Wednesday, April 5, 2017

"The River of Kings"

Taylor Brown grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. His books include the story collection In the Season of Blood and Gold and the novel Fallen Land.

Brown applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The River of Kings, and reported the following:
Here is the whole of page 69 from The River of Kings:
Chapter 14

Darien, Georgia 1982

Annabelle waits on her porch, the moon hidden from sight, the night dark and starless as an enormous cave. She’s waiting for him to slink again from the water like the very first man, the way he always does on such nights. Shirtless, as he was the first time, and sweat-slick like she likes him, his body badged with ink, his mission secret as a commando’s. He will come. They will do it wherever they can. In the boatshed or against the side of the house. On the creek bank or bald-bodied in the yard, her husband dead to the world with drink.

Her blood is up, her toes splayed flat against the porch planks, kneading them. Here he is. The bow of her husband’s old johnboat, painted camouflage now, slides through the reeds at the edge of the creek. She stands and straightens the dress she wears, belted tight around her narrow waist, and slips on her white heels. Then she sits and lights a cigarette, letting one shoe dangle idly from her big toe. She looks away, opposite his direction, as if there is something more important in the pines and oaks.


He’s at the door. Slowly, she looks his way.

“I thought you weren’t coming.”

He looks her up, down.

“The fuck you did.”
The River of Kings takes place over three primary time lines:
  • Present Day: Hunter and Lawton Loggins, brothers who are kayaking the Altamaha River—Georgia’s “Little Amazon,” bearing their father’s ashes to the sea.
  • 1970s-1990s: The adult life of Hiram Loggins, the brothers’ father.
  • 1560s: The story of Jacques Le Moyne, the first European artist in the New World, who lived at a fort believed to built at the mouth of the Altamaha River.
The chapters rotate between these time lines. Page 69 is also the first page of Chapter 14, which gives us a window into the lifelong affair between the brothers’ father, Hiram Loggins, and Annabelle Mackintosh, a former debutante who ha fallen on hard times. This is the most minor of the time lines, so I would not call this page representative of the novel as a whole, but it is certainly representative of the relationship between Hiram and Annabelle. Hiram—a shrimper and drug smuggler—is a hard man to love. However, we see here the almost chemical reaction that Annabelle feels toward him, in spite of herself, perhaps. There is a parallel here with Hiram’s own sons—the protagonists of the novel—as they battle over the legacy of this man who was so had and abusive at times, and yet who taught them so much, shaping them into the men they have become. In that way, I think page 69 gives us insight into the novel as a whole.
Visit Taylor Brown's website.

My Book, The Movie: The River of Kings.

--Marshal Zeringue