Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pg. 99: Whitney Terrell's "The King of Kings County"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Whitney Terrell's The King of Kings County.

About the book, from the publisher:

A sweeping novel of our "suburban nation"

Few first novels elicit the rave reviews enjoyed by Whitney Terrell for The Huntsman. The New York Times called it “a searing first novel,” while the Chicago Tribune compared Terrell to “Faulkner, Conrad, and Melville.” In The King of Kings County, Terrell again takes us to his native Kansas City for a heartrending look at a young man’s coming-of-age as he confronts his father’s — and his city’s — dissolution.

In 1956, Alton Acheson — part conman, part visionary — begins building a suburban empire amid the cornfields of Kings County. As Alton bluffs his way into prosperity, his son, Jack, becomes a reluctant accomplice to his grand ambitions. But when greed, corruption, and organized crime combine to create an urban nightmare instead — abandoned buildings, ghettos, and slums — Jack is forced into a clear-eyed confrontation with his father’s legacy. This extraordinary saga, The King of Kings County, examines the manufacturing of an American Dream, one whose contradictions divide us to this day.

Among the praise for the novel:
“On the literary map with Anne Tyler’s Baltimore and William Kennedy’s Albany.”
Washington Post Book World

“In works by John Cheever or John Updike or Ann Beattie, suburbia becomes an emblem of malaise and compromise.... But what we haven’t seen dramatized quite so often or so well is how this promised land of the suburbs came to be created . . . [until] Whitney Terrell’s engrossing second novel, The King of Kings County.”
Los Angeles Times

“A big, fat juicy novel of conflicting values and elusive dreams ... unforgettable.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Mythic yet utterly sensible ... the prose is pure, generous, hilarious John Irving.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Enthralling . . .”
Wall Street Journal

“Whitney Terrell is a remarkable novelist.... He knows so much, tells so well in the voice of Jack Acheson, that the unfolding scenes’ serial surprises — always sensual and emotional — seem almost effortless, as natural as breathing.”
—Geoffrey Wolfe

"Racism, real estate, segregation and the Mafia in Kansas City, in a big, brainy book spanning half a century. Yet Terrell manages to make this equally a coming-of-age story, with writing nimble enough to make John Irving proud."
Gillian Flynn
Whitney Terrell is the New Letters Writer in Residence at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His first novel, The Huntsman (Viking) was a New York Times notable book and was selected as a best book of 2001 by The Kansas City Star and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The King of Kings County (Viking) won the William Rockhill Nelson award from The Kansas City Star and was selected as a best book of 2005 by the Christian Science Monitor. In 2006, he was named one of 20 “writers to watch” under 40 by members of the National Book Critics Circle.

Visit Terrell's website to learn more about the author, his novels, and his non-fiction.

The Page 99 Test: The King of Kings County.

--Marshal Zeringue