“Jesse Edward Johnson's deft writing is so funny you could overlook its elegance. The King of Nothing Much is a nimble chronicle of a stay-at-home father whose inner life is a flow of witty rumination about the challenges of his kids, his wife, other families, and his own muffled ambitions. Not only is this novel a discovery for readers who appreciate writers such as Tom Perrotta, Zoe Heller, or Joshua Ferris, it is also a marvelous antidote for those among us suffering from Karl Ove Knausgård fatigue. It's a gem.”—Katharine Weber, author of Still Life with Monkey and Triangle
The King of Nothing Much is a story about parenthood in a time of transition.
Weldon Tines, 41, is a stay-at-home dad who has outlived his usefulness in the role. The twins—Danny and Reese—have just started kindergarten, his older daughter Presley wants nothing to do with him, and his wife Deb makes enough money for the family to live on. Newly rudderless, Weldon struggles to understand his purpose on this earth. Who is it that can tell him who he is?
When Weldon slides gleefully down an inflatable slide at a child’s birthday party, only to come crashing into the birthday boy, he thinks he’s just made a mistake that will lead only to hassle and headache. Instead, it kick-starts a quest for personal discovery that culminates in a dramatic flourishing of Weldon’s deep-seated heroism.
Witty and original, The King of Nothing Much speaks to what it means to be a father and a husband in the age of toxic masculinity.
"A bighearted riff on masculine anxiety . . . Weldon's inner monologue is engaging, there are some genuinely humorous moments sending up dude culture."—Booklist
"Witty and concise, The King of Nothing Much is a compelling character study of a father whose story warrants consideration."—Foreword Reviews
"A brief comic portrait of one version of middle-class 21st-century manhood that’s built around a more serious, emotionally intense core."—Kirkus Reviews
"The King of Nothing Much is at turns hilarious, incisive, and uncomfortably familiar. In Weldon Tines, Jesse Edward Johnson has gifted us a highly relatable modern everyman with whom we can laugh, cringe, yearn, and reflect on our own lives.”
—Jonathan Evison, author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel
"The King of Nothing Much, a novel about a stay-at-home dad on a quest to discover his greater purpose, is a delight. Johnson perfectly captures both the ennui and elation of parenthood and the mundanity and magic of marriage. The humor and tenderness on the pages calls to mind Stewart O'Nan and Jonathan Evison. I love this little book."—T. Greenwood, author of Rust & Stardust, Keeping Lucy, and Where I Lost Her
"The King of Nothing Much is on one hand a wry study of contemporary parenting with a gloriously biting class commentary underneath—at the same time, it's a sensitive story of trust, relationships, and promises made, and broken. Johnson deftly examines the madness of new money flooding Seattle, without offering a reductive parody—always the novel is buoyed by his talent for revealing the humanity of complicated people."—Peter Mountford, author of The Dismal Science and A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism
Read a Q&A with Deborah Kalb.
Also available as an ebook:
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Jesse Edward Johnson is a writer and artist based in the Pacific Northwest. His first novel, Yearbook, was published by Paul Dry Books in 2017. He has a Ph.D. in English from UCLA, where he taught literature for five years. He has taught at Hugo House in Seattle, and at San Quentin Prison. For more information about Jesse’s work and ongoing projects, please visit jesseedwardjohnson.com.