16 November 2009

Literary Gluttony - Calorie-Free Bliss

Some people pig out on turkey and all the trimmings come Thanksgiving.

Others pig out on their favorite authors. I'm one of the latter.

Okay, well, I'm one of the former, too. But this post is about books. Specifically, Stephen King's latest novel, Under the Dome. All 1066 pages of it.

On Tuesday night, Beloved and I went out to eat by ourselves to celebrate her mphmptehmphth birthday. Tuesday night in Ames, Iowa is apparently not a big night for restaurants: we were seated, fed and settled up in 45 minutes, and we actually talked to each other during our meal. We had a babysitter, and loath to just willingly sacrifice the remainder of our free time for the evening, we decided to saunter on over to Borders and 'look around.' By "we," I mean "me," of course; while Beloved is not opposed to reading, she's also not a huge fan, either. But she humored me (and really, isn't that how we got here in the first place?) and off to my little corner of literary heaven we went.

Strange as it may seem, I'd forgotten that the book was being released on Tuesday. Chalk it up to parenting two toddlers and holding down a call I dearly love, I guess. Most of these days I think Gandalf's description of Barliman Butterbur sums it up pretty well: "His mind is like a lumberyard - thing wanted always buried." Anyway, my general practice when a new King is being released is to pick it up the day it is released and drop everything else I'm reading until I've finished the new King. So, off I went over the past five days, devouring this book like a free pizza in danger of going cold.

On the whole, I enjoyed the book, but the only way Under the Dome resembles It or The Stand is in length. A few characters, most notably the main male protagonists, seem believable, but I think, unfortunately, that years of being the most famous writer on the planet have left Stephen King out of touch with the common folks about whom he's trying so hard to write well. The main villain is, frankly, annoying - a small-town tin-pot dictator, to be sure, but for some reason King throws on this annoying half-desire to be righteous that you're never sure is for real or not. The most egregious example of this is how the man displays an infantile use of homonyms to stand in for profanity. Let's just say that hearing about "Brenda, that lousy rhymes-with-witch" gets really old really fast. The only thing that makes it tolerable is that the man gets a few moments of really evil behavior, including one of the best 'last words' I've ever read. It's too bad some annoying, unexplainable personal tics distract the reader from a truly evil villain.

The conclusion, however, is one of King's best. If you can resist the urge to read the last page first (and I suggest most strongly you should, cheaters), you'll find yourself gobbling up story with heartbreak and breathless anticipation by the end. Thankfully, after 900 pages I felt that the last 100 were definitely worth the trip.

Well, that's the report. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to go kill some brain cells watching the idiot box while I fold the laundry.

Grace & peace,

1 comment:

  1. I need to get this one sometime, but have tons of books to read. I used up last of my coned $$ on books, my cousin has released his first book and I tend to pick up books at Thrift stores and yard sales of all kinds. I am also a library fan. In short, I love books, but can never read all I have now