My PC heat-quited on me while writing my review, so take two.
This was a bit of a let down.
First of all, it's such a depressing collection. I looked forward to the horror bits because they were at least lively (and even those were a lot more scarce than usual).
Second, because I had already read some of the longer stories, and none was that worthy of a second pass. Well, maybe Morality, but hell.
If I had to list the ones I really liked, I'd go with Drunken Fireworks, because while predictable, it made me laugh and I needed it; Mr Yummy, because it touched an odd bittersweet chord; Green God of Agony was very neat; and Under the Weather because it was so gruesome to see it coming, even if it was another depressing one.
No, seriously, this is not a happy collection. Or even an exiting one. Pick another.
That was a trip and a half.
For being such and unwieldy mammoth, the tension never lets up. Everything goes to shit fats and through infinite pages. Something to have in mind before taking a stab at it. Gave me quite the bit of anxiety (which is part of what I liked but, you know).
The set up had my mind working. I was raised in a small town, so I could more or less envision most of the human-failure troubles to come (though here they were running on a rocked fueled schedule), but some of the environmental issues I had not considered till I read about the stream. Then I knew that even in fairytale land everyone was fucked. And King does not write "friendship is magic" worlds. He likes to put the devil at the wheel.
There are many bit thoughts running through my head theme wise, like cooperation vs dictatorships, the cruelty of children, the old terrible memories of shame and guilt, that remark about how skewed the numbers between genders were (because who do you think gets scalded first, when the water starts heating? Duh), their positions (librarians, doctors, press, liberal priests, smart kids), guilt for bad deeds vs guilt for having enjoyed them. Also, the surprising bits that made me laugh (mostly bleak Gilligan's cuts that proved I have a very dark sense of humour) and the bits that made me suck my snot (most of Sammy Bushey, Ollie and Ames).
I don't know that it is a book for everybody, even King's fans, and many of the paths trailed are a rehash of The Stand in a way, but I actually liked this one's pace a lot better (grueling is not always my choice, but it's a good one when I go for thrillers or scares, so plus).
On the whole, there were no big surprises, but I quite like it. And I'm exhausted.
When I was around two thirds in, I started idly concocting a review in my brain, about how the almost surreal elements and characters was what gave this narrative such a verisimilitude. Cue me over the 80% mark, just going to search for a detail, and finding out this is nonfiction. Sure, there are artistic licenses, but in essence?
I love it when knowing absolutely nothing about a book pays up in such ways.
As I mentioned previously in an update, the general tone reminded me a lot of latinoamerican writing. This has a lot to do with the conservative (and quirky) societies that brew in relatively small, isolated towns. You have the sedate and beautiful surface, and the decades, generations, long ugly undercurrents. Everyone "behaves" in public out of a certain need for society and peace, and whomever "pops" may as well go the whole nine-yards and wear it like a flag.
So, that's basically the aim: to illustrate Savannah. The plot as it were serves the theme. We go into the deep ugly undercurrents. Almost every ugly you can imagine. Sometimes you are enraged and amused at the same time from the sheer hypocrisy rampant. I spent most of the book in some queer state of entertained stupefaction because it is so grotesque you almost can't believe it. But you do. You recognize it. It is your hometown.
*whines* It's still miserable, windy winter here!! How do I combat the chills this induced? *shudder*
Whenever I read stories like this, I remember that quote "novels win by points, short stories by knock outs". I know I was already whimpering one page in. I finished with a wiki-walk and... How come every interpretation is so... mild? compassionate? forgiving?... of the husband?
I get time and society marching on, and symbolism, but how come picking the barred, dreary, ex-nursery with mismatched furniture and a purposely for that visit nailed down bed makes any but malicious sense?
No monster, no gore, but hell, psychological mind-fucks will forever get me shivering