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A Different Kind of Momma’s Boy   Leave a comment

Some attributes of people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs may find their way
into David Guterson’s Ed King, but the strongest similarity to anyone is
Oedipus Rex. This story begins in the 1960s introducing Ed’s birth parents,
a married insurance actuary and a 15-year-old British au pair. That’s the first
clue that something’s amiss. It moves from Ed’s conception to well into the
21st century in his prominence as an Internet wiz. A lot of similarities to
the title character and the modern day wunderkind exist, but those parallels
are garnish. They’re not nearly as intriguing, nor repelling, as the connection
with the ancient story of Oedipus.

At the risk of revealing too much, once the first half of this modern-day Greek
tragedy is identified, it’s easy to anticipate the completion. It is at this point
that Guterson changes tone and voice to suddenly directly address the
reader: “Who could blame you for being interested in this potential hot part …”
And just as quickly (well, little more than a page) reverts to the objective
third person narrative.

This book is heavy on characters, and many seem extraneous. Nonetheless,
a surprising number are well-developed, but the question is why? Set in the
Pacific Northwest, Guterson’s favored locale, the likelihood of many of the
events is about as possible as a talking sphinx; oh yeah, that was part of
Sophocles’s play, too.

Although the well-known plot’s twisted one, Guterson is a master storyteller
writing about destiny, desire, and manipulation.

Ed King
Three-and-a-half Bookmarks
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
304 pages

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