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The Locusts Have No King

The Locusts Have No King

Paperback

By (author) Dawn Powell

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  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Format: Paperback | 303 pages
  • Dimensions: 135mm x 198mm x 23mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 10 January 2000
  • Publication City/Country: Hanover
  • ISBN 10: 1883642426
  • ISBN 13: 9781883642426
  • Sales rank: 702,981

Product description

No one has satirized New York society quite like Dawn Powell, and in this classic novel she turns her sharp eye and stinging wit on the literary world, and "identifies every sort of publishing type with the patience of a pathologist removing organs for inspection." Frederick Olliver, an obscure historian and writer, is having an affair with the restively married, beautiful, and hugely successful playwright, Lyle Gaynor. Powell sets a see-saw in motion when Olliver is swept up by the tasteless publishing tycoon, Tyson Bricker, and his new book makes its way onto to the bestseller lists just as Lyle's Broadway career is coming apart. "For decades Dawn Powell was always just on the verge of ceasing to be a cult and becoming a major religion." -"- Gore Vidal"

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Author information

Ten years after Steerforth launched the Dawn Powell revival, her five best-selling novels are being reissued in newly designed Zoland Books editions with Reading Group Guides inside. Late in life, out of luck and fashion, Henry James predicted a day when all of his neglected novels would kick off their headstones, one after another. As the twentieth century came to an end, the works of Dawn Powell managed the same magnificent task. When Powell died in 1965, virtually all her books were out of print. Not a single historical survey of American literature mentioned her, even in passing. And so she slept, seemingly destined to be forgotten - or, to put it more exactly, never to be remembered. How things have changed! Twelve of Powell's novels have now been reissued, along with editions of her plays, diaries, letters, and short stories. She has joined the Library of America, admitted to the illustrious company of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Adams, Frederick Douglass, and Edith Wharton. She is taught in college and read with delight on vacation. For the contemporary poet and novelist Lisa Zeidner, writing in The New York Times Book Review, Powell "is wittier than Dorothy Parker, dissects the rich better than F. Scott Fitzgerald, is more plaintive than Willa Cather in her evocation of the heartland, and has a more supple control of satirical voice than Evelyn Waugh." For his part, Gore Vidal offered a simple reason for Powell's sudden popularity: "We are catching up to her." Tim Page, Powell's biographer, from his new foreword to My Home Is Far Away, Dawn Powell was born in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, on November 28, 1896, the second of three daughters. Her father was a traveling salesman, and her mother died a few days after Dawn turned seven. After enduring great cruelty at the hands of her stepmother, Dawn ran away at the age of thirteen and eventually arrived at the home of her maternal aunt, who served hot meals to travelers emerging from the train station across the street. Dawn worked her way through college and made it to New York. There she married a young advertising executive and had one child, a boy who suffered from autism, then an unknown condition. Powell referred to herself as a "permanent visitor" in her adopted Manhattan and brought to her writing a perspective gained from her upbringing in Middle America. She knew many of the great writers of her time, and Diana Trilling famously said it was Dawn "who really says the funny things for which Dorothy Parker gets credit." Ernest Hemingway called her his "favorite living writer." She was one of America's great novelists, and yet when she died in 1965 she was buried in an unmarked grave in New York's Potter's Field. Her books live, and with these newly designed editions, with their reading group guides inside, more people than ever before will be able to hear Dawn's distinctive voice.

Review quote

"The 1948 tale of a scholar's roller-coaster affair with a married society type is an anguished love story, a reversal-of-fortune parable, and a blistering satire that rings true today--cynical columnists, silly socialites, sinister nighthawks, all in one gorgeous Deco package." --Borish Kachka", Bloomberg Businessweek " "Dawn Powell once wrote that although her writing might occasionally concern itself with serious matters, there was never any need to get heavy-handed about it. "The Locusts Have no King", first published in 1948, is a stellar example of this quasi-manifesto. Like all Powell's novels, it glides, fast but deep, from the first sentence to the last, written with impeccable finesse and a flawless ear, never grinding its wheels or getting lost in egotistical undergrowth. For all its sweetness and light, "Locusts" is an intelligent, hard-headed, clear-eyed, examination of art, love, ruthlessness, infidelity, commerce, ambition, betrayal, and destruction. It is, in short, a quintessential New York novel. . . . The whole novel still rings as true now as it must have more than half a century ago." -- Kate Christensen, author of "The Epicure's Lament" and other novels in "Barnes & Noble Review". ""The Locusts Have No King" is one of Powell's finest novels and better than anything currently on the bestseller lists." --" Library Journal" (Classic Returns column, 1995)

Editorial reviews

Once again a conversation piece which, in taunting terms and with waspish malice, presents New York's literary and night life of the name and fame conscious, their representatives who may make their mark in print but never scratch a genuine emotion. Among them are Frederick Olliver, an obscure writer who liked his solitude but sold out to a name magazine and the social functions of Lyle, whom he loves; Lyle, who stayed married to invalided Allan because he was important to her success; Beckley, the money patron of the intelligentsia; Murray, Frederick's apartment mate who turned the apartment into a hornet's nest of women; and Dodo, a pouting ingenue of twenty-two who likes Frederick as a passe-partout to this world better than in bed. Frederick's over-abuse at the hands of Lyle turns him to Dodo who completes his downfall when she leaves him, while Lyle gets her comeuppance as her husband walks out with another woman, leaving Lyle and Frederick to pick up the pieces together... Those who like Dawn Powell will find her in full voice, sharp, bitter, worldly as it may be. (Kirkus Reviews)

Back cover copy

In this classic satire by the writer Gore Vidal once called "our best comic novelist", Dawn Powell takes on the New York publishing world and dissects it "with the patience of a pathologist removing organs for inspection". Frederick Olliver, obscure historian and writer, is having an affair with the restively married, beautiful, and hugely successful playwright, Lyle Gaynor. Powell sets in motion a see-saw as Olliver's new book becomes a surprising success just as Lyle's Broadway career comes unraveled.

Flap copy

NO ONE HAS SATIRIZED New York society quite like Dawn Powell, and in this classic novel she turns her sharp eye and stinging wit on the literary world, and "identifies every sort of publishing type with the patience of a pathologist removing organs for inspection." Frederick Olliver, an obscure historian and writer, is having an affair with the restively married, beautiful, and hugely successful playwright, Lyle Gaynor. Powell sets a see-saw in motion when Olliver is swept up by the tasteless publishing tycoon, Tyson Bricker, and his new book makes its way onto to the bestseller lists just as Lyle's Broadway career is coming apart. "For decades Dawn Powell was always just on the verge of ceasing to be a cult and becoming a major religion." -"- Gore Vidal