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review 2017-04-21 23:06
Needful Things - Stephen King

Needful Things is my favorite Stephen King novel. Hell, it's probably my favorite novel, period. I felt that way going into this reread, and those feelings did not change upon reading it for the...fourth time, I think it is now. King nails everything here: exceptional character work, horror and comedy in equal measure, and one of his most memorable endings to date.


I know this novel has its detractors, and that's cool. Different strokes for different folks, brother. This novel is long (but not extraneous, he emphasized) and stars one of King's largest casts. I dig that, and some readers don't. Personally, I love every character here: Buster Keeton, Nettie Cobb, Hugh Priest, Willie Rose — that old Catholic-hating reverend. This novel is King at his most Dickensian: these small town people are folks all readers can relate to; the way these characters' lives intertwine with one another are an absolute joy to read about. And like the best of Dickens's work, this book is hilarious at times. I laugh until I cry every time I read Needful Things; typically I find King's humor to be a little hit or miss. In this 1991 satire, he hits the nail on the head every. single. time. I would wager SK had a ton of fun writing this novel because it's a blast to read. That's not to say this book is lighthearted or breezy; it's anything but. While it has it's hilarious moments, those are contrasted sharply with some of the darkest, most despairing scenes King has ever penned. Why is this book not mentioned in the same breath as Pet Sematary or Cujo when this author's bleakest works are discussed? Some of the text is almost too downtrodden to bare (I'm thinking, for instance, of Cora Rusk's distraction — her longing to go back to her Elvis fantasy — and inability to understand what has just happened to her son. No spoilers!)


As well, it is as relevant today as it was in 1991 — if not more so. For the last eighteen months or thereabouts, I have watched roughly 40% of my country's citizens fall victim to an aging con man, someone who preyed and still preys on the weak, scared, angry and greedy to win the presidential election and further his agenda (or sow chaos; whatever you want to call it). In a sense, this novel feels just as chilling and timely in the Trump era as 1984 or It Can't Happen Here.


Needless to say, this is King's masterwork — at least, for me it is. Some folks would say that title falls to the Dark Tower series or It or The Stand. That's fine. Literature is so damn subjective and every Constant Reader is different. But for me, Needful Things is the tome that shows the impossible heights King is capable of climbing to. He's come close since — and he had come close before this novel released — but this is in a class all its own. My highest recommendation, and then some.


Favorite Quote


"The goods which had so attracted the residents of Castle Rock — the black pearls, the holy relics, the carnival glass, the pipes, the old comic books, the baseball cards, the antique kaleidoscopes — were all gone. Mr. Gaunt had gotten down to his real business, and at the end of things, the business was always the same. The ultimate item had changed with the years, just like everything else, but such changes were surface things, frosting of different flavors on the same dark and bitter cake.
At the end, Mr. Gaunt always sold them weapons . . . and they always bought."


King Connections


Confession: I did not take notes while reading this. I know, I know; bad Cody! I just wanted to enjoy the ride.


This is subtitled "The Last Castle Rock Story", so of course it's the punctuation mark on the Castle Rock saga. Connections big and small to The Dead Zone, The Body, Cujo, The Dark Half, and The Sun Dog pop up.

The book's epilogue is set in Junction City, Iowa, which was the setting for 1990's novella The Library Policeman.


The car Ace Merrill picks up for Mr. Gaunt is a Tucker Talisman — a type of car that does not exist, and I am almost tempted to say its name is a reference to The Talisman. As well, when Ace sits in the Talisman for the first time he thinks about how fine a new car smells. "Nothing smells better," he remarks, "except maybe pussy." This line is almost certainly a throwback to Christine, as that same thought is expressed by a character in that novel. Pretty cool.


I am sure there are many more connections to be found here (there are references to Derry and some scenes are set in Cumberland Hospital, which is close to Jerusalem's Lot), but I didn't feel like chasing them. Say sorry.

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text 2017-01-23 23:10
7 Horror(ish) Novels That Set My Tail A-Waggin'
The Arabian Nightmare - Robert Irwin
Needful Things - Stephen King
The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller
The Off Season - Jack Cady
The Tomb (Adversary Cycle, #2) - F. Paul Wilson
The Club Dumas - Arturo Pérez-Reverte,Sonia Soto

Okay, I've established that I like me some horror. I don't really like definitive "Ten Best" lists (writing them anyway; I love reading them), so I'll just talk about seven I really like. Some are only loosely horror, but it's my list, so there!


1. The Arabian Nightmare - Robert Irwin  The Arabian Nightmare - Robert Irwin  


    What a weird-ass book this is. A young Englishman comes to medieval Cairo during an epidemic. The victims fall into a never-ending nightmare that they can't remember if and when they wake. Balian, our protagonist, runs into various bizarre characters, such as Dirty Yoll the story-teller (who is also our narrator), possibly comes down with the nightmare, is victim of various conspiracies... It gets very strange, not least when the narrator dies, but keeps telling the story, and then gets better... maybe.


2. Needful Things - Stephen King  Needful Things - Stephen King  


    Look, I know many people think of this as one of King's worst works, but I love it. Besides, do you need yet another person extolling the virtues of ITThe Shining, or 'Salem's Lot? Of course not.

So, the devil comes to Castle Rock, promising the citizens their fondest wish if they'll just do him one small favor... The premise is awesome, the characters incredible, and some of the writing (particularly the prologue) is the best King has ever published. Scoff if you must, I love this  book.


3. The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg  The Book of Skulls - Robert Silverberg 


    Four college kids go to the desert, seeking the cure for mortality. Two must die, so the others may live forever. Dark, hedonistic, philosophical, and amazing. Told from four different, first-person perspectives in such a way that you never get confused as to who is currently narrating. Brilliant.


4. The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller  The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson,Laura Miller  


    If you know anything about horror fiction, you've heard of this. Do yourself a favor and read it. Probably the best haunted house novel I've ever read.


5. The Off Season - Jack Cady  The Off Season - Jack Cady  


    Another strange one. A wanderer comes to town, along with a cat who purrs in several languages. A Victorian-era madman comes back to life, promising to help the citizens make mucho moolah in the tourist trade by exploiting their many ghosts. There's a parsonage that never stays in the same place, only to become  a flying fortress during the final battle. Whoa.


6. The Tomb (Adversary Cycle, #2) - F. Paul Wilson  The Tomb (Adversary Cycle, #2) - F. Paul Wilson  


    First, and best, of the Repairman Jack series. Jack is hired to retrieve a strange necklace for an ancient Indian woman as all hell breaks loose in NYC. Action-packed with many memorable characters.


7. The Club Dumas - Arturo Pérez-Reverte,Sonia Soto  The Club Dumas - Arturo Pérez-Reverte,Sonia Soto  


    Got into this book after seeing the movie The Ninth Gate, which was loosely based on this.

A rare book dealer is hired for two different jobs: to track down the manuscript of a certain chapter from The Three Musketeers; and to find out which, if any, of the three remaining copies off an evil tome is the original, for unknown reasons. Dark, funny, suspenseful, this introduced me to one of my favorite authors. If you like swashbucklers, check out his Captain Alatriste novels.

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review 2017-01-10 01:11
2017 Around The Year in 52 Books / notes
Needful Things - Stephen King

What is it about:
Now available for the first time in a mass-market premium paperback edition—master storyteller Stephen King presents the classic #1 New York Times bestseller about a mysterious store than can sell you whatever you desire—but not without exacting a terrible price in return.

“There are two prices for this. Half…and half. One half is cash. The other is a deed. Do you understand?”

The town of Castle Rock, Maine has seen its fair share of oddities over the years, but nothing is a peculiar as the little curio shop that’s just opened for business. Its mysterious proprietor, Leland Gaunt, seems to have something for everyone out on display at Needful Things…interesting items that run the gamut from worthless to priceless. Nothing has a price tag in this place, but everything is certainly for sale. The heart’s desire for any resident of Castle Rock can easily be found among the curiosities…in exchange for a little money and—at the specific request of Leland Gaunt—a whole lot of menace against their fellow neighbors. Everyone in town seems willing to make a deal at Needful Things, but the devil is in the details. And no one takes heed of the little sign handing on the wall: Caveat emptor. In other words, let the buyer beware

My rating:5 stars
Paper back

Why: it's one.of my all time favorite books of [author:Stephen King|3389],so glad tjaty sister got me a new copy for 2016 Christmas ,it's been forever since i've read it.Even though it's been a while I actually remember some of it .Plus I seem.to.have a theme when it comes to my all time favorites of his ,which is.good vs evil.


Challenges: 2017 Around The Year In 52 Books:

Week 18: a really long book(600+pages)

Plus : 2nd book of the 60 books I want to read in 2017

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review 2016-09-07 10:06
Pervertierte Kleinstadtidylle
In einer kleinen Stadt [Needful Things] - Stephen King,Christel Wiemken „In einer kleinen Stadt: Needful Things“ von Stephen King habe ich mir vorgenommen, weil mein Bauch so laut danach schrie, dass ich seinen Wunsch nicht ignorieren konnte. Ich weiß nicht, warum er plötzlich von heute auf morgen der Ansicht war, dass die Zeit ausgerechnet für dieses Buch gekommen sei, war aber gern bereit, mich darauf einzulassen. Meinen letzten King hatte ich im Juli 2015 gelesen; es handelte sich um „Stark: The Dark Half“. Beide Romane werden dem Castle-Rock-Zyklus zugeordnet, wobei „In einer kleinen Stadt“ passenderweise chronologisch nach „Stark“ angesiedelt ist. Ursprünglich plante King, den Zyklus mit diesem Werk abzuschließen, kehrte in den folgenden Jahren allerdings doch mehrfach nach Castle Rock, die fiktive Kleinstadt im Westen Maines, zurück. In einer kleinen Stadt wie Castle Rock ist die Eröffnung eines neuen Geschäfts eine mittlere Sensation. Natürlich würde es niemals jemand zugeben, aber als an der Main Street eine schöne grüne Markise angebracht wird, ergreift eine Atmosphäre mühsam im Zaum gehaltener Neugier die Stadt. »Needful Things« steht auf dem Schild an der Tür. Der Inhaber ist Leland Gaunt, ein Fremder von außerhalb. Er verspricht eine völlig neue Art von Laden und er hält Wort: bei »Needful Things« gibt es alles, was das Herz begehrt – zu Spottpreisen. Geld scheint Mr. Gaunt nicht besonders wichtig zu sein. Stattdessen erwartet er von seinen Kund_innen als Teil der Bezahlung, dass sie ihren Nachbar_innen kleine Streiche spielen. Was ist schon dabei? Doch der harmlose Spaß entwickelt sich unaufhaltsam zu tödlichem Ernst, die Situation gerät außer Kontrolle und Castle Rock stürzt ins Chaos. Werden einige wenige aufrechte Bürger_innen ausreichen, um die Stadt zu retten? Ich bin ein bisschen perplex. „In einer kleinen Stadt“ hat meine Erwartungen weit übertroffen. Nicht hinsichtlich des Inhalts, denn diesen schätzte ich bereits vor der Lektüre als gewohnt aufregend und unheimlich ein, sondern hinsichtlich des Schreibstils. Stephen King hat irgendetwas verändert. Anscheinend hat er an ein paar Schräubchen gedreht, denn dieses Werk ist der erste und bisher einzige Roman aus seiner Feder, der meine Aufmerksamkeit ungebrochen zu fesseln vermochte. „In einer kleinen Stadt“ weist keinerlei Längen auf. Es ist durchgehend spannend. Für mich ist das eine kleine Sensation, denn ich war fest darauf eingestellt, es wieder einmal mit einigen zähen Passagen zu tun zu bekommen, durch die ich mich würde durchbeißen müssen. Vielleicht lag es daran, dass ich wirklich aus tiefstem Herzen Lust auf dieses Buch hatte, vielleicht hat King mehr Wert auf einen konstanten Spannungsbogen gelegt – was immer es war, „In einer kleinen Stadt“ hielt mich pausenlos in Atem, obwohl sich die Handlung recht gemütlich entfaltet. Es beginnt harmlos: »Needful Things« eröffnet in Castle Rock und Mr. Gaunt bemüht sich rührend, die sehnlichsten Wünsche aller Bewohner_innen der Stadt zu erfüllen. Dass Gaunt keineswegs ein wohltätiger Samariter und Geschäftsmann ist, lässt King erst nur anklingen. Ein bedrohlicher Blick hier, ein gemurmeltes Wort da, ein Händeschütteln, das Abscheu auslöst. Er vermittelt seinen Leser_innen subtil, dass Misstrauen angebracht ist und bringt sie dadurch in die für Horrorgeschichten typische überlegene Position. Ich konnte beobachten, wie die Bürger_innen von Castle Rock der Gier nachgaben und Mr. Gaunt auf den Leim gingen; ich wollte ihnen zurufen, sich nicht auf diesen aalglatten Händler einzulassen und spürte lebhaft, wie sich die Spirale des Terrors zuzog und sich die Ereignisse bis zur Eskalation zuspitzten. Meiner Meinung nach haben die Menschen in Castle Rock zwei bedeutende Schwachstellen, die King Gaunt perfide ausnutzen ließ: ihre Habsucht und ihre Streitigkeiten untereinander. Gaunt spielt meisterhaft auf der Klaviatur der Kleinstadt-Fehden und hetzt alle Akteure geschickt gegeneinander auf, sodass am Ende er allein als Profiteur dasteht. Er treibt jeden noch so kleinen schwelenden Zwist auf die Spitze und bedient sich dabei (zumindest anfangs) erstaunlich zurückhaltender Mittel. Es überraschte mich, wie wenig nötig ist, um die Konflikte gottesfürchtiger, anständiger und strikt bürgerlicher Leute in hässliche Gewalttätigkeiten ausufern und eine ganze Stadt in Anarchie versinken zu lassen. Natürlich kann eine derartige Situation nicht für alle Beteiligten glimpflich ausgehen. Ich fand, dass Stephen King sehr hart mit seinen Figuren ins Gericht geht und sie für ihre Fehler bitter bestraft. Besonders in einem Fall wünschte ich mir vergeblich, dass er Nachsicht und Gnade walten ließe. Trotz dessen verstehe ich, warum er streng war, niemanden davonkommen und sie alle leiden ließ. Castle Rock musste geläutert werden. Läuterung verlangt nach Schmerz. Mir gefiel „In einer kleinen Stadt“ hervorragend. Es ist eine mitreißende Geschichte von Gier, Bedürfnissen und Manipulation, die das Klischee der Kleinstadtidylle auf faszinierende Weise pervertiert. Obwohl Stephen King das eine oder andere übernatürliche Elemente einarbeitete, sind es in Wahrheit doch wieder einmal die Abgründe der menschlichen Psyche und Natur, die das Grauen dieses Buches prägen. Man stelle sich vor, alle Fehden einer kleinen Stadt würden mit einem Schlag eskalieren, aus welchem Grund auch immer – das Ergebnis ist den Geschehnissen nicht unähnlich, die King für „In einer kleinen Stadt“ so farbenfroh beschreibt. Lässt man das Übernatürliche weg, ist seine Schreckensvision unwahrscheinlich, aber dennoch vorstellbar und genau das ist der Grund, warum ich ihn als Autor unheimlicher Geschichten schätze. Er hat erkannt, dass wir Menschen selbst die furchteinflößende Quelle unseres Horrors sind. Vielleicht ist die schützende Schicht namens Zivilisation, die unsere Triebe unter Verschluss hält, um einiges dünner, als wir glauben möchten.
Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/stephen-king-in-einer-kleinen-stadt-needful-things
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-03-30 03:54
Needful Things - The Review!
Needful Things - Stephen King

So I've got a problem. I like to complain. Like, I really like to complain. And I don't have a lot to complain about. I liked this book a lot. It was fun and it was thrilling and I just loved it. So let's get into this. 


My favorite thing about this book is the characters. Without a doubt, they are the best part of this story. They are well rounded, all of them, and they each are fascinating! We all know by now how I adore Gaunt, but I also really came to love Alan. I didn't know if I would at first but the more I saw of him, the more I liked him. The way he interacted with the Rusk boys absolutely won me over.


Alan and Gaunt's dynamic, despite never interacting, was spectacular. I have a book with writing exercises for speculative writers and one of the key things it says about writing a villain is he has to mirror your hero. In this respect, the novel did amazingly. Gaunt complimented Alan so well. He really was as dark as Alan was good. They were two opposite poles on either side of the chaos that came to the town. I really can't express how much I love their characters and their roles in the story. 


One character who I came to adore was Buster. That really surprised me, since I thought for sure I wouldn't care for him, even downright hate him by the time the book was done. Yet he really was one of my favorites. His paranoia was easily the aspect of the story that made me the most uneasy. I mean, I could feel my pulse race whenever he went on about the great and terrible THEM. I'd go so far as to say that his paranoia was the scariest thing about the book for me. It was so well written though, and he was so well written. He was a scumbag but a scumbag I couldn't help but care fore. The scene where he killed his wife had to be one of my absolute favorites. The thunk, thunk, thunk part especially was chilling. Just so wonderfully written. It's a good thing I was alone in the laundromat when I read it because I probably had a really weird expression on my face. The only thing I disliked about Buster was how he died. For such a fabulous character, it was really anti-climactic. I mean, really. He just gets shot and dies. I was hoping for him to go out with a bigger bang. This is actually related to one of my complaints but I'll talk about that later. 


The plot itself was very solid. It built on itself so wonderfully. At first I was a little annoyed by the sections where it was just people buying things at Needful Things and the little descriptions of the pranks they had to pay. It seemed unnecessary, just fodder at first. But then I came to love it. It built up the tension so well, which I think is something King excels at. He hints at something, then makes you wait for it. It was fun to see all the pieces move into position and wonder how it all was going to go down. The book was sort of a slow burn and I rather liked that. Much like The Witch (which is awesome, for the record, go see it), it makes the parts where shit goes down that much more intense. 


Okay, now for some critiques. Not calling them complaints, just critiques. 


I've seen it said time and time again that King has a problem with endings. This book is no exception. I wouldn't say the ending was bad. Just weird and over the top. It's the one place where I think the movie was better. In the movie, if you haven't seen it, the shop blows up thanks to Buster and Gaunt calmly leaves town like the classy bastard he is. In the book, it's much stranger. I don't want to give too much away, but it fits better in something like Lord of the Rings than it does in this story. Not bad, just out of place and melodramatic. 


That said, the very last page is a good ending. When it parallels the beginning, talking about the store Answered Prayers and wondering what it sells there, that was awesome. 'Cause you know Gaunt's not gone and you know it's all going to start again. I loved it. I really did. Didn't quite make up for the strangeness of the other ending, but it was a solid conclusion to the book. 


On a similar note, I actually didn't care for the beginning. Like the ending, it had it's charms, but it dragged. It just really dragged. I wish he had let us figure out the different feuds, rather than flat out telling us about it all. It would have added to the tension and mystery, I think, wondering why Gaunt wants people to play the tricks they do. I totally see the purpose of the beginning, I just feel it slowed things down. 


Final complaint is super small: the Cujo references. At first it was fun, being able to go, "I see what you did there". Then after a point it was just annoying. Like, we get it, you're talking about Cujo. It was a good gag, it just went on too long. 


That's it. Those are my complaints. Really not a lot and really not that bad. 


I suppose the only thing left to address is whether the book scared me. My answer? No. It didn't. It made me super uneasy. Like I said, Buster's scenes made me so uncomfortable. And the creature living inside the necklace really made me cringe. But I wouldn't say that at any point I was scared. And that's okay. I didn't think this book would scare me. At the end of the day, it just wasn't the subject matter that creeps me out. But it was a fun ride. I really liked it. And it could very well scare someone else. 


Final Rating: 4.5/5 stars. Took off half a point for the weird ending and the slow beginning. Overall though I really recommend this one. I was expecting to be let down but Mr. King really delivers. 


Final thought: I wonder what Mr. Gaunt would have for me. 

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