A powerful novel of love, madness, murder, and redemption, of politics and justice, Jim Lewis’s The King Is Dead is the story of two men–a father and a son–whose contrasting lives reflect the dramatic shifts in the last half century of American ...
half century of American life. It is a gripping narrative that combines the resonance of nineteenth-century fiction with the dazzling inventions of twenty-first-century storytelling: a book that brings Jim Lewis to the forefront of contemporary literature.
Walter Selby is a hero of World War II who has come home from the Pacific to a heady career in politics, as an aide to the new governor of Tennessee. In Memphis, he meets the witty and beautiful Nicole Lattimore in an enchanted encounter after a baseball game. They fall in love. They marry. They have two children and lead a charmed life among the well-to-do. Walter takes his place in American politics, experiencing up close the changes of his age. And then–when he must follow the governor’s orders to evict a homesteading black family from their land–we see his disillusionment. Walter resigns his post, only to come home to an even more devastating blow. The virtuous man snaps and commits a shocking crime.
But this is more than simply a story of crime and punishment. Now we turn to our own times–from the father to his son, Frank. Haunted by the great affair of his youth, which ended when the girl he loved lost her hold on reality, Frank has never come to terms with his own good fortune. He is a reluctant movie actor–a star, even–but finds his work increasingly unfulfilling. That is, until a mysterious director offers him an intriguing new role, and Frank sets out across the country–from New York to Tennessee to Texas, from Oklahoma City to Kansas City, and, finally, to Los Angeles–in pursuit of the true story of his family, of what has brought him to this fork in the road. The King Is Dead is a tale of generations, of the true meaning of origins. In a novel of startling originality–compassionate, deeply affecting, gorgeously descriptive, full of the rhythms of a changing America–Jim Lewis brings the mythic compellingly to life.