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The Dart League King: A Novel Paperback


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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: 7.2 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*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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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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I also found that authentic and he did a good job of creating the feel of it.
Kevin Liebkemann
People thought fat, beer drinking guys was a bad image for darts..having these useless characters involved with the sport is 100 times worse.
Brenda
From the first pages you become wrapped up in each of these very real characters' lives.
S. Beyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 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 2 people found the following review helpful By Clifford Garstang on October 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Dart League King is an engaging story, right from the beginning. All four of the main characters are at the same time repulsive and appealing. Despite Russell's being a drug-addicted loser, he knows his darts and is charming in his enthusiasm for the game. Tristan is smart and charming and has potential, but he's deeply flawed and aimless. Vince is a whacked-out jerk with a death wish that makes him sympathetic (at moments). And Brice--Brice is nice, but weird. The night of the big dart match is a huge sprawling mess that is fascinating to watch unfold.

And yet, my concern is that the story lacks focus. As a reader, I wanted to know whose story it was. Since we begin with Russell, that's who I wanted to care about, but constantly I was pulled away to Vince and Tristan and Brice. Is it meant to be the story of a lost, loser generation? Or is it Russell's story, as I think it really wants to be?

In any case, Morris is a terrific writer, and I'll definitely be reading more of his work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Zach Powers on September 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Once the clock starts in this novel, it moves ahead relentlessly, chugging towards, maybe not the sadness that you expect, but sadness nonetheless, and after a brief moment of all-is-right, all-is-resolved, it rebounds to punch you in the gut, a punch assisted by brass knuckles or a clenched roll of quarters. Morris is one of the best story craftsmen I know. All of his stories work in a way I can't place my finger on, but if it could in fact be fingered, it would reveal something essential of why we live chronologically, why we mark certain spots on the timeline as memorable, why we stop telling stories at a particular moment. What does it mean to end? It's a decision, and I trust no one more than Morris to make it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Barrett Coleman on May 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
I had many of the similar concerns that other reviewers had with this book; within the beginning pages, it seemed the author was adding superficial depth to the characters. After all, within the first 3 pages, someone was all ready doing a line of coke in the bathroom. The book didn't really seem real because of this.

After about 50 pages, that all changed for me. Each chapter is told through the view point of a certain character within a small town, and with each passing chapter, the characters grow and become more intricate than what it seemed like in the first few pages.

This book is in-between a fast-paced read as well as reflective commentary on the loneliness in our lives. The author does a good job of combining both to make it not only a book hard to put down, but one that allows for real connection with the characters.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MrKingsford on February 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Dart League King is a mostly well-written novel that grows increasingly suspenseful and fast paced as the reader progresses through the book. Morris weaves the plot together from the perspectives of several main characters whose lives, the reader will come to realize, are intricately intertwined. The tale begins with Russell, the well-meaning protagonist who is struggling to determine his identity as an adult and is currently willing to settle for being king of his small town dart league. His grasp on this title is threatened by the recent arrival of a former dart professional and an unstable drug dealer upset with Russell's inability to repay his debt. Add to this cast Tristan, a once promising college graduate who's dark secret will come to the forefront of this story, and Kelly, a single mother longing for a way out of this dead-end town.

It is in the development of several of these characters that Morris takes on more than he should have attempted in a story of this modest length. Vince, the drug dealer, is rendered with a heavy hand and I often found myself skimming through some of the longer passages told from his perspective. Brice, the former dart professional, has a unnecessary back story that is largely inconsequential to the events that transpire. The novel would have been better served by providing more depth to the characters of Kelly and Tristan, both of whom lack the complexity that Morris deftly develops in Russell.

The climax of the novel is riveting as Morris takes the reader quickly through the evening of the dart league championship. The conclusion of the novel leaves many questions unanswered, but it provides a firm enough nudge in the right direction that the reader is able to put together the pieces, rather than being left hopelessly adrift. It's rare for an author to achieve the delicate balance between a definitive conclusion and an open-ended question, but Morris gets it right, and the result is very satisfying.
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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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