Cover image for King of the world
King of the world
Gerber, Merrill Joan.
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Publication Information:
Wainscott, N.Y. : Pushcart Press, [1989]

Physical Description:
276 pages ; 24 cm
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Based on actual events, this shattering novel about wife and child abuse is a work of art that haunts the reader's memory. Merrill Joan Gerber reveals the love affair of Ginny and her sensitive but horribly destructive lover, Michael. The pair adopts a child that Michael both loves and abuses. As Ginny struggles to rid herself of him and save her child, Michael becomes the incarnation of depravity.Winner of the Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award (nominated by Cynthia Ozick).

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Winner of the Eighth Annual Editors' Book Award for overlooked manuscripts, this somber novel was nominated by Cynthia Ozick. It is a powerful, sad, and haunting tale of love and madness. Ginny is a shy young woman afflicted with a severe spinal deformity. Her self-image is warped by this physical flaw, making her humble and weak. Enter Michael, handsome, strong, extravagantly emotional and sexual. They fall in love and marry; Ginny worships her husband. A tremendous sense of foreboding builds relentlessly as Michael's behavior becomes more and more irrational and violent. Gerber's perfectly balanced prose brings the reader inside both Ginny's and Michael's psyches. Her depictions of Ginny's fierce loyalty and Michael's complex madness are gripping. She effectively captures both the baffling fascination of insanity and the devouring aspect of love. This novel may have been "overlooked" by commercial publishers due to its deep sadness and complete lack of sensationalism. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

A mock coronation opens this brilliant novel about the harrowing but erotically charged 15-year marriage of fluttery Ginny and seductive, psychotic Michael Fisher, who dubs Ginny ``Queen of the World'' with a broken starfish, then drowns her dog on a rowboat trip. Lusting for control, Michael abuses Ginny and their adopted baby while claiming to love them, and squanders the family goods on get-rich schemes. The novel, set in California, exquisitely delineates the pair's mutual dependency: Ginny, with a malformed spine, insecure and fixated on a man who outrages the staid respectability of her Jewish parents; Michael, with his boiling sexuality and criminal behavior, gradually subsumed by madness and self-pity. Ginny's efforts to disentangle herself bring her to offbeat therapist Annie, then a job-training program and a shelter for battered women. Images of water--fishing, floating and drowning--converge in the couple's turbulent waterbed, which Michael finally slashes and nails to the bedroom wall. This newest novel by seasoned fiction writer Gerber ( Honeymoon ) won Pushcart's eighth annual Editors' Book Award. ( Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Cut off from her family and painfully insecure because of a curved spine, Ginny needs Michael's unexpected love. At first this love is tender, but it becomes more and more tyrannical. Michael was himself a victim of child abuse, and now his impotent rage masquerades as virility. Eventually his pathological behavior drives his wife and adopted child to a shelter for battered women. Gerber here counters Michael's growing depravity with Ginny's increasing strength and self-confidence. Though she displays the horrors of family violence with brutal frankness, she also provides many interior views that allow us to understand Michael's paranoia. Her story is emotionally powerful but never maudlin.-- Albert E. Wilhelm, Tennessee Technological Univ., Cookeville (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.