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Dart League King
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Keith Morris is one of my favorite fiction writers and "The Dart League King" is his best book yet. In his Idaho you can see the rest of America, in his Idahoans the rest of us Americans: funny, grave, profane, tender, violent, full of longing for something and someone we don't really deserve and will do almost anything to get anyway. I am in awe of this novel, this novelist.
-- Brock Clarke, author of "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England"
"What a testament it is to a splendid novelist's powers to pitch-perfectly create a small-town dart league and in doing so not only illuminate the zeitgeist but some universal truths to boot. "The Dart League King" is a nine-darter of a novel and Keith Lee Morris is a writer whose books I have promised myself never to skip."
-- Robert Olen Butler, author of "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain"
"Sign me up as a member of the Keith Lee Morris fan club. His characters are as real, fallible, and surprising as anyone I've ever met, and his novel has all the textures of real life: precarious, tender, and utterly engrossing."
-- Kelly Link, author of "Magic for Beginners"
"I would give my throwing arm to write a novel as tightly woven and fast and suspenseful and ultimately heartbreaking as "The Dart League King," Keith Lee Morris has created an edgy, perfect masterpiece, with more damn life in it than 99% of the books I've ever read. People will be reading and talking about "The Dart League King" for years to come. I'd wager a twelve-pack on it."
-- Donald Ray Pollock, author of "Knockemstiff"
"Morris is heir to the Richard Ford of "Rock Springs"; he has that rare gift of writing truthfully about people we knowand care for."
-- William Giraldi, "The Believer"
""The Dart League King" is no lullaby. This chilling novel pulled me right in and through. I see it as a mystery--told in reverse--a who-will-do-it as opposed to a whodunit, and Morris is perfectly suited to this task."
-- Julianna Baggott, author of "The Madam and Which Brings Me to You"
"In this absorbing and intelligent novel, Morris ("The Greyhound God") follows five characters through a handful of hours culminating in a dart contest on a Thursday night in Garnet Lake, Idaho: Russell Harmon, who lives for the dart league and his cocaine habit; teammate Tristan Mackey, who is haunted by having not prevented the drowning of a classmate; Kelly Ashton, who wants desperately for someone to rescue her and her young daughter from this small town; Russell's darts rival Brice Habersham, a DEA agent posing as the owner of a gas station; and drug dealer Vince Thompson, who, tonight, is carrying a 9mm Beretta to his meeting with Russell. As each chapter shifts from one voice to the next, Morris cranks up the tension so that by the time the dart match arrives, the book is impossible to put down. Morris explores how even the most banal choices we make--to get in the car or not?--can have a life-altering impact."
-- "Publishers Weekly," Starred Review and Pick of the Week
"This sensitive, cleverly constructed novel of small-town life and big-league dreams follows a cast of five in the hours leading up to a Thursday night dart contest. Russell Harmon, painfully aware of his unsuitability for the logging work that is the economic mainstay of Garnet Lake, Idaho, is banking all his self-esteem on retaining his title of Dart LeagueKing, although he has a couple of obstacles in his way. He owes a lot of money to the local drug dealer, the incredibly bad tempered Vince Thompson, who could very well show up at the big contest with a 9mm Beretta. Russell is facing a formidable opponent in Brice Habersham, who recently bought the town's gas station and was, at one time, a professional dart player. Even more distracting is the fact that intellectual college grad and fellow teammate Tristan Mackey has\ shown up with town hottie Kelly Ashton, Russell's old love. Secrets and surprises are revealed as the narrative shifts among the five voices, injecting the culminating chapters with an almost unbearable tension. All the while, Morris continues to draw a subtle, near flawless portrait of the unique ways that small-town life can both nurture and suffocate its residents."
-- Joanne Wilkinson, "Booklist" Starred Review, 9/15/2008
"Let there be no doubt that Keith Lee Morris knows the game...But the real strength of this book is in the prose and one might only hope to be as adept at their craft as is Morris...whatever your interest--be it darts, life or just a damn good read--"The Dart League King" is worth every penny."
-- Paul Seigel, "Dartoid 's World"
"Keith Morris is one of my favorite fiction writers and "The Dart League King" is his best book yet. In his Idaho you can see the rest of America, in his Idahoans the rest of us Americans: funny, grave, profane, tender, violent, full of longing for something and someone we don't really deserve and will do almost anything to get anyway. I am in awe of this novel, this novelist."
Brock Clarke, author of "An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England"
"What a testament it is to a splendid novelist's powers to pitch-perfectly create a small-town dart league and in doing so not only illuminate the zeitgeist but some universal truths to boot. "The Dart League King" is a nine-darter of a novel and Keith Lee Morris is a writer whose books I have promised myself never to skip."
Robert Olen Butler, author of "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain"
"Sign me up as a member of the Keith Lee Morris fan club. His characters are as real, fallible, and surprising as anyone I've ever met, and his novel has all the textures of real life: precarious, tender, and utterly engrossing."
Kelly Link, author of "Magic for Beginners"
"I would give my throwing arm to write a novel as tightly woven and fast and suspenseful and ultimately heartbreaking as "The Dart League King." Keith Lee Morris has created an edgy, perfect masterpiece, with more damn life in it than 99% of the books I've ever read. People will be reading and talking about "The Dart League King" for years to come. I'd wager a twelve-pack on it."
Donald Ray Pollock, author of "Knockemstiff"
"Morris is heir to the Richard Ford of "Rock Springs"; he has that rare gift of writing truthfully about people we know and care for."
William Giraldi, "The Believer"
""The Dart League King" is no lullaby. This chilling novel pulled me right in and through. I see it as a mysterytold in reversea who-will-do-it as opposed to a whodunit, and Morris is perfectly suited to this task."
Julianna Baggott, author of "The Madam and Which Brings Me to You"
"In this absorbing and intelligent novel, Morris ("The Greyhound God") follows five characters through a handful of hours culminating in a dart contest on a Thursday night in Garnet Lake, Idaho: Russell Harmon, who lives for the dart league and his cocaine habit; teammate Tristan Mackey, who is haunted by having not prevented the drowning of a classmate; Kelly Ashton, who wants desperately for someone to rescue her and her young daughter from this small town; Russell's darts rival Brice Habersham, a DEA agent posing as the owner of a gas station; and drug dealer Vince Thompson, who, tonight, is carrying a 9mm Beretta to his meeting with Russell. As each chapter shifts from one voice to the next, Morris cranks up the tension so that by the time the dart match arrives, the book is impossible to put down. Morris explores how even the most banal choices we maketo get in the car or not?can have a life-altering impact."
"Publishers Weekly," Starred Review and Pick of the Week
"This sensitive, cleverly constructed novel of small-town life and big-league dreams follows a cast of five in the hours leading up to a Thursday night dart contest. Russell Harmon, painfully aware of his unsuitability for the logging work that is the economic mainstay of Garnet Lake, Idaho, is banking all his self-esteem on retaining his title of Dart League King, although he has a couple of obstacles in his way. He owes a lot of money to the local drug dealer, the incredibly bad tempered Vince Thompson, who could very well show up at the big contest with a 9mm Beretta. Russell is facing a formidable opponent in Brice Habersham, who recently bought the town s gas station and was, at one time, a professional dart player. Even more distracting is the fact that intellectual college grad and fellow teammate Tristan Mackey has\ shown up with town hottie Kelly Ashton, Russell s old love. Secrets and surprises are revealed as the narrative shifts among the five voices, injecting the culminating chapters with an almost unbearable tension. All the while, Morris continues to draw a subtle, near flawless portrait of the unique ways that small-town life can both nurture and suffocate its residents."
Joanne Wilkinson, "Booklist" Starred Review, 9/15/2008
"A dark and deeply involving novel with a haunting moment on just about every page. Suspenseful, gritty, great." "McSweeney's"
"Let there be no doubt that Keith Lee Morris knows the game...But the real strength of this book is in the prose and one might only hope to be as adept at their craft as is Morris...whatever your interestbe it darts, life or just a damn good read"The Dart League King" is worth every penny."
Paul Seigel, "Dartoid 's World"
""The Dart League King" is an intelligent and compelling novel about how our past choices come to impact our life; and how our self-perception and self-deception colors our awareness of these choices."Kevin Holtsberry, Collected Miscellany
"With great economy of expression, Morris gets us hooked into their tales of sadness, terror, and joy, and creates an un-putdownable thriller." Sudheer Apte, Mostly Fiction Book Reviews
"It is as compelling a novel as I've read all year. Morris, like Martin Amis in the 1989 novel "London Fields," uses darts as a metaphor for striving by an inarticulate male protagonist, but also as a plot device to bring together five excruciatingly credible characters in a neatly crafted work bound for critical acclaim."Matt Davis, "The Portland Mercury"
"South Carolina-based writer/English professor Keith lee Morris gets Americansespecially the small town variety. The fiction writer's latest book, a tight weave of stories centered on an ill-fated Idaho bar league dart championship, is full of enraged dealers, do-good mothers and drifting small town souls. But it is Morris' knack for stark, funny dialogue and left-field plot twists that turn his work from caricature to a beautiful and brutal dissection of the drinking buddies you thought you knew." Kelly Clarke, Willamette Week"
"Morris manages to weave a tale that lasts for just one night but which the reader will remember for much longer...The penchant for driving the plot of his fast-paced mystery novel is what makes Morris an author to watch. Each of the main characters receives enough stage time for the reader to really care about how these characters end up by the book's end. The creatively titled sections, colorful dialogue and inventive usage of literary tactics...keep the wheels constantly whirring."Allison Stadd, BookBrowse.com
"As gripping as it is well-crafted and wise... Morris s words held my attention without fail... This book deserves as many readers as can get their hands on it."Drew Nellins, Bookslut
"Morris imagines characters that are so real, so human, so vulnerable, so damaged, that we feel like we are learning the dirty little secrets we always wanted to know about people we have observed but never really understood...This book breaks your heart in the end with a hair-rising descent into darkness. Keith Lee Morris hits the bullseye with The Dart League King."Vick Mickunas, "Dayton Daily News"
"This just might be the best book I've read this year. Morris skillfully weaves through the lives of five major characters, in a third person narration, as they struggle with their lives and with what they might and might not be able to control...Morris allows the reader into the minds of each of these characters and with each one he's written an almost perfect blend of positive and negative, or of confidence and worry...This was one I did not put down after I had read the first two or three sectionsMorris had me hooked and didn't let go, and really still hasn't."Dan Wickett, Emerging Writers Network
"Morris seamlessly weaves this dark tale using different points of view, alternating the first-person vantage point through the thoughts and actions of each character. Through this effect we get to know each person more intimately, and in this way we care what happens to each one."Bob Cunningham, the "Toledo Blade"
"["The Dart League King"] is at once compact and expansive, driven equally by character and plot, as Morris plumbs the secrets and heartaches of five residents of Garnet Lake, Idaho...The novel is propelled by sentences that reach forand achievea vigorous, colloquial elegance...The result is a novel that crackles with lifea story that is as dynamic as it is compressed."Laura Van Der Berg, The Rumpus.net
"Morris offers a thrilling literary page-turner that examines the lives of five characters suffering through a stormy summer dart league night at the 321 Club in Garnet Lake, Idaho. The book embodies the agony and the joy of unintended consequences with a nail-biter of a plot and prose that zings and flies and hits home hard with the thump of a well-thrown dart."Glenn Lester, storySouth.com
"Unpredictable, never obvious."Diana P. Jordan
"Morris directs us into the minds of these characters...Morris allows their confessions to jolt the book so powerfully." Ashley Warlick, The Greenville News
"The Dart League King is really about the beauty and pain of the small decisions (good and bad) that define us, and about how something as simple as a mountain lake can contain in equal parts the poetry of the ideal, the mundane, and the terrible."Nicole Backens, "Colorado Review"
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