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The King of Pain: A Novel with Stories Paperback – June 14, 2012
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
The use of language is excellent for example on reading a note from a woman colleague Rick says; `How can I read a woman's writing so easily and never f*** understand what's actually being said.'
I laughed out loud at the description of Shane, an investigator in Guantanamo prison, in one of the short stories, `He was pale. He was from Seattle, where the sun is a theoretical construct.'
The book also has a lot of serious points to make about the American modern television audiences, reality shows, and how far the programme producers will go to satisfy the same need that made people throng to the coliseum to see lions rip slaves apart. You can laugh one moment at the book and be horrified the next, but it is all within the realms of reality. The reality shows of today and the endurance/adventure type programmes are definitely heading this way. The style of switching between reflection by the main character and short stories throughout this narrative make the whole thing a very interesting read.
There is a satisfying ending which I won't spoil by saying anything about it. This is an original and witty work that I have no problem in recommending.
Through Rick's story, Kaufman skewers the world of reality television. "The King of Pain" puts its contestants through torturous trials--starvation, sleep deprivation, physical pain--and scores them based on their endurance and audience votes. Essentially, Rick--or Kaufman--has dreamed up a show in which all pretenses are abandoned and reality programming is distilled into its most basic element: drama through human suffering. Rick is well aware that humans have always held a perverse fascination with witnessing the travails of other people.
The stand-alone short stories that make up the book-within-a-book A History of Prisons read like fables, each painting a short but sweet vignette of one person's prison experience and highlighting elements such as karma, kismet, and irony. The Chinese dissident who writes letters for an illiterate cellmate. The protestor who goes on hunger strike. The African prison guard who finds the tables turned on him.
Meanwhile, in the "real" world, Rick has found the tables turned on him. Through his reality show, he has become a master of torture, putting the show's contestants through hell in order to captivate an audience. Now he's the one in hell, immobilized, dehydrated, and helpless, and we, the readers, are the audience.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A rare great one and if anyone was crazy enough to read my reviews they would know I don't speak lightly. Read morePublished 2 months ago by ST
I read Kaufman's fabulous Nuns With Guns and went back to read his previous novel, King of Pain. I think it works great reading them out of order, because NWG left me wanting to... Read morePublished 2 months ago by John Beier
Entertaining vacation read, with very interesting social questions raised for the reader in the stories within the story.Published 8 months ago by Thomas G
The included stories were quite good reads and the main story was funny. Not great literature, but great fun.Published 8 months ago by S. G. Zell
The book is a good study of a man who finds himself having to look closely at himself and reads several stories about finding inner peace.Published 8 months ago by Carlton O Phelps
... And i used that as my title because i nearly didn't give it a try due to so many reviewers not getting it. There WERE two or three typos. I HATE those. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Another Mitchell
I kept waiting for the humor to shine through and was getting pretty discouraged before I finally found a chuckle or two late in the book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Maypop Steve
Same experience as the first time I read Vonnegut, Robbins and Irving. Seth Kaufman is a gifted and entertaining storyteller and observer of the irony of being human. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Fire In The Henhouse