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King: A Street Story
by John Berger
A novel about homeless people told by a dog who can read human thought. He lives with Vico and Vica, a couple in a homeless community on the edge of town. He even helps defend it when developers come to clear the land.
(summary from ISBN 0375405569)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375705341, Paperback)"The Terrain is used as a dump. Smashed lorries. Old boilers. Broken washing machines. Rotary lawn mowers. Refrigerators which don't make cold any more. Wash basins which are cracked. There are also bushes and small trees and tough flowers like pheasant's-eye and viper's-grass."
In John Berger's powerful novel King, the Terrain is also home to a small community of the dispossessed. Here, a stone's throw from a highway somewhere in France, in shelters constructed out of detritus, live Jack and Marcello, old Corinna and Liberto, Joachim and Anna, and Danny and Saul. Here also live Vica and Vico, an elderly couple (and couples are a rarity among the homeless) and their dog, King. It is King who narrates this day-in-the-life narrative, and Berger has endowed him with the ability to understand and be understood: "Lying beside the chestnut brazier, something came to me between the ears: the world is so bad, God has to exist. I asked Vico what he thought. 'Most people,' he said quickly, 'would draw the opposite conclusion.'"
What makes King such a singular creation is that despite his philosophical bent and communicative skills, there is nothing anthropomorphic about him. He thinks, behaves, and reacts like a dog, albeit a dog who ponders the existence of the Almighty. Animals are not sentimental, and neither is Berger. His human characters are irrevocably damaged, their lives verge on the unbearable, and their attempts to create family and community at the edges of society are eventually thwarted. There can be no happy ending to this street story, but Berger is after something bigger than making his readers feel good. Instead he shines a spotlight on a world we would prefer to ignore, using the love that Vica, Vico, and King feel for each other to illuminate a humanity that is all too often overlooked. King is not an easy book to read, but it is impossible to forget. --Alix Wilber
Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 074754543X, Paperback)This title offers a furious homage to the homeless and a lyrical meditation on language and experience. You will be led to a place you haven't been, from where few stories come. You will be led by King, a dog (or is he?) to a wasteland beside the motorway called Saint Valery.
Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375405569, Hardcover)In this book you will be led to a place you haven't been, from where few stories come. You will be led by King, a dog--or is he a dog?--to a wasteland beside the highway called Saint Valéry. Here, at the end of the twentieth century, among smashed trucks, old boilers, and broken washing machines, live Liberto, Malak, Jack, Corinna, Danny, Anna, Joachim, Saul, Alfonso, and Vico and Vica.
Listen to King's voice as he tells a different kind of story: twenty-four hours pass and lives are lived. It is good to have survived another winter, for now it is spring, when the nights, though cold, are no longer harsh enough to kill. The wet season is over, and with it the hopelessness of damp. Today the sun will shine: of what else will the day be made?
King is at once a furious homage to the homeless and a lyrical meditation on language and experience. The bitter yet celebratory prose speaks to us all.
(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 19 Apr 2011 20:50:32 -0400)
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