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Ed King

Cover of Ed King

Ed King

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A sweeping, propulsive, darkly humorous new novel by the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars: a story of destiny, desire, and destruction that reimagines Sophocles's Oedipus Rex for our own era.

In Seattle in 1962, Walter Cousins, a mild-mannered actuary—"a guy who weighs risk for a living"—takes a risk of his own, and makes the biggest error of his life. He sleeps with Diane Burroughs, the sexy, not-quite-legal British au pair who's taking care of his children for the summer. Diane gets pregnant and leaves their baby on a doorstep, but not before turning the tables on Walter and setting in motion a tragedy of epic proportions. Their orphaned child, adopted by an adoring family and named Edward Aaron King, grows up to become a billionaire Internet tycoon and an international celebrity—the "King of Search"—who unknowingly, but inexorably, hurtles through life toward a fate he may have no power to shape.

An instant classic—David Guterson's most daring and dazzling novel yet—that brings a contemporary urgency to one of the greatest stories of all time.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint previously published material:

Alfred Music Publishing Co. Inc.: Excerpt from "Do You Remember Walter?" words and music by Raymond Douglas Davies, copyright © 1969, copyright renewed by Davray Music Ltd. and ABKCO Music Inc., 85 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003. All rights on behalf of Davray Music Ltd. administered by Unichappell Music Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Alfred Music Publishing Co. Inc.


Killer Queen
Words and Music by Freddie Mercury
© 1974 (Renewed 2002) QUEEN MUSIC LTD.
All Rights for the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered by GLENWOOD MUSIC CORP.
All Rights for the world excluding the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered by EMI MUSIC PUBLISHING LIMITED.
All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured Used by Permission
Reprinted by permission of Hal Leonard Corporation
A sweeping, propulsive, darkly humorous new novel by the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars: a story of destiny, desire, and destruction that reimagines Sophocles's Oedipus Rex for our own era.

In Seattle in 1962, Walter Cousins, a mild-mannered actuary—"a guy who weighs risk for a living"—takes a risk of his own, and makes the biggest error of his life. He sleeps with Diane Burroughs, the sexy, not-quite-legal British au pair who's taking care of his children for the summer. Diane gets pregnant and leaves their baby on a doorstep, but not before turning the tables on Walter and setting in motion a tragedy of epic proportions. Their orphaned child, adopted by an adoring family and named Edward Aaron King, grows up to become a billionaire Internet tycoon and an international celebrity—the "King of Search"—who unknowingly, but inexorably, hurtles through life toward a fate he may have no power to shape.

An instant classic—David Guterson's most daring and dazzling novel yet—that brings a contemporary urgency to one of the greatest stories of all time.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint previously published material:

Alfred Music Publishing Co. Inc.: Excerpt from "Do You Remember Walter?" words and music by Raymond Douglas Davies, copyright © 1969, copyright renewed by Davray Music Ltd. and ABKCO Music Inc., 85 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003. All rights on behalf of Davray Music Ltd. administered by Unichappell Music Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Alfred Music Publishing Co. Inc.


Killer Queen
Words and Music by Freddie Mercury
© 1974 (Renewed 2002) QUEEN MUSIC LTD.
All Rights for the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered by GLENWOOD MUSIC CORP.
All Rights for the world excluding the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered by EMI MUSIC PUBLISHING LIMITED.
All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured Used by Permission
Reprinted by permission of Hal Leonard Corporation
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    In 1962, Walter Cousins made the biggest mistake of his life: he slept with the au pair for a month. She was an English exchange student named Diane Burroughs, and he was an actuary at Piersall-Crane, Inc., whose wife, that summer, had suffered a nervous breakdown. Diane had been in his house for less than a week—mothering his kids, cleaning, making meals—when he noticed a new word intruding on his assessment of her. 'Here I am,' thought Walter, 'an actuary, a guy who weighs risk for a living, and now, because I'm infatuated with the wrong person—because I'm smitten by an 18 year old—I'm using the word fate.'

    Diane had been peddled to Walter, by an office temp familiar with her current host family, as "a nice girl from the U.K. who needs work to extend her visa." Walter, who at 34 had never left North America, thought "au pair" sounded pretentious—"you mean babysitter," he told the temp. Immediately he regretted his provincialism, so he added, "I could also go with nanny." The temp's comeback was sharp. She was younger than he was, wore formidable boots, and had an air of immunity to an office flirt like Walter. "No, definitely, it's au pair," she said. "She's here on a visa. She's from out of the country. If you take her on, you become her host father, and you give her an allowance for whatever she does for you—child care or housework or whatever."

    Au pair it was, then. Walter took down the phone number, chatted with Diane's host mother, then spoke to the girl herself. In no position to be picky—he needed help yesterday—he hired Diane on the spot.

    "This is hard to explain," he'd explained, "but my wife's . . . hospitalized."

    Back came the sort of English inflections it was difficult for him not to be charmed by. "In hospital," she said. "I do hope it isn't serious."

    "No," he said, "but meanwhile there's the kids. Four and three. Barry and Tina. Out of diapers, but still, they're tricky to corral."

    "Then allow me just a smidgeon of shameful self-promotion. What you need is an English au pair, sir, adept with a rodeo rope."

    "I think you mean lasso."

    "A lass with a lasso, then, for when they're mucking about starkers."

    "That's what I need. Something like that."

    "Well," said Diane. "I'm your girl."

    This flagrantly forward use of language—neat, cunning phrases and bald innuendo—from the mouth of a high school girl jockeying for work was new in his American ear. Diane sounded quick-witted and cheerfully combative—qualities he'd always found winning and attractive—as in her screed on the U.S. State Department and its byzantine visa requirements. "I'm still keen to go to college in America," she told him, "but at the moment I'm furious with your Seattle passport office. They're trying, actually, to throw me out."

    The next Sunday, with his kids complaining in the back seat of his Lincoln Premiere, Walter went to escort this girl from her host family's large Victorian near Seward Park to his brick-veneered ranch house in Greenwood. He hoped Diane wouldn't be too disappointed when she discovered she was moving down in the world, and as he parked on the cobbles fronting the Victorian, he imagined himself apologizing for having nothing to offer in the way of gilding or ambience. Seward Park, after all, dripped old money and featured lake views; Greenwood, by contrast, was dowdy and decrepit, with summer-arid grass patches and sagging gutters. Walter, of course, would have liked a better neighborhood, but his was a notoriously mid-wage profession, a fact he hadn't reckoned with at Iowa State but was reckoning with now, too late. Not...
About the Author-
  • David Guterson is the author of the novels East of the Mountains, The Other, Our Lady of the Forest, and Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, as well as a story collection, The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind, and Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. He lives in Washington State.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine From foundling to king of search engine algorithms, Ed King is portrayed by Arthur Morey in a fairly straightforward manner--even when sex and humor (cosmic or mundane) take center stage. Ed, the accidental offspring of a scheming au pair and philandering father, is adopted by a nice Jewish couple. Only his minor relations--Jewish and working-class Brits--draw intriguing accents from Morey. King's childhood, rise to power, road-rage encounter with his natural father, and inevitable marriage to his biological mother are events Morey cruises through, consistently absorbing listeners in Guterson's engrossing vision of Greek drama in contemporary America. D.P.D. (c) AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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    All copies of this title, including those transferred to portable devices and other media, must be deleted/destroyed at the end of the lending period.

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