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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (956 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Guterson Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2011 ISBN: 9780307939418
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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 Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • [In this] tale of mythic proportions. . . . readers watch in horror as three disparate lives hurtle toward their fate in this reimagining of the Oedipus myth. . . . [Guterson’s] fans will likely clamor for this. Sally Bissell, Library Journal 
  • [An] engrossing, constantly twisting retelling of Oedipus Rex . . . darkly funny. The Huffington Post
     
  • A retelling of Oedipus Rex for the information age [that is] more comedy than tragedy. Guterson maintains an enjoyably sharp edge to his humor that will keep readers hooked. Kirkus Review 
     
  • “A special pleasure will be experienced by those who can appreciate how the old elements have been modernized. Oedipus may not have been Guterson’s to begin with, but by the end, readers will have no doubts that Ed King is a creation entirely his own.”

    BookPage

  • “[A] transcendently dark and dazzling book.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Guterson keeps the novel winningly good-natured and almost farcical, all the better to teach timeless lessons about hubris, ambition, and the consequences of long-ago sins.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “[An] engrossing, constantly twisting retelling of Oedipus Rex…Darkly funny.”

    Huffington Post

  • “How would a modern man go about killing his father and marrying his mother, just like Sophocles’ Oedipus? Guterson’s vivid recreation…is a study in outsized avarice and arrogance. Exuberantly rambunctious, Guterson’s bold pondering of the Greek classic is a fiendishly tantalizing romp.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Sweeping…[Guterson’s] portraits of humanity are real, and exceedingly enjoyable to read.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • The Greek gods ran a pitiless universe. David Guterson's brilliant new novel, Ed King, mirrors that world, but it sets the wheels in motion in 1960s Seattle, as it follows the city's transformation from a sleepy, self-satisfied city to a 21st-century tech powerhouse. Ambition and desire drive the plot (it must be said that there is a whole lot of sex in this book) along with the fundamental irony that the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. . . . Ed King is compulsively readable and witheringly funny. Guterson's narrative voice—by turns savage and sad, amused and outraged—becomes a kind of Greek chorus of one. From the self-reverential blather of liberals to the gaming industry's nihilistic love of violence to the winner-take-all world of software and search engines, Guterson skewers it all, as he tracks Ed's ascendancy to the top of the tech world as the ‘King of Search.’ He interweaves the story with enough mythological references to keep even the most ardent classicist entertained. The technological titans of Ed King, walled off in their estates and kingdoms, and privy to the best life that money can buy, strive and strain with little thought to where all their efforts might be headed. It forces the thought: what have all the technological achievements of Microsoft, Amazon, Apple wrought, when it comes to changing certain fundamental certainties of human nature? Ed believes the sky is the limit. Will [he] cheat death? Will he dodge the bullet of fate? In the world of Ed King, what brings the all-powerful ‘King of Search’ to his final reckoning will keep the reader enthralled until the final page of this transcendently dark and dazzling book. Mary Ann Gwinn, The Seattle Times
  • For a while after I finished Ed King, I wondered: With cheap, easy, 24-hour access to humanity's weirdest, creepiest, freakiest behavior, do we need a reboot of the Oedipus myth? Guterson persuasively argues that the answer is yes. While his latest novel is indeed full of sex, Ed King stands at polar opposite to the sad line-crossings of pornography. Guterson has trucked with Ovid and Homer and dear old Mr. Sophocles to merrily smash taboos like crockery and bring into the 21st century the old story of a man who kills his father, marries his mother and becomes a god. Ed King is dense with Guterson’s customary needle-sharp prose. Guterson even drove me to my Bullfinch's to track the allusions to his sources. Those old stories survived millennia because they tell us about the human condition. Brave writers like Guterson can renew them to observe that some things are taboo for good reason; go ahead and break them, but there's no avoiding the consequences. Anne Saker, Oregon Live 
  • In his daring novel, David Guterson reimagines Oedipus Rex in contemporary America. Unlike Oedipus in the original Greek drama, Ed is not royalty per se but the contemporary equivalent: a billionaire tech titan, ‘the King of Search.’  Born of a fling of a married man and a much-younger British au pair, baby Ed is left on a stranger’s doorstep and soon adopted. Ed grows up handsome, intellectually gifted, and powered by a relentless self-confidence. The narrative runs briskly through decades and multiple points of view as Guterson carves a wry edge into Sophocles’s tragedy about an abandoned baby who grows up to kill his father and marry his mother.  When [Ed and his mother] meet by chance, the attraction is immediate and the implications horrifying, though not to the lustily oblivious couple. Guterson keeps the novel winningly good-natured and almost farcical, all the better to teach timeless lessons about hubris, ambition, and the consequences of long-ago sins. Karen Holt, O Magazine 
  • How would a modern man go about killing his father and marrying his mother, just like Sophocles’ Oedipus? Guterson’s vivid recreation . . . is a study in outsized avarice and arrogance. Exuberantly rambunctious, Guterson’s bold pondering of the Greek classic is a fiendishly tantalizing romp. Carol Haggas, Booklist, starred review
  • Sweeping. . . Ed King, a reimagination of Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus Rex,’ the Greek tale of patricide and incest,  is grounded in spot-on morality tales of exceedingly normal people who are doing their best to struggle through their middle- and upper-middle-class existence. . . . We meet the characters of Ed King in ensemble fashion. While their stories—and the bonds that connect them—are the stuff of sometimes far-fetched fiction, their personalities and behavior are all too believable. These are people more or less just like us. . . . Guterson clearly has made his bet on nature, not nurture. What’s bred in the bone guides each character in this well-told tale. [Guterson’s] portraits of humanity are real, and exceedingly enjoyable to read. Adam Lashinsky, The San Francisco Chronicle 
     
  • It takes a lot of nerve and perhaps a special brand of madness to take on the classics, and it doesn’t get more classic than the ancient Greek tragedies . . . especially when the play in question happens to be Sophocles’ magnum opus Oedipus the King. Yet with his latest novel, Ed King, author David Guterson does what many might consider the unthinkable: brings Oedipus into the modern age. . . . It would be a shame to ruin all the twists and turns that Oedipus/Ed—who in Guterson’s version becomes a celebrity billionaire through the power of the Internet—faces on his journey. Even for those who are well versed in Sophocles, Ed King is filled with plenty of surprises and sly homage to the original (as well as a few other Greek myths), and half the fun here is reveling in the sheer cheekiness of the narrative. Ed King is not a new story, yet Guterson has managed to infuse this novel with feelings of freshness, relevance and even believability that are sure to delight 21st-century readers. A special pleasure will be experienced by those who can appreciate how the old elements have been modernized. Oedipus may not have been Guterson’s to begin with, but by the end, readers will have no doubts that Ed King is a creation entirely his own. Stephanie Harrison, BookPage
  • Guterson . . . retells one of the oldest stories we know in a way that makes you hang on every twist and turn. You know where you’re going, but the trip is such a literary sightseer’s delight that you still enjoy every minute of it. . . . Even as you know your final destination, the route Guterson uses will keep you entertained the whole way. The way he makes Ed-ipus finally see, peeling the layers back one at a time, is ingenious. Guterson is one of America’s most talented novelists. This time, he has taken on a daunting task and succeeded. . . . [Ed King] should add to Guterson’s already glittering reputation. Howard Owen, Fredericksburg.com 
  • Selected for the November 2011 Indie Next List
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, October 2011
  • A 2011 Seattle Times Best Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon Zink | 2/20/2014

    " A clever take on Oedipus the King. I didn't realize what was happening in that regard at least until the second half of the book. David Guterson is a good writer, and I want to read more by him. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cerealflakes | 2/8/2014

    " I enjoyed this book at the beginning, but it was really getting grating by the mid point. This book is based on the Oedipal story, so they story line is basically known from the start. Add to that a bunch of unlikable characters and unbelievable coincidences, and you have a book with not much going for it. As a resident of Seattle, I was also distracted by the author using real places in the book. I also wondered why he made up the name of the kids' middle school, but not the names of anything else. Minor, I know, but when he's using the real names of everything else, it did make me curious. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristen | 2/6/2014

    " This is the first of Guterson's books I've read, no doubt picked up because of a magazine book review. While the story of Oedipus Rex is one worth telling, as lessons about pride and hubris are always needed, I'm not sure I was convinced that this re-telling was worth my time. The characters, intentionally soulless, are interesting, though perhaps too flawed. Neither main character has a redeeming quality, per se. Additionally, the language tends to be long on exposition and short on dialogue. While this works in classic literature sometimes, not so much in its modern iteration. Props for trying, but its hard to twist a sensational Greek tragedy and still have it be relevant and coherent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynn Shurden | 2/1/2014

    " What did I think? Gutterson always gives a twist to a story. Although I realized early on where this story line was headed, I continued to read, nevertheless. All I can say after thinking about this after finishing the book, it still makes me question some things! How plausible is it that in the metropolitan area of Seattle that mother and son would "hook up" as they did? Oh, I suppose anything can happen! But as any good book does, I'm still thinking about it - life happens! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bonnie | 1/29/2014

    " ultimately I couldn't finish it. It was too long and too sad. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Staff Favorites | 1/29/2014

    " Power, sex and hubris combine for wickedly funny, fast moving entertainment. --Lee "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dorinda | 1/28/2014

    " The Oedipus Rex is almost too tortured a literary device here but general entertainment value overcomes that "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily | 1/9/2014

    " When I read this book, I was really glad I didn't read the description on the back first--that would have been a big spoiler for me. This book was like a guilty pleasure. Darkly funny, amazing writing and great plot. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsey | 1/7/2014

    " The premise of this book was so interesting, and I love the approach to the Oedipal complex in a modern setting. I was just disappointed with the lackluster ending that seemed like an anti-climax to me. The book was a solid 4 until I got to the end! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ellen | 12/29/2013

    " Started out really well, but turned into ridiculousness (if it's not a word, it should be) halfway through. I kept reading to find out how it ended, but it wasn't worth the effort. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Lesyshen | 12/23/2013

    " This was between a three and a four. it was a compelling book in a sick kind of way. The last 30 pages were hard for me to read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rebecca Rosenberg | 11/26/2013

    " So very, very, very boring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Louise | 2/24/2013

    " If you liked Oepidus Rex, you'll like this one. It was slow to start out but got better the further along you went. I give it a 7 on my 10 scale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phebe | 12/14/2012

    " This modern-day Oedipus story is good...the author sometimes wanders a bit, but it was a good listen-to book and I was quite engaged. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michaela | 10/18/2012

    " What can I say, I'm a sucker for old tales told in modern times. I thought this was well done. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cyndi | 10/12/2012

    " Somehow, this book was interesting and predictable at the same time time. The characters were, of course, interesting, but at times did things I didn't find realistic. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Becky Varnell | 9/9/2012

    " Weird...not worth reading. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ilana | 1/31/2012

    " eh. Not impressed. I found myself just plodding through the end, got bored about midway. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Martha | 11/28/2011

    " It must have held my interest because I finished it, but I did not like the story much. I did not understand the characters and sometimes the time line confused me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 10/27/2011

    " I love that I didn't know what this book was about before I started it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 William | 10/18/2011

    " Guterson is one of my favorite writers and for me, this novel didn't come close to measuring up to his others. Maybe my expectations were too high. For me, this was a well written novel with a ridiculous soap opera storyline. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jurgellis | 9/11/2011

    " Very clever plot. Learned a lot about the details of the Oedipus Rex story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 6/15/2011

    " Pretty disappointing. Guterson spends time on details, and then rushes through important plot points - and it ends WAY too soon. I like what he is saying about technology and human tragedy, but unfortunately I won't be recommending this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 5/22/2011

    " Loved it! Best thing he's ever written. Dark. "

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About the Author
Author David Guterson

David Guterson is an American author and educator best known for his novel Snow Falling on Cedars, which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award and was adapted into a critically acclaimed film in 1999. In addition to his writing and teaching career, he is also the cofounder of Field’s End, a community organization for writers in Washington. 

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey has won three AudioFile Magazine “Best Of” Awards, and his work has garnered numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and placed him as a finalist for the Audie Award. He has acted in a number of productions, both Off-Broadway in New York and Off-Loop in Chicago. He graduated from Harvard and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has won awards for his fiction and drama, worked as an editor with several book publishers, and taught literature and writing at Northwestern University. His plays and songs have been produced in New York, Chicago, and Milan, where he has also performed.