I grabbed a copy of The King of Pain by Seth Kaufman and narrated by George Kuch, mostly because of the blurb and call-outs on the cover which promised me it was “riotously funny”. Perhaps it wasn’t to my sense of humour but “funny” wasn’t my take away from this book.
By no means am I saying I didn’t enjoy it, in fact, I found myself trying to sneak in my earbuds at any opportunity to listen more. But riotously funny? No. An interesting, original and satirical look at the nature of modern television juxtaposed against stories of real suffering? Yes.
From the blurb I admit I was expecting the “King of Pain” television show to be degrees more horrible than it was ultimately described, which only helped to highlight the absurdity of the “TV tortures” they think up for “The King of Pain” reality show. Sleep deprivation, starvation, emotional – all real tortures but controlled and manufactured by the show where the contestants could walk away at any time.
Our protagonist, Rick “The Prick” Salter (a universally despised TV and movie producer) wakes to find himself trapped, ironically enough, by his own consumerism. His massive wall unit filled with awards, gaming consoles, and three absurdly large televisions has him pinned. Unable to free himself or call for help, he passes the time reading “A History of Prisons” – vignettes of prison stories from different perspectives.
As much as I found myself wanting to find out the ultimate fate of Rick, I also found myself equally enjoying these stories-within-a-story. One, in particular, stands out about an African prison guard who becomes a prisoner during a violent regime.
The narrator, George Kuch, I thought did a masterful job of portraying Rick and delivering a fantastic overall experience. His voice perfectly matched what I could envision Rick looked like. Slightly gruff, older, distinguished but with the right amount of self-importance.
Not what was promised by the cover, but highly enjoyable regardless. You’ll find something original and unexpected in this book.
I was given this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. I have not let this gift affect nor influence my opinions of this audiobook and have left an honest review.