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About The Secrets of a Fire King. The first story collection from the author of the # 1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter With The Memory.
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Taking us to exotic and remote places in America, Europe, and Asia, The Secrets of a Fire King is at once magical and profound, marking the extraordinary debut of a new voice in American fiction. After completing her graduate work, she and her husband taught on the rural east coast of Malaysia, then in a small city an hour south of Tokyo, and finally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. While in Asia, she started writing and publishing short fiction. She also received a Whiting Writers' Award in She is a graduate of the Iowa's Writers' Workshop and currently teaches writing at the University of Kentucky.

Bernadette Dunne provides deep emotional nuance to her reading, conveying precisely the awe of a first-time skydiver, the quiet desperation of an Asian mail-order bride or the surprise and jealousy of an old-guard colonialist wife meeting a modern-minded newcomer. Still, where on the page Edwards? The stories have impressively diverse and realistically described settings, some reaching back in time by a century, others taking place on the other side of the world, but apart from the occasional use of a light French or British accent, Dunne?

Listeners will appreciate Dunne? A Penguin paperback Reviews, Feb. July Copyright Reed Business Information. Many of the award-winning stories in this first collection feature strong, pragmatic women as protagonists, usually motivated by love in its broadest sense: A year-old finds hidden strength after skydiving with an unstable boyfriend; a lonely, uprooted Asian woman makes a life in America; the cleaning woman of a famous scientist idolizes her employer despite suffering physically because of his experiments; a wife connects best with her husband during the time of their greatest challenge.

Edwards utilizes her perceptual ability and keen eye for detail to delineate believable characters, many of whom are facing unique challenges. Their haunting situations are effectively complemented by unusual settings in Asia, America and Europe. I went and looked at other reviews and was shocked at the low ratings it got. I can only imagine that the readers who read her more popular fiction in The Memory Keeper's Daughter were lost within her more literary stories.


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I did not read MKD, so can't comment, but that's the only reason that can account for the angry one stars. Edwards is extremely ade This is one of those special surprises I found in a remainder bin, of all places. Edwards is extremely adept at voice and setting and imaginative story plots. She is at her best when mixing science with human nature. Each story was special, but the ones that really stood out for me were "Aristotle's Lantern," "A Gleaming in the Darkness" which will go down as an all-time favorite, the story of Madame Curie's cleaning woman , and "In the Garden," a tangential follow-up to "Gleaming.

And you are left wondering, is there nothing that this writer can't imagine and deftly portray? Well, that's what this reader was left wondering, in any case. View all 9 comments. Jan 11, Bhargavi Balachandran rated it really liked it Shelves: A beautifully written book! Kim is a master at weaving strange ,unsettling tales alive with emotions. Most of the protagonists are women. The first few stories seemed similar, with common themes of death, redemption and loneliness. But as I read on , I felt that that stories kept getting better and better.

A thin chord of melancholy runs through the stories ,but Kim's prowess with words helps one brush away the sadness in the stories and plough right on. I haven't read a better collection of stor A beautifully written book! I haven't read a better collection of stories in a while now. Kim's stories are like a slow, serenading bitter-sweet dance- definitely not something to be read in a hurry. My favourite stories were the one on Marie Curie and"Balance". Truly poignant and highly recommended for all lovers of short stories..

Aug 21, Geekwif added it. I wanted to like this book. But I really didn't. I picked it up because I had read The Memory Keeper's Daughter and wanted to read something else by the same author. The first few stories in the collection were okay, not great, but then I started to notice a pattern in the author's writing: I read about half of the stories and then finally gave up. Apr 24, Jenny Reading Envy rated it it was amazing Shelves: This was mentioned somewhere and I had to request it interlibrary loan to read it, since it is out of print.

The stories were original. My favorite was The Invitation, about a woman living in a foreign country for 30 years and still living as an outsider. Lovers of short stories. Recommended to Joan by: This is one of the best short story collections I have ever read. Many thanks to Teresa for her excellent review. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

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THE SECRETS OF A FIRE KING by Kim Edwards | Kirkus Reviews

This book was a series of short stories which in general isn't bad, however there are about 15 different short stories in this book and each story contains a very eccentric character. Edwards brings each story to the climatic point and then ends each story. So no story has a resolution and you are left wondering what happens to each and every character. She never ends any of the stories or weaves them together in the end. It is just 15 stories that end in the middle. At first I was very interest This book was a series of short stories which in general isn't bad, however there are about 15 different short stories in this book and each story contains a very eccentric character.

At first I was very interested in the book wondering how she would weave the lives of these characters together, but by the end I was angry because she just kept telling stories and introducing more characters without tying up previous character conflicts. This book left me frustrated and wasn't an enjoyable read at all.


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The rating of this book was brought down by the stories that I didn't enjoy. A lot of them were very boring, or confusing to me. My Least favorites were "Gold", "Aristotle's Lantern", and the first one which 2. My Least favorites were "Gold", "Aristotle's Lantern", and the first one which I can't remember the title of.

KIRKUS REVIEW

Feb 27, Anya Nardone rated it really liked it. I chose this book because it is different from what I typically read. It is centered more around short stories rather than one long story. They are almost like fables, each having a lesson to learn from. Although they require a lot of interpretation because things are often alluded to or hinted at with underlying meanings. My favorite of all the stories was number three, "A Gleaming in the I chose this book because it is different from what I typically read. My favorite of all the stories was number three, "A Gleaming in the Darkness".

This story revolves around a cleaner of a scientific lab who idolizes the owner Marie Curie. The cleaner, who is very uneducated especially with science wanders around the lab every night fiddling and playing with all of Marie's findings and jars of unknown substances just because of her pure curiosity with everything. I thought this book was very successful because, despite all the different stories within the one book, they all shared a common theme and genre which linked them together. The only thing that was a little disappointing was that none of the stories intertwined or had any relevance to one another.

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Although, some people may like how each story is different and unique. It keeps a reader constantly changing their thoughts and reading something new and exciting. Overall, "The Secrets of a Fire King" is well worth a read for anyone interested in Kim Edwards's work or short stories.

I am not one who normally invests time in short stories. It is not that I dislike them, more that I find them unsatisfying. I get involved and dedicated to an idea and find it cut short. This is expected as it is the intent of the medium. A result of this is that I either avoid them completely, or read them, and feel that my opinion is not a fair reflection of the work. So I rarely write reviews of collections like this. Thirteen vignettes are carried here, and for the most part, each was impressive. They are almost elusive amorphous fables, each having a lesson to learn from, but requiring interpretation.

Folks who read this should be made aware that much of the work is darker than her other writings. Many of the tales have an undercurrent of tragic humanity that is gripping. One of the stories here stands out every time I think about it. The story centers around a cleaning woman in a scientific laboratory. She is uneducated and obsessively idolizes the woman who runs the lab, Marie Curie. She wanders the lab and fiddles with jars and ampoules that glow beautifully in the darkness of the lab.

With out going into too much detail, it was fairly amazing. It details the love triangle between a man, woman, and boy who are in a traveling side show. This collection is well worth picking up. Surprisingly, it is commonly found in stacks of discount books at Borders and other stores, so you may be able to get it very cheap. I do not know what they put into play during the marketing of this, but it obviously was not enough or was completely approached wrong.

A truly gorgeous anthology of short stories with a number of themes, from science to childhood innocence to fantasy, across different time periods and very different places. You feel for the characters and get a sense of the settings, whether Southeast Asia or middle America, very easily. Nov 30, Magdelanye rated it liked it Shelves: The Secrets of a Fire King is one of 14 well crafted stories told with brisk assurance,mostly from a first person perspective.

The Secrets of a Fire King: Stories

Despite a uniformity of length and style and definate thematic similarities, all of the stories describe wildly different and unusual circumstances. Edwards skill is relentless as she catapults the reader into each scenario. Somehow we are immediately immersed in the commonplace of the bizarre situations articulated with such bland confidence that we can hardly challenge th The Secrets of a Fire King is one of 14 well crafted stories told with brisk assurance,mostly from a first person perspective.

Somehow we are immediately immersed in the commonplace of the bizarre situations articulated with such bland confidence that we can hardly challenge their authenticity. These may be stories about marginal lives but their telling is from the center. None of the upbeat or tranquil here. Edwards is exploring the shady fringes of the possible, the reprucussions of displacement and exile, the many permutations of estrangement, opportunity and risk.

And while transformation is a continual possibility,it is the way her characters deal with dissillusion that is the apex of each story. There is no neat ending, these characters are in transit and each ephinany contains its own disquieting lack of resolution. For these stories do not comfort.

The world may be "a shimmering place, shaped anew in every instant by the mystery of perception" but it's triumphs are fleeting and betrayal is certain,reversals of fortune and loss of identity taken for granted. The Secrets of a Fire King reveal that life is but a trick and all meaning arbitrary. I am not sorry I read this book, and there were 2 0r 3 stories that I thought exceptional, but I was always releived to move on, away from the bleak vision of lives unmoored from their purpose. I would not recommend this book to anyone with deppressive tendencies.

Aug 11, Xian rated it it was ok. There are books that have substance, and there are books that are pure style. Not that there's anything wrong with style: But, it is exceedingly difficult to write a readable book that is pure style with, at the heart of it, very little substance. Edwards tries, and the result is a collection of short stories fictional vignettes really that falls far short of her debut novel, The Memory Keeper's daughter.

The There are books that have substance, and there are books that are pure style. The stories focus on a character, and tries to play on her transformation or growth, or a turning point in their life, but often fails. Engagement in the character falls short, and is inadequately replaced by far too many adjectives, or unconnected passages that try to connect the reader to the scene. In short, I found the book tiring and unsatisfying. Unsatisfying, because the stories lack meaningful conflict and resolution more the latter than the former , and tiring because the writing style gets trite pretty quickly.

The stories are mostly plotless something that I can envision working, but only in the hands of a few truly skillful authors , and the author doesn't pull it off. It was a struggle to finish reading Sep 29, Laura rated it it was amazing Shelves: I was excited to get three stories into the book and still be looking forward to what came next. Usually books of short stories start off well and then morph into mediocre disappointments for me.

I loved and appreciated every story but one only because I have a personal hatred for stories about couples who see the significant other cheating and say nothing-I can't even begin to relate to that. My very favorite was "Thirst", which reminds me of The Little Mermaid. I'm not sure if the main chara I was excited to get three stories into the book and still be looking forward to what came next.

I'm not sure if the main character was a mermaid or a physical embodiment of the ocean, but either way it was beautiful.


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I disagree with those that say the metaphors are overreaching. Kim Edwards does a wonderful job of creating interesting similes and metaphors without losing control. I never found myself wincing or rolling my eyes, the way I do when I attempt to read Alice Hoffman books.

The Secrets Of A Fire King

As with most every short story collection save Hempel, Cheever, Munro, and Robison waffled about how many stars to give this. Some of the stories are utterly superb and so worthy of five stars , and a few others are merely good three, maybe , so we'll average 'em. There's a thoroughness to the evocation of women and of the world that I admire enormously and that times tried my patience I like swifter voices. Really notable, though, for the wide range of these stories, and for their insiste As with most every short story collection save Hempel, Cheever, Munro, and Robison waffled about how many stars to give this.

Really notable, though, for the wide range of these stories, and for their insistence on mature subject matter: Unlike many debut collections, which muddle with coming-of-age tales, Edwards actually writes about adults, and about adult dilemmas. Jul 24, Hershey Go rated it really liked it. The stories inside are short but full of meaning. THey are written beautifully and each story doesn't really have an ending--it's up to you to conclude, or end, with your own imagination.

While reading this book I felt like i was apart from reality--such was the beauty of the way it was written. The author, Kim Edwards, knows how keep her reader interested and usually throws endings that makes you wonder on life i was quite wary of picking this book up. The author, Kim Edwards, knows how keep her reader interested and usually throws endings that makes you wonder on life itself.

I love it more than the Memory Keeper's Daughter. Jul 20, Mandybono rated it it was ok. Beautiful imagery, clean writing, and well crafted plots mark this collection of short stories. However, the writing is at times so clinical and cool that I felt too removed from the characters, and some of the stories left me emotionally unsatisfied. I would recommend it to read once and also as a tool to learn elements of the craft of writing, but it's not a book you could revisit often.