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The Dart League King: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this absorbing and intelligent novel, Morris (The Greyhound God) follows five characters through a handful of hours culminating in a dart contest on a Thursday night in Garnet Lake, Idaho: Russell Harmon, who lives for the dart league and his cocaine habit; teammate Tristan Mackey, who is haunted by having not prevented the drowning of a classmate; Kelly Ashton, who wants desperately for someone to rescue her and her young daughter from this small town; Russell's darts rival Brice Habersham, a DEA agent posing as the owner of a gas station; and drug dealer Vince Thompson, who, tonight, is carrying a 9mm Beretta to his meeting with Russell. As each chapter shifts from one voice to the next, Morris cranks up the tension so that by the time the dart match arrives, the book is impossible to put down. Morris explores how even the most banal choices we make—to get in the car or not?—can have a life-altering impact. (Oct.)
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*Starred Review* This sensitive, cleverly constructed novel of small-town life and big-league dreams follows a cast of five in the hours leading up to a Thursday night dart contest. Russell Harmon, painfully aware of his unsuitability for the logging work that is the economic mainstay of Garnet Lake, Idaho, is banking all his self-esteem on retaining his title of Dart League King, although he has a couple of obstacles in his way. He owes a lot of money to the local drug dealer, the incredibly bad tempered Vince Thompson, who could very well show up at the big contest with a 9mm Beretta. Russell is facing a formidable opponent in Brice Habersham, who recently bought the town’s gas station and was, at one time, a professional dart player. Even more distracting is the fact that intellectual college grad and fellow teammate Tristan Mackey has shown up with town hottie Kelly Ashton, Russell’s old love. Secrets and surprises are revealed as the narrative shifts among the five voices, injecting the culminating chapters with an almost unbearable tension. All the while, Morris continues to draw a subtle, near flawless portrait of the unique ways that small-town life can both nurture and suffocate its residents. --Joanne Wilkinson

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Tin House Books; 1st U.S. Ed edition (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979419883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979419881
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,413,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Beyer on September 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
Morris once again creates characters that are so true and real that it's scarey. From the first pages you become wrapped up in each of these very real characters' lives. The story takes place in one life altering night. All the characters fates are interwoven creating a suspense that builds steadily until the final chapters when you can't put it down. This novel would make an excellent suspense movie!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Zelie Nic on November 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I probably wouldn't have picked this book up on my own. As it was, my dad (who is a big dart player) bought it because it had "darts" in the title. He read it, liked it, but also thought that I would like it because of the writing. So he lent it to me, and I sat on it for a couple weeks before I cracked it open.

Initially I wasn't too impressed. Sure, the guy knew darts, but I thought the whole coke thing was just an attempt to give his characters some false sense of depth. However, about fifty pages into the story, there's a drowning scene that just really hit me; really jarred me because the victim had annoyed me, but I was sympathetic. I mean, (and if you've not read the book I'm trying to be as vague as I possibly can so I don't give much away) the lady didn't annoy me so much as I understood the character from whose perspective Morris was writing from in the chapter... but when she drowns... "man," I thought, "how cold."

That point in the story had me re-evaluate my whole opinion of the characters in the book. All of the characters are believable, quirky, a bit gritty, but human. Exception: it took me a while to consider a twenty-three year old a realistic prospect for the head of a dart league; a post normally filled by middle-aged guys.

I'd check out another Keith Morris book in the future.
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By Karen Lea Hansen on December 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
I had zero expectations when I started reading "The Dart League King" by Keith Lee Morris. It was one of the books that I had bought at the Tin House booth at the LA Times Festival of Books. I love Tin House and totally bought it on a whim, without really reading the synopsis. It was fantastic.

I don't want to give away any details, but the book primarily takes place on the evening of the Dart Championship in a small town in Idaho. All of the characters lives intersect and some major secrets are revealed. The book has a very big twist ending that I did not anticipate. Morris had a beautiful way of tying up the story with epilogue. It's a really sad novel, with a lot of harsh realities and a few gruesome moments. I feel like it will stick with me, as I have been really thinking about it a lot in the past twenty-four hours.

One minor thing, the end of the book has the list of Dart League rules, as drafted by the main character. I wish this had been placed at the beginning of the book, as I did not clearly understand some of the rules. If I had realized that it was in the back and in no way compromised the integrity of the story, I would have used it for reference
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Frank Paul Venis on December 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Morris has a real gift for breathing life into characters. He achieves this by giving them very human aspiration and even more human limitations. Each chapter is written in the voice of one of the main characters and almost all of them are pitch-perfect. To summarize the chracters they are: a lovable loser, a fading prom queen, an intellectual loner, a principled narc and a raging mad dealer (the only character who, for me, was occasionally overdone). Morris puts these five souls on a crash course for one another and give each of them something to want, and in turn something for the readers to cheer for.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This really is a nice and fun read. I'm not sure that this is why Morris sets all his books in Idaho, but it could be because we don't know what the people who live there are like. Either way, I'm guessing he nails it as these characters are, with all their flaws, very believable.

Let me put it another way, I've read this book four times and I hate reading. Then I lent it to someone and they never gave back so I bought another copy for no other reason than to have a copy again.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By frank c. on January 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
I think this was a great book. The characterizations were fabulous. I really liked the different points of view presented and was hooked on the story. The suspense built all the way through the story, and I could not put it down. It was an very entertaining way to spend a snowy day in New England. You do not have to be a dart player on know anything about darts to enjoy this book>
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By JZ on September 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
helo..... i am not a good in inglish language sorry......... i am from place name of ukrayina........... i am not good on computer..... i came on here for buy big knife to kill bear that come and steal my kalbasa........ i kill with hands usually but i am 93 now not strong like when i was devotchka................ when i see this little knishka i think it was instruction for knife............ i ask my great grand son for help............ he say 'nyet babushka this is instruction for dart'................ i do not know what is dart i ask what is dart............. he does not know.......... i ask my whole village nobody know what is dart............. blyat.......... i decide i need make fone call............. i call igor in america ask what is dart............. 'yob tvayo mat babushka idi kushai borsch'............... lucky man he is in america i kill him with one finger................... then russian mafia come in my house and try kill me for illegal possession of fone......... i drop vodka and throw my tapachka........ i let them take stupid fone........ i am missing the days of soviet union.......... this instruction book give me so many problem.......
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