Random thoughts about this book:
- It’s very dated, but in a way that’s amusing and a little thought-provoking. The inner thoughts of a man on hold, at a time when the telephone “hold” function was new and before the now-ubiquitous hold music or recorded messages, when being put on hold was like a little death: “The line was darkly, smoothly, blank. You were nowhere. Why didn’t they just say, ‘Will you hold on while I bury you alive for a little while?’”
- As per King’s usual, the romantic relationship with the main character is awkward and unconvincing, as was their weird little sexual interlude.
- But his portrayal of religious fanaticism *is* convincing, especially in this book, where he treats it with some sympathy rather than just as a motivation for evil deeds and rude behavior. He is savage with those who exploit the believers’ needs for relief of pain and grief, all for a price, of course.
- Oh, and Greg Stillson. Chilling description of a power-hungry sociopath who wears the mask of respectability and presents himself as a hard-hatted, patriotically flag-draped champion of the working class, promising jobs and security, while employing thugs as “security” and “campaign managers” to pave the way forward through nefarious means. King seems to have been prescient. For who would have seriously thought that a populist buffoon like that could actually rise to national power in a democratic America?
Overall, it’s not the great book that I remember reading as a young teen, but it’s entertaining and it still has some very relevant things to say about the danger of allowing our pain and fear and need cloud our judgement so much that we make ourselves vulnerable to those who would use us to enrich or empower themselves.
Audiobook, via Audible. James Franco’s performance grew on me a little, but not all talented actors make great audiobook narrators. Few characters had a distinct voice, and his New England Yankee characters had oddly Southern accents.