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The Fracking King: A Novel by [Browning, James]
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The Fracking King: A Novel Kindle Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 191 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

“Browning’s clever and engaging debut, with its young Scrabble champion turned unlikely environmental advocate and timely ecological theme, is a funny and thought-provoking tale.” —Booklist

“Browning effortlessly translates his passion for environmental change into a rousing, witty, and enlightening tale of outsiders and Scrabble…[A] playful debut.” —Publishers Weekly

"James Browning has done a remarkable thing: In his bewitching debut novel, he has created a narrator so engaging, it makes you wish the book were twice as long. I will miss Winston Crwth's wry way of telling a story, but I can’t wait to read more of his creator's work." —Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

"A book with a conscience and a heart, The Fracking King weaves a wonderful, important and highly original story, combining the pleasures of a fine novel with the real-world dangers of fracking. James Browning rewards the reader on every level." —Richard North Patterson, author of Fall From Grace

“It's hard to imagine the words ‘enchanting' and 'fracking' describing the same thing but boy, that sums up this sly and delightful juggling act of a novel.  Yes, it's about fracking, but it's also about Scrabble and a young man stumbling into heroism. A terrific debut.” —John Guare, author of Six Degrees of Separation

About the Author

James Browning writes and speaks on environmental issues for Common Cause. He has a BA from Brown University and an MA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins. His essays have been published in The Believer and The Village Voice.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2652 KB
  • Print Length: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Little A (1 July 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FL3YLII
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #154,614 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
As you can tell from many of the early reviews, comments, one star ratings, and review votes on the Amazon.com U.S. site this book touches upon the very contentious matter of fracking. It's about teenagers at school and fracking. There's one girl at this boys school, (the headmaster's daughter), and there has been a rule change that allows girl(s) into boys' rooms. So, of course, everyone is obsessed with fracking. Where to frack, how to frack, and of course the terrible dangers of fracking. (We all know what a burning stream of liquid is a metaphor for.) I'm being facetious, but that's because the outrage over the fracking issue is way over the top. This is not a screed; it's not even very much about fracking, except as a plot device. While the author is apparently very involved in the real fracking debate, there is no effort to advance some complex anti-fracking agenda in the guise of a novel.

This is, first and foremost, a coming-of-age and school-daze tale. My gosh, the fracking controversy almost makes you lose sight of how cleverly the plot is constructed, how inventive the incorporation of Scrabble into the plot is, and how insightful and charming the narrator is. This book is populated by a number of engaging, appealing, and articulate secondary characters. It is anchored by a narrator/hero who has a clear head, an observant eye, and a compelling sense of the well phrased description and the arresting observation. The plot is a stretch, but that's not really the point. Sharp observations, snappy dialogue, cheerful subversion, and engagement with the world seem to be the prime focus. As a bonus the author is adept at word play and subtle literary jokes, and he employs the hero's obsession with Scrabble to introduce some very elegant and inventive word jokes.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Haven't got into it having read 25%, so quitting as better things to do with my time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x987fe2e8) out of 5 stars 563 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9874fb88) out of 5 stars THE RULES OF THE GAME 25 July 2014
By Peter Eliscu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
James Browning has succeeded in merging fiction and reality in THE FRACKING KING. If you want to know just how on-target it is, take a look at this week's report from Pennsylvania's Auditor-General:

[...]

It doesn't seem that they have found contaminated water samples stamped with Browning's fictional designation "818" yet, but the pattern of the DEP's lack of accountability and transparency is all too evident in the NONfictional state of Pennsylvania. Browning's novel is superbly written and captures the adolescent perception of a world where the rules of the energy game are designed by dark corporate interests. An avid scrabble player could easily find a multitude of possibilities in the names of the toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process; chemicals that have been exempted from regulation by Congressional representatives bankrolled by the oil and gas industries (See "Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets" by James Browning and Alex Kaplan, November 2011); chemicals associated with increased incidences of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, with congenital heart defects in newborns. "More than 75% of the chemicals could affect the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. Approximately 40-50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 35% could cause cancer and mutations." (Theo Colborn, Carol Kwiatkowski, Kim Schultz & Mary Bachran (2011) "Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective," HUMAN AND ECOLOGICAL RISK ASSESSMENT: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL, 17:5, 1039-1056) Hopefully many more readers are beginning to awaken from the fiction that those who govern us are committed to protecting our health and well-being. THE FRACKING KING, while irresistibly engaging us in the many levels of its main character's journey, also leaves us questioning what we do with the knowledge that it is up to us to change the rules of the game.
25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9907a1c8) out of 5 stars Interesting story 6 Jun. 2014
By Jennifer L. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Had to give this one three stars because while Win is an interesting character, we are introduced to a multitude of characters who aren't fully developed. The author works hard to introduce lots of side stories and subplots but they aren't fully utilized. The writing is great and flows well right until the end. Compared to the rest of the novel, the ending is abrupt and I was left feeling unsatisfied.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9907a0cc) out of 5 stars Humorous look at serious topic 1 July 2014
By Jeffrey A Raffel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
“The Fracking King” is a novel which combines the best elements of J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye” and Rachel Carson’s “The Silent Spring.” In his junior year a boarding school student faces the complexities of youth and fracking simultaneously and humorously. Author James Browning raises questions about the dangers of fracking through the protagonist, Winston Crwth, who confronts the difficulties of girls, school, and his place in the world. Browning interweaves Crwth’s expertise in Scrabble with an inside look at Scrabble tournaments and, better yet, allows the reader to learn some great words to use in Words with Friends (ae, oe, brhbrh). Browning’s experience as a Common Cause lobbyist provides insights into the workings of the PA legislature and the methods of big corporation lobbyists yet the author avoids the temptation to have his characters give long-winded didactic speeches. Browning’s parody is at times funny, at times poignant, and at times frightening. It is a good read which will make you nostalgic about your youth, interested in word games, and upset about environmental degradation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98fcb9fc) out of 5 stars For Scrabble and Environmentalists Everywhere 1 July 2014
By Laura J. Fullen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This young adult novel is not only for the young. I'm 61, and thoroughly enjoyed it! While the hydraulic fracturing nightmare scenario in Pennsylvania is probably exaggerated a lot, the Scrabble competition was not. I play Scrabble every weekend with my brother, and I have learned so many new words to try to beat him! Even if you're pro hydraulic fracturing, read it and draw your own conclusions.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x98d97c60) out of 5 stars Excellent! 2 July 2014
By Rachel Roebuck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I hadn't been able to get back into reading but I couldn't put this book down! I'm a sucker for plots that happen subtlety, and this one was perfect.
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