The King of Pain

Sukuma Books  2012


Seth Kaufman’s novel The King of Pain evokes memories of another transformation story (Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis) where the protagonist awakes to find himself unable to recall how he came to be in his current state. Kaufman’s protagonist is Rick ‘The Prick’ Salter, a smug Reality TV producer with a hit show about torture called “The King of Pain.” In the irony to end ironies, Rick finds himself trapped underneath his enormous entertainment system without a clue how he got there. Unable to roll out from underneath its weight, Rick must wait forty-eight hours until his housekeeper returns to summon help. To pass the time Rick picks up the only book within arm’s reach, “A History of Prisons” written by Seth Kaufman. This frame within a frame narrative helps create a more personal satire for the author.

Kaufman’s novel can be boiled down to the human emotions of pain and catharsis. One must go through difficulties to know happiness and freedom. As Rick lies on his floor his perspective changes both physically and mentally. Through reading (fictional) Kaufman’s stories Rick eventually realizes that he must change his ways. Now, this type of abrasive narrator is one you either accept and find humorous or cannot put up with, much like real-life versions of Rick ‘The Prick’ Salter. Kaufman, on the other hand, is probably a pleasant author both fictionally and non-fictionally.

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