Today I finished listening to All The King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren on audio book and I LOVED it. In fact, I knew even before I reached the end that it was going to go on my Favorites shelf. It was just that good. The writing is poetic, the characters are memorable, and book is chock full of interesting themes and contrasting ideas. Most of all, though, I love Jack Burden.
This is the story of Willie Stark, an idealistic politician who slowly become becomes the very thing he fought against to get elected as he strives to amass power and make a difference. However, this is even more the story of his right hand man and the narrator of this book, Jack Burden. Jack comes across as a devil-may-care cynic, but deep inside he is an idealist. He is thoughtful, emotional, and struggles to find purpose for his actions. His character change in this book is remarkable and multilayered. He is truly an intriguing, relatable character. There wasn’t a single part where I genuinely got angry at him or didn’t understand where he was coming from. The author may take him dramatically in one direction…but never too far. He is never irredeemable. He is too self-aware for that.
Anyway, Jack Burden has officially become one of my favorite literary characters and my new BFF. I really liked this book and there are many reasons, but I will wait to expound more on them in my end of the year 5 star book review post. For now, I’ll just say that this is one of my new favorites, but I hesitate to recommend it because there is language and some graphic scenes. Tread with care. If you do decide to take the plunge, enjoy this multilayered book with its stories within stories. It may be long but it is worth it.