Tag Archives: stephen king

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett

American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett: The title of this book is somewhat misleading: American Elsewhere sounds like it should be about numerous locations across the country, not a tiny town in New Mexico, but that’s neither here nor there. Shortly after the death of her deadbeat father, Mona Bright learns she has inherited a house from her long-deceased mother in tiny Wink, New Mexico. The locals are mostly friendly but somewhat aloof, unused to strangers and seemingly afraid of basically everything. Mona later learns that there’s more to this town than she thought, from defunct super-secret government facilities to creatures that may or may not be old gods to her own mother’s mysterious past. The influence of Stephen King on this writer is obvious and extensive. Which is fine, if you like King, and I’m okay with King. This book, clocking in at just under 700 pages, is perhaps too long, but it doesn’t drag much. If you like atmospheric horror with some monsters thrown in, you may enjoy this one. As it is, I do not feel inspired to pick up any other works by this author.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Green Mile by Stephen King

The Green Mile by Stephen King: I have found I prefer King’s non-horror stories, and this was no exception. This is a serial novel in six parts (and I actually own all six individual books, in addition to the six-in-one paperback), so I’ll review each one separately.

1. The Two Dead Girls: Not a whole lot happens in this section except for exposition: you learn of John Coffey’s crime, brutally murdering and raping two young sisters, and you get to know the narrator (Paul) and some of his coworkers. One thing I noticed was that Coffey’s guilt is just assumed without much in the way of evidence. This big black man is found holding the two corpses and sobbing away, and everybody figures he must have been the one who killed them. “I couldn’t help it” could have multiple meanings, especially since he didn’t elaborate. But I guess being a black man in 1930s Louisiana was crime enough for these folks. Anyway, it was a fine enough start, though if I didn’t already have the rest of the series I probably wouldn’t have been interested enough to continue.

2. The Mouse on the Mile: I love Mr. Jingles. The dichotomy between him and the other major character introduced – the evil William Wharton – is interesting. I like how Mr. Jingles’s un-mouse-like intelligence is neither questioned nor explained, nor is Wharton’s sheer malice for everyone he encounters. Can’t wait for the next one.

3. Coffey’s Hands: Man oh man, does this one end on a cliff-hanger. Granted, I’ve seen the movie so I know (more or less) what happens, but it’s been so many years that I’d forgotten much of it. It’s at this point that Edgecomb starts to doubt Coffey’s guilt and Percy starts to go over the edge. You can feel the tension build.

4. The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix: This one is certainly well-named. For all I might not like his horror plots, King certainly knows how to describe gore vividly. That’s a mental picture I won’t be forgetting any time soon. I didn’t think I could hate Percy any more than I already did, but I managed.

5. Night Journey: Honestly, I think this was the most suspenseful installment of the entire series. Edgecomb and his crew sneak Coffey out of the prison to drop in on the warden, and any number of things could go wrong at any moment. Of course, we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, with one more book to go.

6. Coffey on the Mile: Hoo boy. If you’re looking for a good cry, you’ll probably get one reading this. I thought I was okay after the first heart-wrenching scene, but two or three more after that really got me going. But in a good way. The ending is reasonably satisfying, and kind of thought provoking. After all, since it’s told in first person it’s impossible to know for sure what happens to the narrator after the story is finished, and that kind of open-endedness is sort of neat for this sort of tale.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King

Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King: When reading King novels, I’ve often felt that the idea was good but the execution was too long and drawn out, and that in general his works would be better as short stories. So I picked up this collection of short stories and was less impressed than I’d hoped. Some of the tales were good, such as the title story, the first-person account of a man about to be autopsied alive, and the man who had been captured by terrorists, but I found most of the rest fairly forgettable. I guess I expected to be scared, at least a little bit. However, I’m not giving up just yet. I’ve been told by many King fans that his earlier stuff is best, so I’ll be on the look-out for a copy of Night Shift.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Thinner by Stephen King

Thinner by Stephen King: It’s a painfully simple concept for a story: overweight man runs down gypsy, man’s judge friend gets him off, gypsy’s father curses man, man begins to lose weight at a horrifying rate, man hunts down gypsy’s father to get curse removed. Considering all the stuff up to and including the man getting cursed happens before the book even begins, there is definitely not enough story here to fill 300+ pages. It all feels like padding – the altercation with the doctor, the stories of the judge and police chief, even the lengthy bit of tracking down the gypsy caravan. It would have been much better as a short story. I hear the movie is good, which makes sense – this is something that could easily be condensed into a 90-minute film without losing anything. (Though I hear the ending is different, which is a shame since that was one of the few parts of the book that didn’t drag on endlessly.)

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand by Stephen King: I would not exactly classify this as an “epic terror to chill your dreams,” as proclaimed by the back of the book, but I may just be desensitized. Even without an obvious horror aspect, the plot was pretty good. The many characters were mostly distinct and believable. By and large, however, the whole thing was just too danged long. A story about a superflu that wipes out 99% of the world’s population is interesting enough; was the supernatural element really necessary? I’m also surprised to learn that there is an “expanded edition” now available, which apparently contains more prose than the unabridged original version I just finished. This one was already pretty wordy and chock full of random asides that had little or nothing to do with the main plot. It wasn’t a bad book, mind, just one that could have used a bit of trimming.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

On Writing by Stephen King

On Writing by Stephen King: I have read very little King in my time – The Gunslinger might be the only one – but he is prolific and popular but not too pretentious, so he is worth listening to. This is a book in two sections: memoirs and writing advice. The memoirs felt a little tedious, but I understand why they were included. Your life – especially your childhood – is what shapes your writing.

Many writing books are either discouraging (you will never get published unless your father owns Random House) or full of shiny happy talk about creative orgasms (anyone can write brilliantly – just let it flow). King finds a happy medium between the two. While he does lay down some strict but reasonable ground rules about grammar, editing, and reading (if you don’t have the time to read, he says, you don’t have the time or the tools to write), he is also full of solid advice and real encouragement. This book was recommended to me as something every aspiring author should read. I concur.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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