The Locusts Have No King

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Steerforth Press, Nov 8, 2011 - Fiction - 303 pages
2 Reviews
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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Gold_Gato - LibraryThing

Dawn Powell writes of New York City at its very peak, post-WWII, mid-20th century. Skyscrapers, badass automobiles, Radio City Music Hall, cafeterias. I swear that when you read this book, you'll hear ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - richardderus - LibraryThing

Book Circle Reads 75 Rating: 4.5* of five The Book 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 ... Read full review


  journey into the jukebox 
  the human dynamos 
  the invulnerables 
  a dozen white shirts 
  the prisoners in great form 
  moonlight on Rubberleg Square 
  the hideout 
  the banquetbeagles 
  the trade analysts 
  the black magic 
the foul weather friends in fair weather 
  the brick in the bouquet 
  SundaySchool for Scandal 
  the baby skin 
  variations on a jukebox theme 
  the blue plate reunion 

  young Olliver 
  lesson in acting 
  the revenge on love 
  cats out of the bag 
  the octupus named Virgil 
  voyage through the sky 
  sweet kid on the make 
  the calendar slogans 
  the buzzard is the best flyer 
  more like sisters 
  the mosaic 
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About the author (2011)

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! Numerous Powell’s novels have now been reissued by Steerforth Press along with editions of her plays, diaries 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.

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 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.

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