In the Valley of the Kings: Stories (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

This collection of short stories (and one novella) will knock your socks off. These stories are chilling, beautiful, and strange. The sense of foreboding and and doom that builds throughout the pieces reaches its devastating crescendo in the final story, "Apocalypse." And while solitude and death seem to be the central theme of this striking collection, I walk away from these pages with a wondrous feeling of clarity, calm, and awe. I really cannot speak too highly of Holt's talent and originality. You must read this!

— From Erin

I have read the first 5 stories of this collection and am blown away. The term "original voice" is way over used, but is completely applicable in this case. These are haunting, touching, strange stories. People will be talking about this book for years to come.

The rest of the stories in this volume lived up to the first 5. These are dark, haunting stories almost all focusing on mortality that echo the voices of Poe and Borges. Yet Holt's voice is entirely contemporary and very American. I haven't been this aware of having discovered a "new" voice since I first read Cormac McCarthy.

— From Robert


"One of the finest American writers alive . . . he is Melville + Poe + Borges but with a heart far more capacious."—Junot Díaz

Praised for his "beautifully crafted and strangely surreal" (Peter Matthiessen) stories, Terrence Holt had been operating under the literary radar for more than fifteen years, placing award-winning stories in such noted journals as Zoetrope, Kenyon Review, and TriQuarterly. With the release of this debut collection, Holt's work takes its "rightful place besides those works of genius—fiction, philosophy, theology—unafraid of axing into our iced hearts" (William Giraldi, New York Times Book Review). Whether chronicling a plague that ravages a New England town or the anguish of a son who keeps his father's beating heart in a jar, Holt's stories oscillate between the rational and the surreal, the future and the past, masterfully weaving together reality and myth. Like Poe or Hawthorne, "Holt is a gifted wordsmith, his sentences carefully shaped and often beautiful, and he spins these ancient, irresolvable dilemmas in an elegiac poetry" (Los Angeles Times).

About the Author

Terrence Holt is a writer and an internist specializing in geriatric medicine, teaching and practicing at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Praise For…

In the Valley of the Kings does what all great story collections should: it challenges the mind while opening the spirit. Each of these short pieces sets a haunting scenario outside the ordinary realm—men traveling in space, or excavating the tombs of ancient Egyptian kings, or living through an apocalypse. The characters are all faced with mysteries to solve, but it is Terrence Holt’s careful exploration of the loneliness and obsession these men harbor that elevates this book, in all its uniqueness and beauty. Long after a reader finishes these stories, they will be puzzling and thinking and dreaming of the worlds Terrence Holt has created.

— Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393339086
ISBN-10: 0393339084
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: September 6th, 2010
Pages: 224
Language: English