Sunday, July 6, 2014


KING PERRY by Edmond Manning

Pages: 343
Date: 06/07/2014
Grade: 6
Details: no. 1 The Lost and Founds
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

“In a trendy San Francisco art gallery, out-of-towner Vin Vanbly witnesses an act of compassion that compels him to make investment banker Perry Mangin a mysterious offer: in exchange for a weekend of complete submission, Vin will restore Perry's "kingship" and transform him into the man he was always meant to be.

 Despite intense reservations, Perry agrees, setting in motion a chain of events that will test the limits of his body, seduce his senses, and fray his every nerve, (perhaps occasionally breaking the law) while Vin guides him toward his destiny as "the one true king."

Even as Perry rediscovers old grief and new joys within himself, Vin and his shadowy motivations remain enigmas: who is this offbeat stranger guiding them from danger to hilarity to danger? To emerge triumphant, Perry must overcome the greatest challenge alone: embracing his devastating past. But can he succeed by Sunday's sunrise deadline? How can he possibly evolve from an ordinary man into King Perry?

A Bittersweet Dreams title: It's an unfortunate truth: love doesn't always conquer all. Regardless of its strength, sometimes fate intervenes, tragedy strikes, or forces conspire against it. These stories of romance do not offer a traditional happy ending, but the strong and enduring love will still touch your heart and maybe move you to tears.”


My thoughts:

I bought this book on the basis of a quote:

“...have you ever done anything so significantly outrageous, so beautiful and insane, that on days when your life feels dull, these shining moments leap out? Do you have an answer to the question ‘Did I live? Did I touch the world?’”
The quote was posted on Facebook by A.J. Rose an author I adore and who consistently blows me away with his words and stories. If he was quoting and recommending a certain book, I didn’t need any further encouragement. I bought the book, started reading and got lost in a world I didn’t know existed. And, as my rating above shows, it was one of my better decisions – even if it did disrupt every plan I had for my weekend. I do not give a book six out of five very often. When I do it is a sure indication the book has touched me in ways I wasn’t expecting and won’t forget.

Before you read on let me warn you; this is not going to resemble a review. This post won’t be like my usual reflections on books. It’s going to be too long, contain too many quotes and won’t stop gushing.

This is the sort of review where I flounder, find myself lost for words. Not a single one of the words I know (in two languages), no sentence I could string together can convey what this book did to me, or live up to the wonderful beauty and powerful expressiveness of the words in ‘King Perry’. Or, as it says in the book:

“Can anyone articulate the language of the heart?”

I’m not going to say a whole lot about the actual story. You can read what you need to know in the blurb and the rest should be experienced. Yes, experienced; you don’t read this book, you live it. You feel every single emotion, see the sights and get lost and found in the wonder of it all. You may put the book down (always reluctantly) because there is something you really need to do, it won’t mean you’ve put the story down; it will accompany you, pull at you and make you hurry through your task to get back to it.

The image of the Kings and Queens losing their lustre, forgetting their power was as heartbreaking as it was recognisable. It is an inescapable fact of life that all of us encounter the end of innocence sooner or later. At some point all of us find ourselves face to face with the real world, suddenly forced to exchange our dreams for the stark reality of having to make our own way. When the things we considered certainties in our lives are suddenly taken away we all have to reassess who we are and how we live. Some of us might wish we had a Vin to help us along. Regardless of his methods.

“They forgot that they served a higher mission, lived in devotion to a kingdom where all men were necessary and equally blessed. Many became lost.”

“This is what the remaining kings called them, the Lost Kings or the Lost Ones. Men who forgot their gold vanishing into a world that looks much like our own.”

On the surface this is the story of Vin saving Perry from himself, from the darkness he’s allowed himself to get lost in, from the pain that has become so familiar he doesn’t even know he’s carrying it with him anymore.

“When Perry sees his gray-suited grief, he barely recognises that part of himself; it’s just another bank customer making his regular withdrawal.”

“I think long ago, Perry’s heart made unwelcome room for sadness, and then believing that it could handle no more, slammed itself shut, preventing joy’s free roam.”

Dig a little bit deeper and the story is about Vin as much as it is about Perry. Perry isn’t the only one who needs to start looking at himself and his life in a new, brighter, light. While Vin may know he has work to do, I think there are a few things about himself he doesn’t see; things that are obvious to those he helps and easy to spot for the reader.

Can a story be whimsically profound or profoundly whimsical? If there is such a thing, this book is its prime example. I think Edmond Manning may have broken every single rule anybody ever established with regard to writing and created something exquisite in the process. His descriptions spring to life before your eyes.

“Staring at these hills already blanketed in soft mist, a person might believe that the land got jealous of the ocean’s whale population and created these hills in loving imitation.”

“The sun seems fascinated to get closer to this paradise landscape, and keeps dropping half inch by half inch in the west. Tenderly he flies to his lover, the Ocean, who twists in delight with his imminent arrival. ‘Patience, my love,’ the Sun whispers in long golden rays. ‘Soon I am yours.’”

And his insights on subjects such as joy, kissing, forgiveness, and the loss of a loved one are almost overwhelming; too close to the truth. They hit home, make you sit up and think, examine your own experiences and your reactions to them.

“I think Joy sleeps in strange places. We’re always looking for her in shiny, happy, fun times, assuming that Joy prefers her twin brother, Pleasure, when she often hangs out with her somewhat stoic big sister, Strength. Joy is not always easy to recognize, dirt-smudged and sweating, brambles in her hair. I want to believe she sometimes wears a ski mask.”

“Kissing is such a surreal way to interact. You press your squishiest part to his and read the connection in a dozen ways: the level of affection, the warmth of feeling, the need to dominate, the ability to explore, and various shades of hesitancy. All that communication from such a slender little strip of flesh.”

“I wonder sometimes why we don’t have more words to express forgiveness. The words we use are so trite, so limited. How do you describe that first melting of a friend’s face after a vicious fight, the moment when you suddenly know that eventually, you will survive this. (...) The body expresses forgiveness before the brain agrees. Where are the words for those shifts that later evolve into full forgiveness.”

“But people underestimate how a father’s death impacts a young boy. They don’t understand what it means when the man you assumed would teach you everything suddenly doesn’t exist. He doesn’t die exclusively that one time when everyone wore black and cried. He dies every birthday. He dies at school award presentations when he’s not beaming amid the proud parents, and when that horny teenager has no one to avoid for awkward discussions of wet dreams. His father dies every time Perry says, ‘Don’t worry, that happened back when I was a kid. I’m over it.’”

Oh my God. The ‘forgiveness castle’ took my breath away. That has to be one of the most beautiful and profound tales (fables?) I’ve ever read. Goose bumps, admiration and wonder only begin to describe how I felt when I read those words. I would love to share them here but can’t help feeling that this review is by now more than long enough. Besides, if the quotes above haven’t tempted you yet, one more won’t make a difference.

This is a life affirming story, a fable to make you think about how you approach life, what is holding you back and all the things you’ve allowed to stand between yourself and true happiness. This book asks you to open your eyes to your past, your present and what you want for the future. It forces you to look at yourself and ask if you truly are being your best self, living your best life.

I’m delighted a sequel to this wonderful book is already available. I’ve just bought it and although I’m tempted to read it straight away I won’t. I need some time to allow this story to settle inside me. I also want to be able to read ‘King Mai’ with as few interruptions as possible and that’s the sort of commitment I can’t make for another 13 days.

This may well be the longest review I’ve ever written and yet I feel it doesn’t begin to convey all my feelings about the book. Like I said above, I just don’t have the words to articulate everything I feel. I will say that Edmond Manning has found himself a loyal fan for life, just as I have found an author I need to read and share with the world.

I’ll end this review with one more quote because it is a truth I was brought up on and something I always try to remember.

“It hurts to live with a broken promise.”

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