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For Kings and Planets

Canin, Ethan

943 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679419632 / ISBN 13: 9780679419631
Published by Random House, New York, 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Gumshoe Books (West Columbia, SC, U.S.A.)

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canin is a remarkable talent and this is a crisp copy. Size: 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 014038

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Bibliographic Details

Title: For Kings and Planets

Publisher: Random House, New York

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Ethan Canin is one of America's finest writers.  He has been called "brilliant" by the Los Angeles Times, "a tremendous talent" by the Chicago Sun-Times, and "dazzling" by Walker Percy.  The bestselling author of The Palace Thief and Emperor of the Air now gives us this stunning new novel, For Kings and Planets.

"Years later, Orno Tarcher would think of his days in New York as a seduction.  A seduction and a near miss, a time when his memory of the world around him --the shining stone stairwells, the taxicabs, the sea of nighttime lights--was glinting and of heroic proportion.  Like a dream."  So begins this remarkable novel about the lives of two young men and the women they love.

Orno Tarcher arrives in New York City from a small town in Missouri, feeling unsophisticated and disadvantaged by his family's bedrock values.  He meets Marshall Emerson, the charismatic gem of a worldly family, a seductive and brilliant New Yorker who is revealed, as time passes, to be bent on destruction.  The novel explores with depth and sophistication the conflicts of character at the heart of every life, the desire for grandeur and the lure of normalcy, the tension between rivalry and friendship, fathers and sons, love and betrayal.  For Kings and Planets is the story of a man  who thinks of himself as moral, who tests his character against power, deception, and seduction.  It is also the story of a friendship fractured by love.

For Kings and Planets is a remarkable achievement, another fiction classic by the writer who has been called "a worthy successor to...Philip Roth, Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Penn Warren."

Review:

Like Philip Roth and Robert Penn Warren, Ethan Canin won the Houghton Mifflin Fellowship for rising stars whose first books hit big. His luminous 1988 story collection, Emperor of the Air remains a must-read, but his second novel, For Kings and Planets, is nonetheless recognizably part of the Canin constellation. He repeatedly features a straight guy (an accountant or other sober type) transfixed by the spectacle of an out-of-control guy (a delinquent and/or child-prodigy brother or brother figure to the main character). This time, it's Orno Tarcher, a Missouri farm boy thunderstruck by his Columbia University classmate Marshall Emerson, a theatrically bratty, sometimes suicidal Manhattan genius. "I grew up with farmers and insurance salesmen," says Orno. "I grew up with Kennedys and insurance salesmen," says Marshall. "I grew up with pigs everywhere," says Orno. "And we had that in common," Marshall replies. (In keeping with their characters, Orno becomes a sensible dentist and Marshall a cynical, coked-up Hollywood producer.)

Canin sensitively evokes Orno's prosaic world--you'd have to read Jane Smiley's The Age of Grief for better fiction about dentistry. But Orno mostly exists to relate Marshall's appealing, appalling antics: his manic raps about his childhood amid the ruins of Istanbul, his sabotage of his own (and Orno's) love life, his Oedipal strife with his chilly, brilliant parents. "Our family seal is a snake twisted in knots," says Marshall's lovely sister. And, reader, Orno marries her. Page for page, Canin's stories better show off his gift for epiphany, but the novel gives him room to develop character, entangle plots, and make a stab at the heart of the family romance. --Tim Appelo

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