On the morning of Vernon’s death, Audie and Creed knew something was wrong. For years Vernon had been wetting the bed that the brothers shared, but on that particular morning the bed was dry and Vernon was cold. Assuming he had finally passed from an undiagnosed form of cancer, the brothers are somewhat indifferent, but less than understanding, when a medical examiner raises questions about Vernon’s death. The burst blood vessels on Vernon’s nose suggest strangulation. Now the brothers’ simple lives, their oddities previously acknowledged and ignored are under scrutiny.
A gritty novel that sporadically spans six decades, Jon Clinch’s “Kings of the Earth,” begins with the death of Vernon Proctor at age 64. Vernon spent his life living with his brothers, Audie and Creed, in the two-room farmhouse they were raised in by their beloved mother and hard-drinking father. Their baby sister, Donna, left the farm at a young age to pursue her education, but the brothers remained, long after their parents died.
Loosely based on a true story, this stark narrative explores the unspoken, tight bonds of family. The story is fragmented and pieced together from multiple perspectives that poignantly shift; details about the Proctor family and a side-by-side brotherhood slowly emerge. Perfect for late autumn reading, burrow into this book, and appreciate its quiet revelations. The Proctor brothers’ life, and the life of those around them, is captivating, tragic and unforgettable.
– Reviewed by Erin Wallace, adult services librarian at Lewiston City Library.
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