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Search tags: stephen-king-reread
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review 2017-12-30 14:59
DESPERATION Review
Desperation - Stephen King

Here we have it, folks: the biggest shock yet in the Stephen King reread.

 

Before today, I considered Desperation bottom-of-the-barrel King. Desperate King. I felt the religiosity was blatant, tasteless; the story derivative of things King had done better before. Funny how our tastes evolve and change as we get older, isn’t it? My sole reading of this novel was in my sophomore year of high school — about six years’ worth of stuff has happened to me since then. What can I say, I was able to appreciate this epic, apocalyptic tale—King’s take on the book of Revelation, so to speak.

 

What I didn’t pick up on before is just how visceral and gruesome Desperation is: King gleefully rips and mangles his characters in ways not seen since his early years. What this makes for is a novel that, while sometimes overly pretentious in its theological posturing, is packed to the brim with scene after scene of gleeful, demonic, sexual terror. This is perhaps the one and only time a King novel reads like Clive Barker, albeit with more doses of Jesus and Americana than Barker has ever gone for.

 

I have to say it, though . . . I don’t like David. Nope. Kid suffers from Mother Abagail Syndrome: a supposed prophet of God, he comes off as pompous and grating in his assuredness. Even after what happens to him during the course of the story, I can’t muster up any sympathy for him. From him comes this novel’s most frustrating religious elements (the sardines and crackers scene— *rolls eyes into the back of my head*) and I’m just not here for it.

 

Like The Dark Half and Firestarter before it, rereading this novel made me appreciate the work and see what it is others see. While certainly not perfect, this is one of Stephen King’s most unsettling and provocative works. If one is looking for scares, he or she could do much worse.

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text 2017-11-06 20:12
Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 690 pages.
Desperation - Stephen King

The chronological Stephen King reread continues...

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review 2017-09-01 21:08
THE GREEN MILE Review
The Green Mile - Stephen King,Mark Geyer
A change of scenery from Stephen King's usual territory of Maine usually makes for some of the author's most arresting and impressive fiction (see Duma KeyThe Shining, and The Stand). King is an author who seems to thrive on challenge, and setting some stories' locales outside his comfort zone typically yields successful results. The Green Mile, a historical fiction novel set in the Deep South during the Depression, attests to this. 

Going into this read, I could not entirely remember if I'd ever finished The Green Mile in the first place. I recall starting it in tenth grade, and reading the initial chapters over downtime during driver's education. But I really don't think I finished it . . . and why, I'm not sure. Sure, I've seen the movie adaptation tons of times; therefore, I was familiar with the story's ending. Yet that didn't rob this 1996 novel of its quiet, meditative power. 

After the flabby and exhausting Insomnia and Rose Madder, this was a breath of fresh air. Since The Green Mile was originally published in serial form (a fact I know every single one of you already know, but I feel obligated to say it anyhow), one can tell King really worked hard to cut off the fat and stick to the good stuff. There isn't a word out of place here: no needless plot lines or wasted dialogue. Everything introduced to the reader is here for a reason. This story has a killer beginning and only gets better, eventually winding down with one of the most heart-wrenching and rewarding endings my favorite author has written to date. 

In short, this work is a marvel. On display is some of the most muscular character work King has managed; not to mention the masterful use of setting. Over every page looms a sense of doom and sorrow; around every corner are hauntings from the past felt by real people, these characters who seem to almost leap off the page. 

I'm not totally sure if this is in my top 5, but it might be. It just might be. 

King Connections:

None, say thankya.

Favorite Quote:

"Time takes it all, whether you want it or not. Time takes it all, time bears it away, and in the end there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.”

Up Next:

Tomorrow (9/1) is the start of Halloween Bingo! I'll be reading Desperation for my American Horror Story square.
 

 

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review 2017-08-30 22:04
ROSE MADDER Review
Rose Madder - Stephen King

Stephen King once famously proclaimed himself the Big Mac and fries of literature — meaning his works are popular and enjoyable, albeit perhaps lacking in nourishment. I heartily disagree with that assessment, for the most part. Novels such as ITDolores Claiborne, and The Dead Zone are intricate, multi-layered masterstrokes; methinks King is too modest in regards to his own creations. 

However. . . the Maine author's observation does hold true in a few select cases. Christine is a barrel of fun, but it certainly offers no depth. That's cool. King's 1983 novel about a haunted car is campy horror at its campiest. I think I would put Rose Madder in the Big Mac and fries category, too: while fun and involving, one comes away feeling full but perhaps not particularly satisfied. 

This is a brutal, hard-edged tale of spousal abuse, escape, and recovery. The main character is Rose, a woman dealt physical and mental trauma from her husband for fourteen years. Rose Madder is her journey to self-discovery and freedom. Like previous novels Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne, King takes an unflinching and daring look at femininity and what it takes to be a woman in the modern age. And, for the most part, he succeeds. 

Perhaps my biggest problem with this story is not the infamous magical painting Rose escapes into (a plot point that didn't work for me the first time around, but I had a bit more fun with it on this reread), but Norman — the abusive husband. This dude is so over-the-top it's unreal. King is a master at creating despicable, terrifying humans; it's nothing short of fascinating that he failed so completely with Norman. He's a walking cliche, and King never takes the time to give the reader any reason to sympathize with him. He's just CRAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY from literally page one, and he only gets worse. Because of that, much of this novel's potential menace is lost. Shame. 

That said, the mythological elements of this novel . . . are interesting. They don't always work, and sometimes they seem awkwardly juxtaposed with the woman-on-the-run thriller feel, but it's whatever. King would explore escaping into an alternate, mythic world to better effect in Lisey's Story

Rose Madder is Stephen King at his most average. While containing interesting ideas, some captivating prose (especially that prologue — sheeeeesh!), and a serviceable main character in Rose, this novel just feels tired, inessential. At times I got the sense King was getting bored with the story, and was ready to finish the damn thing. Recommended, but perhaps only for King completists. 

King Connections:

There are a few tangential connections to Dark Tower, such as references to ka and the City of Lud. 

Paul Sheldon of Misery fame gets a few generous shoutouts. 

Favorite Quote: 

"In that instant she knew what it must feel like to cross a river into a foreign country, and then set fire to the bridge behind you, and stand on the riverbank, watching and breathing deeply as your only chance of retreat went up in smoke.” 

Up Next:

I thought Desperation was next, but I forgot The Green Mileexists. Ha!

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review 2017-04-29 19:34
DOLORES CLAIBORNE Review
Dolores Claiborne - Stephen King

Five stars for one of my very favorite Stephen King stories: the enthralling and legendary 1993 novel, Dolores Claiborne.

 

As old as this book is, and considering it was made into a big budget film starring Kathy Bates (my favorite King adaption, by the way), almost everyone knows the plot — so I won't rehash too much. But I will say this is the story of a woman — easily the strongest woman King has ever created, and simply one of the best damn female main characters I've ever come across in fiction. This is her story — her confessional — all told in first-person, in Maine dialect. The writing style is unique, something most authors wouldn't have been able to pull off . . . but King isn't most authors. Novels like this one are why he is my favorite writer, full stop.

 

There is so much I want to say about this book and I find I can't really say much at all. A complex, taut, fast-paced domestic thriller/drama/mystery, this ranks among King's most un-put-downable and intriguing. defy any reader to finish the story and not think of Dolores from time to time.

 

A classic. A must-read. Etc.

 

Favorite Quote

 

"In the fifties... when they had their summer parties - there were always different colored lanterns on the lawn... and I get the funniest chill. In the end the bright colors always go out of life, have you noticed that? In the end, things always look gray, like a dress that's been washed too many times.”

 

King Connections

 

Several references to Shawshank prison are mentioned.

 

On page 226, Dolores is driving home on the day of the eclipse and takes note of the deserted roads — she comments on how hey reminded her of "that small town downstate" where it is rumored "no one lives there anymore." A reference to 'Salem's Lot? I'll say maybe.

 

This is the 'sister' novel of Gerald's Game. Both books' most crucial moments take place on the day of the eclipse.

 

Up Next

 

It's a world of color, a world of darkness . . . It's Insomnia.

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