King Perry by Edmond Manning
Title: King Perry
Author: Edmond Manning
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press, February 2012
King Perry, by Edmond Manning, published by DSP, is the kind of book that, when telling someone else about it, is difficult to describe. Perry Mangin is an investment banker who has become a little too comfortable with his routines, a little too comfortable with day-to-day life, and a little too numb to go after what he needs. But there’s a spark in him. It’s a spark Vin Vanbly, a mechanic on vacation in San Francisco, recognizes during their first interaction.
But that’s not the beginning of his acquaintance with Perry. Not by a long shot. Vin is determined to see that spark detonate into fireworks. His plans include a whirlwind weekend where he takes Perry to terrific heights, horrible lows, and pushes every button Perry has, forcing him on a journey so profound it is life changing. Vin wants to king Perry.
The beginning of the book starts innocuously enough: a gallery showing for an artist whose work is being showcased posthumously by his son, Perry. It’s here we get our first glimpse of Vin, his bizarre sense of humor, his strange and compelling thought processes. This is the moment, the crux of the book, where Perry decides to take or leave Vin’s offer of a fantastic, sex-filled weekend of self-discovery. But wait, isn’t the crux of the book when Perry decides whether or not to get on the ferry with Vin? Except, perhaps, the crux is when Perry returns to Vin’s side after walking off in a rage over the remains of the cake. (Don’t know what I mean? You’ll have to read it, because I’d sound like an idiot trying to explain.)
What would you risk to find a lost king? And what if he doesn’t remember you?
And so it begins… Vin asks Perry to take just one more step, and another, and c’mon, it’s only one more step and you’ve come this far… resulting in the most incredible, embarrassing, sexy, rage-inducing, confidence-boosting, uplifting weekend of Perry’s life. First, it’s a simple trip to Alcatraz. Then it’s not so simple. Then, it’s terrifying. Then it’s exhilarating. Then, it’s simple again, with the promise of breakfast. Oh, but breakfast with Vin couldn’t ever be simple…
All the while, Vin spins a story about the Lost Kings and the Found Kings and what happens when a Lost King becomes found: The joy. The celebration. The complete profundity. It’s staggering. I cannot even try to describe the story of the Lost and Founds.
At first, I wasn’t sure about Vin. I thought he was a little strange, a lot pushy, and I couldn’t fathom what he was up to. I don’t typically like books where I’m on edge, not quite understanding and being expected to trust where it’s going. It’s unsettling. I was uncomfortable. I didn’t like the danger Perry felt he was in. I didn’t appreciate the embarrassment I felt on Perry’s behalf. Walk like a bear in a crowded street? What purpose does that serve? There was a mention of famous ducks, and I lost any hope I had a clue what this book was about.
But by that point, I was invested. I was intrigued, even if I did squirm in my seat while reading. Something began to happen. I opened up to it. I accepted that I didn’t have to know what to expect, but Vin seemed to know what he was doing, and I had to trust that it would work out. In hindsight, I did exactly what Perry was doing: learning to believe.
By the end, the characters left such an impression on me I was shouting at my Kindle, yelling commentary at it like the book could answer me, like Vin would hear me and tell me I had to have faith in Bolinas and I’d know soon enough. It was infuriating! I loved it! To not like books where I’m off guard and can’t tell what’s going to happen? What’s wrong with me that I don’t recognize that for the rush it is!? Yeah, I was incredibly unsettled, but that meant all my preconceived notions about what King Perry would become were shattered. I found myself believing in the story, the characters, and in Vin… annoying, manipulative, conniving, endearing, exciting, sympathetic beautiful human being that he is.
This wasn’t just a book, it was a journey. It was profound. It was so well written, so descriptive, I ached. Not only does Perry make the journey with Vin, his story takes us, the reader, on the same trip, through the same emotions, and eventually, to the end.
I’ll admit it, I cried. Like a baby. And it was cathartic, joyful crying that left me weak and hopeful and smiling. If stories in this genre were in the habit of being picked up by Hollywood, this should be on a silver screen.
This book doesn’t have a traditional HEA where the two lovers commit to eternity. Vin’s gifts are meant to be shared. So yeah, no HEA. It doesn’t need one. It’s perfect the way it is.