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review 2015-04-30 20:13
Bag of Bones Review
Bag of Bones - Stephen King

Had you asked me a month ago what I thought of Bag of Bones I might have chuckled and shook my head. I might have told you it is one of the worst Stephen King books there is, that it is easily in my bottom five King reads, down there with such piles of Kingly excrement as Dreamcatcher, Wizard and Glass, The Eyes of the Dragon, and From a Buick 8, the latter being the pinnacle of Uncle Stevie's fecal production. In other words, friends and neighbors, I hated this book.

But that was then and this is now. What happened over the course of 17 years, the timespan between my first read and this one? Well, I stopped doing Class-A narcotics for entertainment purposes, became a husband and a father of two, grew up a little, and all-around dug my head out of my ass. My change of heart could have something to do with one of those things or all of them. I don't know. But this is a gorgeous book. A little heavy in the rear, but absolutely beautiful.

My only complaint this time around is how long the book goes on after the denouement. It's not annoyingly long, but I feel a few questions could have been edited out in the beginning half of the book so that we didn't have to sit around for twenty pages reading about two men chatting over whiskey about what happened in the past 710 pages. I only say this editing could have been done because it is one of the things the made-for-tv movie gets right.

One of the toughest topics this book tackles is the subject of male lust, how immediate and destructive a force it can be. It took a heavy sack on King's part to speak honestly about something every man deals with yet most cannot explain. King does not condone or make excuses here. He explains. This is how it is, and there are men that find their own thoughts reprehensible. Yes, we all lust. Yes, we all imagine how wonderful it would be for our partners to say "Do what you want", but not all of us prefer that over love and tenderness.

Okay, here's where you take responsibility. By clicking on "view spoiler" you agree that you've read King's entire catalogue and will not hold me responsible for things being ruined because you're too damn inquisitive. Trust me, the shit hidden here is only interesting if you have read all of King's books.


Obvious Tie-ins:
Thad Beaumont (The Dark Half), oddly enough this is the novel wherein we learn of Thad's suicide. He's mentioned as having had a divorce in Needful Things, but this is where we learn of his death.
William (Big Bill) Denbrough is too. (It)
Ralph Roberts (Insomnia) has a pretty big role for a walk-on character from another book. Usually we're only given mentions of people, but here, Ralph sits down to coffee with Mike and chats for a while.
Alan Pangborn, Polly Chalmers, and Norris Ridgewick (Needful Things). Alan and Polly are only mentioned, but Norris has a walk-on role as the sheriff of Castle County.
Nehemiah Bannerman is obviously the gradfather of the ill-fated sheriff George Bannerman, who makes his first appearance in The Dead Zone only to meet his end inCujo.
The storm of the century in (you guessed it) Storm of the Century is briefly mentioned as the stawm of the century.

Ring Around the Tower:
Bag of Bones takes place in the same world as Insomnia.
In the final two DT novels, King's vacation home Cara Laughs is mentioned. Noonan's vacation home is Sara Laughs.
And yeah, the recurrence of the number 19 in this book is kinda obnoxious. It's fucking everywhere.

(spoiler show)




In summation: Some books are better the second time around. What is sad is that I never would have reread this one had I not taken on this massive challenge. I feel that this entire journey has been worth it if only because I have a new favorite King book. Bag of Bones is a powerful novel that doesn't get the credit it deserves from King fans. I cannot recommend a first read, but I highly recommend a reread.

Final Judgment: Sometimes it's the reader and not the book.

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review 2015-04-06 19:06
The Green Mile Review... Kinda
The Green Mile - Frank Muller,Stephen King

I first read The Green Mile in serial form, purchased an episode a month from the Lucky's grocery store in Fontana, California. Now, for a little history lesson.

I was born and raised in Southern California. I lived in the same house for 13 years, until my parents went bankrupt and moved to (oddly enough) a much more expensive neighborhood in Colton. Basically I went from the ghetto to Upper-middle class in a single move, and only because my parents went into default on... well, on everything. By clearing out their debt with bankruptcy and losing the house I grew up in, we could afford to live better. That confused the fuck out of me as a kid. I understand it now, but back then all I could think was "If we can't afford our run-down little house, why can we afford this two-story fucker with the huge backyard and all new appliances throughout?"

Then, two years after that, in 1995, we moved from Cooley's Ranch (an annex of Colton, CA) to Mobile, Alabama. My sister had married a truck driver who lived in Mobile, and had somehow talked my mother into uprooting me and my father and dragging us across country to Redneck, Hillbillyville, US of A! Yay... (he said, dripping sarcasm.) I still hate this backward-ass state, and that's all I'll say on the matter.

We left California in the summer of '95. Come September, Hurricane Opal made us its bitch, and we turned right around and limped back to California. We'd lost everything we owned to that storm, and had nowhere else to go. So we moseyed on home with our tails between our legs. Back in California, we lived off family members until we got back on our feet. It would be the first of three times in my life that I would be homeless.

By Spring of 1996 we were back on our feet. Mom was working 16-20 hours a day, and Dad still refused to work. (My father lived off my mother for 25 years, all together, but that's another story for another time.) The Two Dead Girls was the first "book" my mother bought after we got back on our feet. I bought the rest of the serial because Mom didn't want to be bothered with a series. She was afraid it would never be finished, much like the Dark Tower, which she gave up on after The Waste Lands because the ending pissed her off so badly.

I devoured these little episodes. I think it's some of the most fun I've had reading a piece of fiction. I wasn't really a fan of comic books as a kid, at least not as much as I was of books in general. Comic books took away a bit of the fun for me. I wanted to imagine the worlds I escaped into, and I couldn't do that when those worlds were painted in brilliant detail page after page. The Green Mile was a comic book without pictures. I dug that very much.

And then in the spring of 1997 we moved back to Alabama. I still have no idea why.

Fast forward...

By 2004 I had been married and moved away from my parents for three years, and had inherited what was left of my mother's book collection. I was working as a nurse support tech (a CNA that draws blood) for a local hospital and life was good. My tiny apartment wasn't big enough for two people (it was my wife and me; my daughter wouldn't be born until April 2005) AND bookshelves (no joke, that place was SMALL!) so my book collection, which included the serialized version of The Green Mile, was in storage.

That September, Hurricane Ivan came ripping ass up the center of Alabama. The storage unit wasn't indoors, and every box that was on the floor when the units flooded was ruined. One of those boxes held exactly half of the remains of my mother's King collection. The Green Mile, all six novellas, was among the casualties. The only books that survived were my Plume Dark Tower trade paperbacks and the Grant hardcovers of the final three books (Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, The Dark Tower), Insomnia, It, and Desperation. All my Koontz, Palahniuk, and Straub books survived just fine too. I still have the King books that made it through the flooding, even though Insomnia is now in several pieces.

I know this isn't much of a review, but it's part of my life, and King seems to be the foundation many of my memories are built on. I have since rebuilt my mother's King collection, and I can honestly say it is now MY King collection. But I learned an important lesson by losing those treasured volumes. Nothing lasts forever, and, other than the loved ones you lose throughout your days, everything can be replaced.

In summation: This book is wonderful, and it's damn hard to write a review with tears in your eyes.

Final Judgment: Required reading.

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text 2015-03-31 07:52
Next up...
The Green Mile - Stephen King

This will be my first time reading The Green Mile in one go. The first and only time I read it was as a serial novel, and I had to wait for each new episode. I no longer have the individual episodes. Sadly, those were lost to water damage back in 1995 when we went through Hurricane Opal, a storm that destroyed over half of my mother's book collection. But I'll speak more about that when I review this. I'll go into even greater detail in my third Decade with King post come late June, early July.

 

I do remember liking the movie better than the book, but that could be because I don't remember much from the book. I've seen the movie about a bajillion times, and only read this once. Over the course of six months. When I was a teenager. A drug-addled teenager...

 

Anyfuck, I'll start this one after The Talented Mr. Ripley.

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review 2015-03-31 07:38
Rose Madder Review
Rose Madder - Stephen King

Now I remember why I didn't like this the first time I read it. It wears out its welcome a good 60 pages before the end. We get our denouement, and then we're made to wade through a goodly chunk of book before we can call it done.

Still, Rose Madder is okay. I think what keeps this book pretty middle of the road for me is Norman Daniels, our cliched villain. King has three types of male antagonists: women beaters, child molesters, and racists. Norman Daniels suffers from the former and the latter while having also been molested as a child. I'm not a huge fan of the whole molested-people-turn-into-monsters storyline. I know it happens, that the cycle can continue (not all the time, but it does happen), I just don't like reading about it. I would much rather read about someone overcoming their past instead of becoming it. I like to see damaged children beat the odds. Call me an optimist in that regard.

Things this book does well are as follows: awesome protagonist (Rosie is one of King's best female characters, says this guy [cue eye rolls]); the gore toward the end of the book is classic King and disturbing as hell; the Dark Tower tie-ins; the thematic elements; the bull mask. Yeah, I dug all that. And if you dig King, I think you will too.

Expect spoilers for several King books if you click on View Spoiler. You've been warned.

Obvious Tie-Ins:
Ka
Paul Sheldon (his Misery novels are mentioned half a dozen times throughout the book)
Susan Day (Insomnia)
Rose Madder turns into a spider creature, much like Pennywise and Mordred.

Theoretical Tie-Ins:
Any of you that read my Decade with King posts will know that I believe all of King's books tie into one of three things: It, The Tommyknockers, or the Dark Tower series. Well, all the glowing green shit in this book makes me think the Temple of the Bull might be somehow connected to the Great Old Ones from the Prim. Perhaps the temple is where the Grays were worshipped once upon a when? It does beg the question...

(spoiler show)


In summation: There are much better Stephen King books, there are much worse Stephen King books. If you read all his books in order from Carrie to (as of writing this review) Revival, you should hit this one about the right time. In other words, I would place it smack dab in the middle, exactly where it lands in his career's timeline.

Final Judgment: Not everything in this temple is bullshit.

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text 2015-03-30 18:49
Reading progress update: I've read 242 out of 418 pages.
Rose Madder - Stephen King

All this glowing green shit only helps support my theory that the Tommyknockers originated in Mid-World. 

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