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The Dart League King: A Novel
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The Dart League King: A Novel

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  488 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
An intriguing tale of darts, drugs, and death. Russell Harmon is the self-proclaimed king of his small-town Idaho dart league, but all is not well in his kingdom. In the midst of the league championship match, the intertwining stories of those gathered at
ebook, 210 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Tin House Books
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I cannot recommend this novel enough. It’s a story that is equal parts hopeful and tragic, full of love and despair, longing and hate, and with fully-realized characters. It’s beautifully written, and perfectly crafted. This is a great american novel… and almost no one has heard of it.

When something this brilliant goes under the radar, it’s perfect evidence for how essential the smaller publishers like Tin House are in the current literary world.

This should be read.
Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Thursday night is the only night of the week when Russell Harmon, the dart league king, can forget about his worries, snort a few lines of coke off of his framed high school diploma, drink a few pitchers of beer, and throw some fucking darts, man! Well, he probably does that every night of the week, but it’s the only night of the week when he can do it and win some fucking trophies, man! Russell Harmon lives for Thursday night, but this is no ordinary Thursday night because Russell Harmon might ...more
Sep 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of book that you give to your redneck brother-in-law when you want him to start reading. That is the highest compliment I know. It shifts points of view ratcheting up the events of one night of darts to an unforeseeable pitch. There's murder and sex and fistfights. It worried me a bit early on with its peon to the "gotta get out of this town" ethic, but that worry is shelved early on. Mr. Morris knows how to write. I will give this book to my redneck brother-in-law should I ever ...more
Dec 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book got me into darts. probably not its intended effect.
Jan 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
hello, I'm every gross dude you ever hung out with in high school. Don't you feel pathetic about sleeping with "older guys" now? It's not so cool now that you're the same age as the creep who gave you a tattoo in your friend's living room because at 16 you were two years too young to get one legally done in a nice sterile shop, is it? Ten years ago you could never have imagined that some guy would write a book all about these jerks, and that you would find yourself in circumstances that necessit ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-desserts
I knew this would be a punishing book when I read that it was set in Idaho (which drove Hemingway to insert a shotgun into his mouth and pull the trigger amongst other brutalities) and Morris certainly doesn't pull his punches. Once you get past the proverbial shotguns in the mouth, Morris's prose really sparkles. He has a penchant for using small words that make you feel big things. I was particularly fond of his ability to spin split-second decisions into paragraphs of back story. No decision ...more
Jun 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding. No other writer I know is this brilliant at taking small, ordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people and creating beautiful, dark, fully realized worlds out of them.
Kathleen Maher
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who doesn't freak at the sight of a curse word
Recommended to Kathleen by: I read his short story, "Testimony" in In A Public Space and have tried to read everything he writes ever since. He's a great writer.
This is one of my favorite books. Keith Lee Morris is paired with Joan Silber as my favorite writers. (I can't get either to show up on my list here.) But Keith Lee Morris and Joan Silber are my favorite writers of all time! I love the classics and studied most of them in college. I've reread my favorites since then.
I like these two writers better!
"The Dart League King" is a psychological novel revolving around a group of people in Lake Garnet, ID. Mostly men who sell and ingest cocaine. They're
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stream of consciousness, dive-bar style. Carver brought into the age of meth. A great read, a good yarn, with a wonderful cast of characters, including the Everyman of the Underclass, The Dart League King. How New York City stayed away from this one is beyond me. Are there only five men still reading in America or something? Is that the belief?
Lynne Favreau
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I happen to see a review of this book that touted the authors characters so I requested it from the library. What a great find! I read it in about a day and half. Morris writes about people I could have known so you feel a very personal connection to the story.

Small town characters, drugs, drinking, lives stagnating, secrets, sex, love, hate, father and sons, mothers and daughters, all coming to a head at the bar on dart night with the League Championship on the line. The lives of characters int
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I previously read Keith Lee Morris's excellent short story collection, Call It What You Want, and decided to check out this novel. I seen this book and started to read it many months ago back when I lived in Kansas, but it didn't grab me, so I set it aside. (This was prior to reading CIWYW and realizing I needed to read more Keith Lee Morris.) I am so glad I gave this book another chance. What I liked so much about Morris's short stories are present in this book and what make it so successful--h ...more
Adrianne Mathiowetz
There were no gorgeous sentences to underline in this book: no specific phrase that rang especially poignant or true. There were a few moments where I really had to suspend my disbelief: "really, this person reacts this way?" "Wait, he's the type to do that?" "That's kind of extreme."

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Fact of the matter is, once I got to page 36 (this number may or may not have something to do with a female perspective finally enterin
Karen Germain
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had zero expectations when I started reading “The Dart League King” by Keith Lee Morris. It was one of the books that I had bought at the Tin House booth at the LA Times Festival of Books. I love Tin House and totally bought it on a whim, without really reading the synopsis. It was fantastic.

I don’t want to give away any details, but the book primarily takes place on the evening of the Dart Championship in a small town in Idaho. All of the characters lives intersect and some major secrets are
Morris builds a compelling story around a dart game, played one Thursday night for the championship of the Garnet Lake, Idaho, Dart League. Weaving different points of view and sliding backward and forward in time, Morris is funny, gritty, eloquent, tragic, epic, and a little absurd. He is a skilled ventriloquist, bringing each character to life with unique voices that tell the characters stories and the greater story of this one day. The book progresses swiftly, with vivid imagery and details.

Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once the clock starts in this novel, it moves ahead relentlessly, chugging towards, maybe not the sadness that you expect, but sadness nonetheless, and after a brief moment of all-is-right, all-is-resolved, it rebounds to punch you in the gut, a punch assisted by brass knuckles or a clenched roll of quarters. Morris is one of the best story craftsmen I know. All of his stories work in a way I can't place my finger on, but if it could in fact be fingered, it would reveal something essential of wh ...more
Ryan Mac
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes place on one summer night in a small Idaho town--on dart league night. The characters are fleshed out very well from the dart league king Russell to his drug dealer Vince to the single mom who just wants a better life. The story bounces around between characters every chapter giving you the full picture over time. Mr. Morris sets up the tension early and strings you along. The writing style of many run-on sentences of the characters' thoughts took a little to get used to but it w ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now THIS one was more my speed! Told from the perspective of several different characters (each with their own style and voice, although not to like some sort of crazed Faulknerian extreme), the book tells the stories of several characters brought together one way or the other for a darts match the penultimate week of the season in a small town idaho darts league. It's not really anything I haven't seen before, stylistically, but the author does a good job of making you care about the characters ...more
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I need a 1/2 star option. 4 is probably a little high for this one. I was really impressed by it, but towards the end I felt the suspense leading up to the climax became overdone. (I don't know quite how else to phrase it. Clearly I'd be a horrible book reviewer.) Rather than feel like the events unfolded naturally to a conclusion that seemed inevitable, like in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, for example, I was more aware of the writer's hand pulling the puppet strings. And the ending made me wa ...more
Oct 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I devoured this book on an international flight desperate to reach the conclusion while at the same time hoping that the story wouldn't end. Morris creates deep, richly drawn characters, who, while flawed have redeeming qualities that force you to root for their unlikely success. The narrative is sharp and the story arc rises and falls perfectly ending at exactly the right place, but leaving you wanting more. The prose is tight and lyrical, it feels like every word is purposefully chosen. The Da ...more
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great white-trash read. I'm giving it 4 stars only because I was a little let down by the ending, which didn't live up to the storytelling strength of the rest of the book.

Oct 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure what it is, but something about Tin House books grabs my attention; they seem to stand out from many of the other books that come my way. I enjoyed Salvation by Lucia Nevai and Girl Factory by Jim Krusoe So when I heard about The Dart League King, I figured it was worth my time to check it out.

I was right. It turned out to be a compelling read. Allow the folks at PW to summarize the plot:

Morris (The Greyhound God) follows five characters through a handful of hours culminating in a
Saleh MoonWalker
A dark and deeply involving novel with a haunting moment on just about every page. Suspenseful, gritty, great.
Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Three Cheers for Keith Lee Morris for breathing something into his work that modernists (and plenty of today's top literati) tend to have sucked out of true great literature: PLOT! It's not a four-letter word, folks, and it doesn't mean his work is un-literary. Quite the contrary, in fact. It makes this work COMPELLING.

KLM likes to play with point of view, alternating perspectives whenever he switches chapters, ping-ponging the reader among the thoughts and decisions that must be made by what ca
Dec 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I'm tempted to give this book four stars, because its epilogue deserves five (more on this later). However, were it not for the epilogue, the book would rest firmly in the three star category, so there it shall stay. For all of this averageness, however, there is much to recommend in this fast-paced depiction of rural life. The characters are vivid and memorable, despite their conformance to stereotypical country bumpkins. The plot somehow manages to be both predictable (again, confirming our st ...more
Me Read Books
My first DNF of 2014. The problem with this book, for me, was the believability of the characters. Or lack thereof, I should say. The book starts off with a promising character; the dart league king himself. But as the chapters alternate POV and details about various characters are revealed, it became a chore to suspend my disbelief. I've read other books written in a similar style and loved them; I'm not sure why it doesn't work here. Perhaps the chapters are too short? Not enough back story? M ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Four and a half for enjoyment value, but not a 5 because I don't see myself reading this again.)
The Dart League King takes place on a summer night in Idaho during the big Dart League championship. Each chapter takes a different character's perspective on what's going on, leaving the reader the only person with all the information,which lets you yell at the characters over and over again because you can see how badly they could potentially screw up. Overall, the book was creepy, fast-paced, fun
Nathan Oates
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The use of free and indirect style in this novel allows Morris to create a compelling, humorous and moving range of characters from a small town in Idaho. The movement between different points of view (and different voices, though the entire novel is written in third person, a very difficult thing to pull off) is remarkably well done and generates great energy and interest. My only complaint is that the plot is too tightly woven: every character's concerns intersect both emotionally and dramatic ...more
Nov 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A suspenseful fairly well written story starts to go awry half way through when the novel starts to plod and Morris seems obviously trying to create an effect by the layering of detail after banal detail. Even though I didn't buy into the inner lives of a few of the characters I enjoyed the story's structure so I decided to stick with it. Based on the momentum of events there seems to be a big violent pay off coming. But that never happens. Instead we're left with something akin to a One Tree Hi ...more
I read this book in one day when my son was sick with the flu and it was entertaining - the plot structure (while a bit contrived) kept making me want to read ahead, but then the quality of writing (which is quite high) helped me resist the temptation. The changing POV between 5 main characters works quite well and offers a refreshing depth to the events of one night unfold through the eyes of many. A literary page turner I would recommend - this would make a great vacation book, best consumed ( ...more
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Keith Lee Morris is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Clemson University. His previous book, THE DART LEAGUE KING, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. His writing has appeared in many publications including Tin House, the Southern Review and the New England Review..
More about Keith Lee Morris...