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The Secrets of a Fire King: Stories Hardcover – March 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 234 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393040267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393040265
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,001,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Edwards's debut collection features 11 beguiling, exquisitely crafted tales of transformation and the challenges of love. 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's writing springs to life and exerts a peculiar magic over the reader, here it's somewhat diminished, less captivating and singular. 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's presentation does not vary with the stories, so after a while they begin to blend together. Listeners will appreciate Dunne's skillful handling of Edwards's poetic prose, but the production lacks any real sparks that would illuminate and complement the author's achievement of imagination in conjuring such different worlds so convincingly. A Penguin paperback (Reviews, Feb. 25, 1997).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

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 19-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. Recommended for all literary collections.?Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Md.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Kim Edwards is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Memory Keeper's Daughter, which was translated into thirty-eight languages. She is also the author of the New York Times bestselling novel, The Lake of Dreams, and a collection of short stories, The Secrets of a Fire King. Her honors include the Whiting Award, the British Book Award, and USA Today's Book of the Year, as well as the Nelson Algren Award, a National Magazine Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has taught widely in the US and Asia, and currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Customer Reviews

I look forward to reading more books by this author.
H. Hertzog
Some readers may like the watered down taste of Edwards' writing and characterization but I found it dull, repetitive and uninteresting.
Biblibio
Though some of the stories have a magical flair to them, the characters feel so real and alive.
Lola16

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By K.T. May on July 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was rummaging through the $5 book bin at Borders a few months ago and I stumbled across this hidden gem. The cover seemed interesting and then I noticed the author, Kim Edwards, the same woman who wrote, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter". I have also purchased that book but still have yet to read it. But I liked how the plot of that book sounded so I figured, why not? It's only $5--let me check this out. I opened it up to reveal soft, thin pages, which, for me, somehow always makes a book more enjoyable to read. I flipped through some of the pages to the middle to read an excerpt. This is my trick to get a quick glimpse of the author's style to determine if it would be something I would be interested in reading. The excerpt that I read seemed delightful. The author had a flair for description and wrote in such a way that when I traipse upon one of these delectable kinds of books, I feel like I am indulging in a guilty pleasure, a kind of expression not often enough incorporated into today's modern works. I was convinced enough to spend the money, so I picked up the book and it was the only thing I purchased that day.

The book spent a few months on my bookshelf as I went through a few other books that I deemed more interesting at the time. Then the time came that I just wanted to clear up some space and read some of the thinner books on my shelf, thereby slowly thinning out my collection. I noticed this book again and said, sure, why not? I sat down with it on my couch and was enraptured. I usually only read the first chapter of a book when I start to get a basic feel for the book. If I can stop then, I know it's nothing too special but if I continue on, I know I have found that rare book that so captures my attention that it will be a quick read and a long memory.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Grimard on September 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book had better writing than "Memory Keeper", and I am shocked at the reviews to the contrary. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William J. Feuer on May 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
If this book had been shy a few stories I would have given it 5 stars. Edwards writes well. The way she sequences words is often described as "exquisite" or something, but ultimately I got tired of her narrative voice and I think she ran out of material. Does a collection really need two stories featuring the poisonous effects of radium, unexpected at the time of its discovery? I highly recommend these: "Falling", "Spring, Mountain, Sea", "Chain of Being"; also good are "Balance" and "Fire King." "The Invitation" has a clever premise but wound up in the air (according to me). The rest, well... Ho hum. I was lucky enough to spend some time in peninsular Malaysia and Borneo but the stories concerned with that area got repetitive. Pet peeve: I wish these stories featured fewer "shafts of light." BTW, I subsequently found out that the stories I liked all seem to be freely available on [...].
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lola16 on November 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely beautiful. It's quirky and enchanting in it's own right. Though some of the stories have a magical flair to them, the characters feel so real and alive. The author manages to give you enough detail to make a connection in her brief stories (a true gift in my opinion) but not too much to where it overpowers the stories themselves. It's been a while since i've read this book and I lost it in a move so i'm about to buy it again because i find it so haunting. The stories are just so memorable and original, it's like hopping around the globe to take a peek into different lives and cultures.

A wonderful surprise from the sale bin!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Ritchey on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book after reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter. It wasn't quite what I expected, because each of the individual stories had very different tones - some of which were much darker than I was initially prepared for.
I'd recommend this book for taking with you on a trip, or for anything else where you'll have quite a few interruptions. You don't have to worry about losing threads of the story since they're so short.
Don't buy this collection of stories if you're looking for a feel-good read, but do if you want a thought provoking read.
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By Diane Mayfield on October 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author, Kim Edwards, will keep you on the edge of your chair as you read these amazing short stories. I recommend her works to all.
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Format: Audio CD
I was shopping at the Dollar Tree for some drain opener and ran across a bin of audio books. This looked the most interesting. I'm excited to have found it. My grandma has macular degeneration and loves audio books.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kim Edwards will not disappoint. Beautifully written short stories with odd, poignant twists, this collection is worth your time to read.
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