laguera25: Dug from UP! (Default)
( Jan. 29th, 2014 09:58 pm)
Five thousand four hundred and sixty-three words this week.

I finally finished Doctor Sleep today. I enjoyed this blast from my nostalgic childhood past, but for all the story's insistence that the members of the True Knot were fearsome adversaries, they ultimately proved to be lackluster opponents for Daniel Torrance and the ueber-charged Abra. The climactic battle was rather sedate in comparison to all that had gone before, and its conclusion was rather abrupt.

I fell in love with the characters, however, especially kindly old Billy Freeman.

Worth a read, but not his best.
Another one thousand and sixteen down. That makes two thousand and sixteen words for March.

I started The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub last night. I've loved Uncle Stevie since I was wee and devoured everything he's ever written except Eye of the Dragon and The Dark Tower series, but I've only read Ghost Story on the Straub end of the spectrum. Straub can be very evocative, but there's a melancholy dreariness to his work that can be very draining, and there are instances in the early going of this nine hundred and ninety-page behemoth when it clashes with King's folksier, more immediate style. I'm not sure how they collaborated; maybe they alternated chapters or each claimed sections, but sometimes, it seems like they've actually written chapters together, with one supplying the bulk of the narrative and the other infusing it with favored elements. I'd bet money that the sand dervish and Speedy Lester are King creations. He has a well-established boner for the Magical Negro and Gimp Invested with Supernatural Powers and Heroic Levels of Nobility tropes.

I'm not going to lie: I eat up the Heroic Psychic Cripple trope with a spoon. Hell, I'd eat it bare-handed if I had to. It often veers into the saccharine and cheesily convenient, but that's more satisfying than the utter invisibility in most imaginary worlds. In King's world, cripples can make a difference and be heroes and contribute to the fight against the menacing evil that threatens the world of the book, and just like everyone else, they get hurt and die, and even if they survive, the world often goes right on being unfair. They're still crippled and blind and autistic and retarded, and they're usually lonelier than when they started because the people who loved them have died. The noble, forebearing, inspirational, revered-by-everyone-but-the-asshole tack he takes when it comes to the characterization and inclusion of disabled characters is irksome to someone like me, who has all the serenity and loveability of a vulture with GERD, but at least they're there. At least I can see myself in their faces, picture myself undertaking similar adventures and leaving my mark on the world, and I will be eternally grateful for that.

As far as his love of the Magical Negro, I suspect it's just an extension and continuation of a much older trope, that of the wise old mentor, a station whose eminent luminaries include Gandalf, Obi-wan, Dumbledore, Merlin, the fairy godmother, and others whose histories stretch into the darkness of the cave. I also suspect that King isn't an expert on cultures not his own and is just doing the best he can. Hence, John Coffey, Mother Abigail(a twofer here, because she's black and blind), and Dick Halloran are heavy-handed symbols of the ultimate good. They are also archetypal mentors who impart their wisdom to the heroes and then dutifully die or otherwise depart from their lives forevermore. His attempts at inclusion might be imperfect, but he's trying, and his stories would be poorer without these characters. In the case of John Coffey, without him, there would be no story.

...And I have no idea where that scrap of muddled lit crit came from. Perhaps it was a last gasp from my atrophying analytical faculties.
laguera25: Dug from UP! (Default)
( Mar. 3rd, 2012 04:12 pm)
We came through the storms unscathed. I spent the night listening to "Mile 81" and "The Dune" with noise-canceling headphones. "Mile 81" had some unsettling moments, but it lost its footing with the feeble ending. King's strongest moments are in his character interactions, and once again, he made me feel for the players in this tragedy. I felt especially terrible for Trooper Jimmy, who doesn't understand the little girl's warning until it's too late. But empathy only goes so far, and when he unveiled the idiotic, copout ending, I could only shake my head in disappointed disbelief.

"The Dune," however... Good God, what a creepy story. It helped that the story was read by Edward Herrmann, he of the History Channel voiceovers. Readers make all the difference in audiobooks. Get a good narrator, and the story can draw you in and carry you away; a bad one can make you wish someone would puncture your eardrums with a spoon. Edward Herrmann is a wonderful narrator who imbues each character with a distinct voice and personality. I could listen to him all day. I saw the twist coming as soon as the second character made his appearance, and Herrmann's delivery of the final line still raised gooseflesh.

I'm off to finish my latest book and putter about with my puzzle.
laguera25: Dug from UP! (Default)
( Mar. 1st, 2012 02:51 pm)
We came through yesterday unscathed. In fact, despite dire predictions of doom and woe, we only received a spattering of light rain. Nearby areas were hardly so fortunate, however, and we're slated to get hammered again tomorrow. So I will likely be scare until Saturday, holed up as I'll be with my books.

While wandering around the Walmart in hopes of avoiding death by collapsed mobile home, I found an Audiobook of "Mile 81" by Stephen King, a short story previously available exclusively on Kindle. As much as I love Uncle Stevie, I refuse to spend eighty dollars for a three-dollar ebook, so I had resigned myself to going without until it appeared in his next anthology. But no! All I need is a CD player, of which I have several. So score for me. It also features a bonus story, "Dune", which was published in a limited-run genre magazine in October 2011. I haven't read that one, either, so I'm doubly excited.


A Winter Stroll )

I love Rock-God!Richard, but Everyday!Richard makes me so happy. I'm not sure if he's digging the photo shoot, though. He doesn't look pissed, but he doesn't look happy, either. He looks resigned. I understand wanting a picture with a rock star, but why would you just snap one of a rock star if you're not in it? They're not zoo exhibits.
Last night, I was seized by the urge to read Stephen King's short story, "Grey Matter." If you have a weak stomach, give this one a miss. There is a scene in the story involving a dead cat that is just...urk. The first time I read it, my gorge rose so dangerously that I thought I was going to ruin the book. If you can handle it, however, give it a read, because it's a delightfully creepy yarn told by a band of grizzled old Mainers, and the atmosphere in it made me a King fan for life("Bogeyman" made me a zealot. "So nice, soooo nice...).

So, I went to get my copy of Night Shift, only to discover it wasn't there, Neither were several other King paperbacks that I'd snagged from various used bookstores. Indeed, most of his pre-nineties catalogue was missing. At first, I thought Roomie had simply moved them to the bookshelf in the one room in the house I cannot enter(yes, a room in my own house is utterly inaccessible to me. Welcome to my world), but he checked the room, and they weren't there, either.

Ahahahaha! Fuck you, mother. I can only surmise that she either tossed them during the move two years ago because she was too miserly to rent the U-Haul and opted to stuff what she could fit of my worldly possessions into her minivan and forsake the rest, or she swiped them for her "garage sale" during one of her "thorough cleans". Because they're only cheap, yellowing paperbacks, and it's not like Stephen King is an author to whom I have an attachment. Besides, she could get a whole dime each for them at the garage sale that will surely make Walmart tremble upon its mighty foundations.

It's hardly a calamity, but some of the older covers were amazing, and the edition of The Bachman Books I had included "Rage", a short story that was taken out of print because it treated with a school shooting. I think it has come back into print now, but still. Now I have to comb Amazon Marketplace for a reputable seller and replace eight or nine books. And this is why I'm a paranoid wreck who refuses to let my relatives near my things if I'm not there and suspects my mother of being a shameless, miserable cunt.
Last night, I was seized by the urge to read Stephen King's short story, "Grey Matter." If you have a weak stomach, give this one a miss. There is a scene in the story involving a dead cat that is just...urk. The first time I read it, my gorge rose so dangerously that I thought I was going to ruin the book. If you can handle it, however, give it a read, because it's a delightfully creepy yarn told by a band of grizzled old Mainers, and the atmosphere in it made me a King fan for life("Bogeyman" made me a zealot. "So nice, soooo nice...).

So, I went to get my copy of Night Shift, only to discover it wasn't there, Neither were several other King paperbacks that I'd snagged from various used bookstores. Indeed, most of his pre-nineties catalogue was missing. At first, I thought Roomie had simply moved them to the bookshelf in the one room in the house I cannot enter(yes, a room in my own house is utterly inaccessible to me. Welcome to my world), but he checked the room, and they weren't there, either.

Ahahahaha! Fuck you, mother. I can only surmise that she either tossed them during the move two years ago because she was too miserly to rent the U-Haul and opted to stuff what she could fit of my worldly possessions into her minivan and forsake the rest, or she swiped them for her "garage sale" during one of her "thorough cleans". Because they're only cheap, yellowing paperbacks, and it's not like Stephen King is an author to whom I have an attachment. Besides, she could get a whole dime each for them at the garage sale that will surely make Walmart tremble upon its mighty foundations.

It's hardly a calamity, but some of the older covers were amazing, and the edition of The Bachman Books I had included "Rage", a short story that was taken out of print because it treated with a school shooting. I think it has come back into print now, but still. Now I have to comb Amazon Marketplace for a reputable seller and replace eight or nine books. And this is why I'm a paranoid wreck who refuses to let my relatives near my things if I'm not there and suspects my mother of being a shameless, miserable cunt.
There was some excitement in Rammfen when it looked like the Rammgents had joined the Twitter hordes, but after some of the more skeptical fen scrutinized the tweets, it appears they've been debunked as fake accounts. While it would've been hilarious to see Richard post every scrap of brain lint to his account, I'm not surprised the accounts weren't genuine; for the most part, the band members seem to prize their privacy when they're not onstage with their dick cannons and ass-flattering lion jeans and leather booty hosen.

There isn't much going on at Camp Guera. I've written my ass off on my Rammstein/NYC adventure and part XV of Sprache, but mostly, I've been watching Silent Hill video game walkthroughs on Youtube. Watching them is much less frustrating than playing them and being thwarted by my spastic hands and inexact motor skills. I get all of the pleasure of watching the drama and mystery unfold without the childish temptation to hurl my controller through the television when I've been pummeled by the same boss for the sixty-third time.

I also read Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King.

Review of Full Dark, No Stars--SPOILERS )

If it hadn't been for "A Good Marriage", I would have called it an average collection, but the inclusion of "Marriage" elevates it to "must-read" status.
OMG, Uncle Stevie is releasing a new collection of stories on November 9. Excuse me while I shamelessly embrace my inner Daffy.

It's MINE! ALL MINE!! DO YOU HEAR ME? MINE! MINEMINEMINEMINE!!

Ahem. Sorry. Just had to get that out of the way. God bless you, Amazon, for alerting me to this imminent glut of manna from heaven.

Book Review: Horns--Minor SPOILERS )

Joe Hill is a good writer now. He'll be a great one when he stops trying to prove that he belongs in the room with the other writers and just writes what he knows, just stoppers his ears to the outside world and takes dictation from the voice in the unlit basement of his brain.

A solid effort hampered by a writer who doesn't trust his voice yet. B-
Charlie the tree is looking more sprightly after a bit of primping. Roomie straightened his branches and fluffed the needles and tugged him upright, and while he's still sporting a profound case of root dysplasia, he no longer looks like a scoliosis sufferer.

Today was a good day. I ate some quality pig and picked up a quarter ham for my first Christmas dinner in the new place. We could do with some mashed potatoes, I think, and maybe a pie. Cherry or pumpkin. It won't be the kingly spread put out by my family in Florida--turkey and green bean casserole and booze--but at least I'll be spared my aunt's Waldorf salad. She makes it every holiday despite the fact that no one touches it for fear of spending the rest of the night kissing the toilet with the clenching, heaving lips of their tortured asshole. No food should look like an unfortunate accident at a porno film catering area.

I will miss the candied yams, though.

I've been working on a Flack/Stanhope fic set post-"Cuckoo's Nest" for the past six weeks. I'd hoped to have it done by Christmas, but as is customary for me, the simple wee plotkit blossomed into Herman the giant bunny. It's at 9,400 words and counting, and on reflection, the subject matter isn't very festive unless your idea of a good time is a frustrated, heartbroken Rebecca detonating on a hungover, contrite Flack and accusing him of an affair with Angell, in which case, I can only imaginer your holiday gatherings and recoil. If I were going for festive, methinks I should've written the one where Flack buys Rebecca a Tempurpedic bed for Christmas and then worries that she'll think it's lame.

I'm got so many ideas in the pipeline, but scant motivation. Mostly, I want to sit around and watch TV and pretend I'm not sorely disappointed with the hackneyed, thudding heap of rehashed characters and plotlines that is Under the Dome. I liked Dale Barbara well enough, but with every page, I became more and more certain that I've read this book and met these characters before, like, say, in The Stand, which is a grander, far superior book. And the constant, not very subtle sermonizing about the evils of the Iraq War grew irksome. After the tour de forces that were Duma Key and Lisey's Story, I thought Stephen King had regained his masterful stride and escaped the boggy pit of self-reference into which he often falls, but no such luck. This one belongs in the steerage of his pantheon, right next to Cell, which started out well but rapidly deteriorated into a morass of self-cannibalism. I made it to page 613 of Dome and stopped, and unless I get supremely bored some grey, winter afternoon when the cable and Internet go out, it will be the second King book I've ever abandoned(Cell was the first.). It's a shame, but even the best weavers occasionally slip a stitch, I suppose.
No, I've not died, nor have I flounced from LJ in a strop because no one appreciates my obvious greatness. The weather was dangerously abysmal from Tuesday until Friday, and on Thursday evening, a fierce squall passed through my neighborhood, downing trees and power lines and laying waste to the power grid. The lights went out at 6:30PM and stayed out until late Friday afternoon, when the oft-maligned utility company worked a miracle and restored service in twenty-two hours. I don't know how they did it, because there were splintered power poles and felled trees everywhere, and I was sure cleanup would take days. The linemen have henceforth earned the right to walk around without pants, and I won't complain a jot about paying the bill this month.

The foul weather ensured that I missed NCIS, The Mentalist, and Supernatural, of course. I'm disappointed, especially at the loss of Supernatural, which is ramping up to its traditional slambang climax. Summaries read after the fact have only whet my appetite since it sounds like Castiel has gone off the reservation and risked his Divine grace to save Dean. I don't think Misha Collins is a stud on stilts, but I do love Castiel and his bizarre deadpan emo. A conflicted angel is a recipe for maximum angst, and angst whore that I am, I'm eating it up with a ladle.

What else? I bought T.H. White's The Once and Future King yesterday in anticipation of the protracted blackout. It's a book I've been eyeing for years, ever since I noticed Professor X reading it to his students in X2. I'm currently reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman a chapter at a time. What a beautiful story, and most certainly not the saccharine glurge so often written for children. I doubt many writers have the chutzpah to write so frankly and gently about death.

"I want to ride the horse," Bod said to the Grey Lady.

"Everyone does, eventually," she said.

"You promise?"

"Yes."

What a delicious, clear bit of prose, the pip of a summer peach, still slick with juice.

I also reread "The Jaunt", a Stephen King short story from Skeleton Crew. I hadn't planned to, but I few days ago,I caught myself thinking of the story's climactic scene and got a serious yen for it, so I pulled it off the shelf in Barnes and Noble and gulped it down. It was as creepy and unsettling as I'd remembered.

"I saw! I saw! Longer than you think, Dad! Longer than you think!"

Let's just say that when teleportation does become a transit option, I won't be the first in line, and when I do Jaunt, I'll accept the gas with open arms.
Back in November, I rushed out and got my grubby little paws on Stephen King's newest collection of short stories, Just After Sunset. Half of the collection I'd read piecemeal in various magazines and anthologies and found universally solid. So I had high hopes for the other half.

On the main, I was disappointed. Only one of the previously unread stories was bad, but three were lackluster. "Willa" was a potboiler spook yarn about people who don't know they're dead. I've read the story before in superior iterations. I've seen a fine iteration of it in Sixth Sense. A literary example of a superior spin on the tale is "The Outsider" by H.P. Lovecraft, though in that case, the bogey in question is a rotting corpse, not a ghost.

"Willa" is an incredibly weak story, and I suspect it was little more than filler with which to meet the magical number of thirteen. It was bland and felt unfinished, as though he'd simply cobbled enough words together to call it a plot and moved on.

King is the same man who has gifted the world with such gems as "Survivor Type", "Gramma"(Oh, my God, I never wanted to be around old ladies again after that. Holy fuck.), "Home Delivery", "The Monkey", and "Chattery Teeth". I know he can do better, because I've been privileged to read it when he does. Oh, "L.T.'s Theory on Pets" is another proof of his prowess in this form. So why include such a humdrum story if not for the simple need to fulfill a quota?

Then again, perhaps that role went to "The Cat From Hell", which was a waste of tree pulp. He simply threw a handful of horror tropes into the word processor, and the misbegotten, wet fart of juvenile gross-out porn was what the trusty HP printer spat out. I'm all for a gory denouement, but I also prefer a bit of character development, at least enough to allow me to set my moral compass. "Cat" was just a sophisticated exercise in self-indulgent dick-fiddling for which he was paid 28.00 a pop.

"A Very Tight Place" was a story that simply derailed in an adolescent soup of poop. Literally. It wasn't the abomination that was "Cat", and I found myself thinking of the story for days thereafter, but it was also little more than a prolonged potty joke.


The bad was bad but the good was absolutely beautiful and often sublime. The absolute standouts of the collection were "N" and "The Things They Left Behind." The latter's title reminded me of The Things They Carried, the collection by Tim O'Brien. That collection dealt with the burdens, collective and personal, carried by a platoon of soldiers in Vietnam. King's collection of the things 9/11 victims left behind is a haunting, beautiful treatment of a very tender subject and speaks more eloquently to the unfinished business of unexpected loss and the tenacity of even the most tenuous of human connections than any bloated psychobabble bible ever could. "Behind" is a story I wish I could have written.

And then there was "N". "N" justifies the $28.00 price tag, and I would've paid it for this story alone. "N" is a creepy homage to Lovecraft that functions as a clinic on how to build a story. The pacing is sublime, and the tension builds to an unbearable level. I wanted to stop reading at times because I knew that this was a story that could have no happy ending, that this was a quintessential Bad Place from which no one escaped unscathed. Yet I kept reading because the goblin in me had to see just how deep the darkness ran. The answer? Pretty damn deep. And I was right: nobody got out unscathed. In fact, most people didn't get out at all.

The rest of the stories ranged from serviceable to very good. "Mute" was a delicious vengeance yarn, and "The New York Times at Bargain Basement Rates" was a sweet glimpse of the enduring nature of love, a bite-sized Bag of Bones. "Ayana" was a tale of the cost of paying it forward. "Harvey's Dream" was a story about terrible parental prescience, and "Gingerbread Girl" was about the corrosive nature of unbearable loss("Live babies are the glue of a marriage; dead ones are acid."). "Stationary Bike" explored the notion that even the healthiest hobbies can become an obsession and reminded us that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. "Rest Stop" was a story about how writerly fantasy temporarily gave rise to an unlikely hero.

Just after Sunset is a Whitman's Sampler of King's wares, and like its sugary counterpart, it's got its hits and misses. "N" is the strawberry creme; "A Very Tight Place" is the caramel that sticks to the roof of your mouth no matter how much you scour your palate with your tongue; "The Cat From Hell" is the coconut creme or the stale peanut candy that makes your ass and mouth pucker in a perfect symmetry of disgust. There are undeniable disappointments, but there is also vintage King, and he's still the only author that can justify the asking price of a collection with the sheer artistry and resonance of a single story.

B- because "The Cat From Hell" really was that bad.
The wicked bitch paper from hell is done, baby, done. And twenty-four hours ahead of schedule, too. I still have to churn out a works cited page, but the essay proper has been printed out and will be stapled as soon as I append the bibliography page. Eleven pages and three thousand three hundred and ninety-eight words later, the ordeal is over. I can breathe again.

I had planned to spend countless idle hours on LJ tomorrow as a reward, but it appears that the service will be offline because of a server move. They claim that the move should take only four hours, but as a veteran of numerous LJ clusterfucks since 2003, I suspect that we'll be sitting here three days after the move, screaming down the walls for the server monkeys to get the site running again. I fully expect to lose entries and userpics or maybe my entire account. I find it best to expect the worst, so that when it doesn't happen, I rediscover the last dying embers of my hope.

In lieu of cavorting merrily on the Internet, free of cares and obligations, I'll be reading Right to Die, the latest CSI:Miami tie-in novel, by Jeff Mariotte. Mariotte is the painfully constipated hack who gleefully butchered Sam and Dean in the dreadful Supernatural novel, Witch's Canyon, and I'm sure he'll do his best to sink to the occasion of that fantastic nadir. Then again, Horatio and crew are so grotesque caricatures of humanity that Mariotte might work magic despite himself. If he doesn't, I've several other books to read.

Speaking of reading, I've read Just After Sunset, Uncle Stevie's latest collection of grue and human truths; of course I have; I beat feet to the store the day it came out and morphed into a Death Race 2000 contestant in the Barnes and Noble. As George Carlin once said, It's not always a straight line, is it? You have to plan your route.

Straight over the bones, baby, and no pity for the aged, the obese, or the thunderingly stupid.

Was it worth it? Absolutely, but more and more, Uncle Stevie has forsaken the monsters that go bump in the night for those that wear human faces. It's not a bad change of quarry by any means, but I'm melancholy and nostalgic for the giddy, dry-mouthed, swooning terror of It or Salem's Lot.

I'll discuss this in greater detail, along with other recently-read books, as soon as LJ revives from Medically-Induced Server Coma '08.

Until then, I bid you adieu.
After days of threatening, the Red Bloat arrived this morning, and unsurprisingly, I feel like hammered shit. I tried to curl up with Mr. Bump, but I was too tired to sleep, so I shambled into the bathroom and slumped in the shower until the water ran cold. Now, I'm doped on Advil and full of brown sugar oatmeal, and I doubt I'll see 10PM. Bleah.

Things are hardly all bad, however. Tomorrow, Dr. Hot will discuss Kronos the Titan. I can't remember being this excited about a class in years. Maybe it's because he's a throwback to the early days of teaching, when the instructors taught instead of functioning as finishing school babysitters. No sign-in sheets, no attendance policy, no tree-hugging discussion groups meant to foster a sense of hive mind cooperation, no group work where the smart kid gets saddled with four times the responsibility while his fellow group members text their friends and revise their IPod playlists. Just individual work, individual merit, and personal responsibility.

Thank you, God.

Even better, while surfing the Internet last night, I discovered that Stephen King will release a new collection of short stories on November 11 and a new novel entitled Under the Dome in 2009. I can promise you that I'll leave a trail of rubber on the road on those hallowed dates, and woe betide the fool who impedes my path to such sacred texts. The yuppie cellphone fellator that reaches for my precious copies of Uncle Stevie's love letters to the universe will leave with a bloody stump. Bool. The end.

You want to know the best part, the part that made me give serious thought to touching myself in highly inappropriate ways in front of my email inbox? Dome is rumored to be 1,800 manuscript pages long. Surely you know what that means, kiddies. It means that even after his long-suffering editor wades through the manuscript with a highlighter and a weedeater, Uncle Stevie's going to come out with a goddamn doorstop of delicious word porn.

I can't wait. Maybe I'll use it on the next peon to treat me like a zoo exhibit. That certainly ought to leave an impression.
As predicted, kindly old Uncle Stevie lured me into the deep, dark forest and gobbled me whole. I'm not going to go into detail yet because I'm riding out a spate of severe weather at the school and typing my most intimate thoughts on a keyboard not my own is an odd act of inexplicable infidelity.

Suffice to say that Duma Key is a fitting end to a triptych of stories about families, and about loss. Bag of Bones and Lisey's Story treated on death and the dissolution it brings. They dealt with the loss of a spouse; Duma deals with the loss of an adult child, divorce and the weight of loss that it so savagely carries, and the quite literal loss of self. It's also a fair and beautiful warning about the sacrifice creativity demands of its creator. Sometimes, creativity consumes the wielder, an act of cannibalism so exquisite that you don't know it's happening until the pink, glistening meat of its gullet slides over your bulging eyes.

And once again Uncle Stevie has lines of simple hilarity and beauty. To wit:

...Dry Fuck One and Dry Fuck Two, like two characters in an obscene Dr. Seuss tale.

Pain is the cost of love.

Yes. Just...yes. Everything I've been trying to say in one simple line. How I adore that man. But I envy him, too.

You will want to, but you mustn't.
Oh, but Elizabeth.
Sometimes you have no choice.


The man's so beautiful, it hurts.
A few days back, [livejournal.com profile] maccaj asked me what I thought of Lisey's Story, Stephen King's most recent novel. It is, in fact, his best novel since the clutch of word children that produced Bag of Bones, Dolores Claiborne, and Gerald's Game. It's leagues better than From a Buick 8 and Cell, two incomprehensible messes that said not very much over a great many pages. I'm inclined to forgive their incoherence, however, since they were written in the aftermath of his near-fatal hit-and-run, and pain and good drugs likely colluded to dull his usually keen sense of story and narrative rhythm.

Lisey's Story is a return to his fighting trim, a thoughtful, melancholy, bittersweet exploration of grief and the art of saying goodbye. It's also about family-the ones into which we're born and the ones we choose to make. It's about brothers and fathers and husbands and wives. In many ways, it's the female counterpart to the masculine portrait of grief in Bag of Bones. It's about those left behind and final acts of love by those who've left.

It's lyrical and beautiful and threaded with insights into the often overlooked brutality of love. At one point, the newly widowed Lisey muses that if people truly comprehended the risk and cost involved in love, they would never take that leap. The sentiment was much more beautifully expressed, of course, and if I can be arsed to pick up my copy of the book, I'll quote it in its entirety. The first time I read it, it struck me like a punch and knotted my throat.

King is a consummate wordsmith, and he crafts some doozies here. "Bool." "Blood-bool." "Bool-ya Moon." "Bad-gunky". And, of course, "Incunks."

What a delightfully evocative word that is. Incunks. Incunks. Incunks. It conjures images of tweed-wearing, pipe-smoking, tight-assed intellectuals with patches on their elbows and squint lines in the corners of their eyes from countless squinty hours in library basements. I've decided that if I ever become a famous writer, the Incunks can kindly keep their dusty hands off my unpublished papers and out of their pants. Let them dribble their sticky pretension over someone else's lost words. I know what I meant to say and what I didn't, and eager, Johnny-come-lately interpreters with teakwood hard-ons and ivory heads need not apply. Fucking Incunks.

Bool.

The end.
I've two catches from the mythpool, and I'll need to decide today which to keep and which to set aside. Sam Winchester would like to have a word, if I please, but Flack is also loitering hopefully in the background with fresh opportunities for angst. Maybe I'll write a paragraph for each story and see which holds the strongest attraction for me.

I finally finished Stephen King's Blaze yesterday. It was not one of his stronger offerings, and when he says it was written early in his career and left unfinished until a few years ago, I believe him. It certainly read as a story stretched beyond its originally intended limits. The narrative was sparse and distracted, and I've got the sneaking suspicion that the kidnapping plot meant to tether the reader to the present was an afterthought. The sections entrenched firmly in the past were much stronger and more vivid than the caper in which we were supposed to be so invested. In fact, the tapestry of Before is richer and more resonant than the abrupt, holy-fuck-I-got-to-the-end-now-where's-my-royalty-check-bitches conclusion. The snapshots of Before will break your heart.

There are some beautiful moments in the book, as there are in any King book, but the underlying whispered secret of the book isn't clear; it's buried beneath layers of sucking mud because he was, for once, more obsessed with scoring stylistic points than telling the story. This rare misstep might be attributable to his inexperience as a writer back then, or maybe it's not a misstep at all and is just because I find his painful noir style as palatable as a box of bran flakes. But I suspect it's because it's a story he didn't really care enough to tell. After all, it sat in his attic for thirty years.

The book contains a juicy little bonus in the back, a short story called "Memory". This is vintage King, and much better than the preceding two hundred pages of technical claptrap. According to him, it will be the basis for a new novel called Duma Key, which will be published in early 2008.
laguera25: Dug from UP! (Default)
( Jul. 5th, 2007 06:06 pm)
I saw Ratatouille today. Remy was adorable, but there was nothing groundbreaking in terms of theme or plot. As usual, it was the characters that carried the day, and I'm not sure which I liked best: Remy, his brother, Emile, the duplicitous Skinner, or Alfredo Linguini. The animation was gorgeous, and the short, "Lifted", ensures that I'll be buying the DVD. Pixar clearly shows that it is possible to create clever, engaging entertainment without descending to cruel humor and sensationalistic violence.

Their next offering, Wall.e looks adorable, and I was squeeing like a fool in the theater. Too bad it's a year away.

I want to veg and eat Nerds, but I've already procrastinated on Flackbunny, and he'd sulk if I postponed again. Besides, tomorrow is grocery day, and with nasty weather on the forecast, there's no guarantee I'll get another chance to write before Monday.

I'm going to write a bit and start reading either Blaze by Stephen King or Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
Of Note:

-Do not see 1408. Perhaps it's because I'm prejudiced by a deep love for the source material, but God, what a dreadful adaptation. The plot was subverted from a nod to the Cthulu mythos into a trite story of closure and personal redemption. It was less about the fundamental, gut-deep wrongness of the room and more about the ghosties in the room. The screenwriters failed to do their homework, because there were no ghosts in 1408. That was the point.

Noise and bad overwrought acting from John Cusack drove the nail into the coffin, and it was the third movie out of which I have ever thought of walking. Cabin Fever and Open Water were the other two, for those who were wondering.

If you want another story from the Cthulu mythos by Stephen King, read "Crouch End" from the Skeleton Crew anthology. There is a monster here. A giant, tentacled one. And odd townspeople. And a section of London where stupid American tourists disappear.


And now, I don my ranting pants.

A Rant About Flack and Danny and Their War Wounds of Woe )
So, I posted the last of Danse Macabre. Thusfar, it has gone over like a cement turd. I can only speculate that I botched its execution, or the content and implications were so repugnant and outlandish that folks could not buy into it. Either way, the fault is mine, and here's to hoping I have better luck next time.

I read Stephen King's latest short story, "The Gingerbread Girl", in Esquire. I...well, I was disappointed on my first reading. The prose and technique were fine, and his voice was strong, but its message wasn't clear. There were dead babies and crumbling marriages and crazy guys with knives, but these plot and narrative devices never gelled into a resonant whole. It was as though he reached into his grab bag of scary situations and characters, drew out a few at random, and cobbled a story together. He can and certainly has done better. But no one bats a thousand, I suppose, and he's done some fabulous work in recent years, most notably Lisey's Story and The Colorado Kid. So I'm not ready to write him off yet.

I've started Fic 2 of 13 for [livejournal.com profile] spn13, so I'm off to work on that.

A final pimp for Part XVII of Danse Macabre.
According to the Stephen King Newsletter, Mr. King will be releasing a new book on June 15th. It's a Bachmann book, actually, and it's called "Blaze". Additionally, Esquire will publish a new short story/novella by Mr. King entitled "The Gingerbread Girl" in their July issue, to be released June 15th. For a "semi-retired writer", my favorite storyteller has been prolific, indeed. Further proof that writing is an itch that can never be scratched.

And in other not-so-news, there are too many stupid people on the Internet.

I'm going to work on my first [livejournal.com profile] spn13 fic, eat cold barbecue, and wait for the Larry the Cable Guy special.
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