For Kings and Planets by Ethan Canin
A Novel

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Ethan Canin is one of America's finest writers.  He has been called "brilliant" by the Los Angeles Times, "a tremendous talent" by the Chicago Sun-Times, and "dazzling" by Walker Percy.  The bestselling author of The Palace Thief and Emperor of the Air now gives us this stunning new novel, For Kings and Planets.

"Years later, Orno Tarcher would think of his days in New York as a seduction.  A seduction and a near miss, a time when his memory of the world around him --the shining stone stairwells, the taxicabs, the sea of nighttime lights--was glinting and of heroic proportion.  Like a dream."  So begins this remarkable novel about the lives of two young men and the women they love.

Orno Tarcher arrives in New York City from a small town in Missouri, feeling unsophisticated and disadvantaged by his family's bedrock values.  He meets Marshall Emerson, the charismatic gem of a worldly family, a seductive and brilliant New Yorker who is revealed, as time passes, to be bent on destruction.  The novel explores with depth and sophistication the conflicts of character at the heart of every life, the desire for grandeur and the lure of normalcy, the tension between rivalry and friendship, fathers and sons, love and betrayal.  For Kings and Planets is the story of a man  who thinks of himself as moral, who tests his character against power, deception, and seduction.  It is also the story of a friendship fractured by love.

For Kings and Planets is a remarkable achievement, another fiction classic by the writer who has been called "a worthy successor to...Philip Roth, Elizabeth Bishop, and Robert Penn Warren."

About Ethan Canin

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Ethan Canin is the author of six books, including the story collections Emperor of the Air and The Palace Thief and the novels For Kings and Planets and Carry Me Across the Water. He is on the faculty of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and divides his time between Iowa and northern Michigan. He is also a physician.
Published March 6, 2013 by Random House. 352 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Only gradually does Orno begin to sense Marshall’s darker side: he discovers that Marshall has spread lies about him, and even worked to sabotage his romance with a follow student.

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Publishers Weekly

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Though Marshall abandons him for months at a time, Oren is always freshly seduced when his mercurial friend lures him from diligent study to debauched gatherings and sexual liaisons, bringing Oren into contact with something chaotic and undisciplined in his own nature.

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Not surprisingly, Canin's best writing—and here it's superb—occurs when he is limning worlds unknown to Orno, like that of Marshall's exotic childhood in Turkey.

Sep 21 1998 | Read Full Review of For Kings and Planets: A Novel

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