim Edwards...
“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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