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King Goes Too Far ... Again.
on May 14, 2008
Up until about 5 years ago, I read everything that Stephen King wrote. I was a fanatic about his early work. However, it seems that about ten years ago, King went beyond horror and beyond supernatural and into the realm of just plain silly. This work is almost a microcosm of this transformation.
In works like The Shining, Misery, Dolores Claiborne, Gerald's Game and Cujo, King demonstrated an ability to be absolutely horrifying without resort to actual corporeal monsters, aliens or supernatural beings. Some of his short stories, such as The Long Walk (written as Richard Bachman) were magnificent looks into human psyche. Even books such as Carrie, Salem's Lot and his masterpiece The Stand included supernatural features without "jumping the shark".
It is my observation, however, that virtually all of his most recent work has devolved into the realm of just plain silly. The Gunslinger serial is a perfect example.
The first half of this novel is vintage, old school King. Entering the mind and life of a successful building contractor whose life has been turned upside down by a tragic workplace injury. The writing is outstanding. The story moves along well and the suspense builds. About two-thirds of the way through the book, we go from minor instances of supernatural occurence to the now standard, present day King formula of absurd, corporeal beings that can only be termed as laughable. "Big boy, frog beings with TEEFES". Please.
If you like the Gunslinger series, or some of King's most recent work, this will be right up your alley. If you prefer the earlier King, you will be pleasantly surprised by the first two-thirds of the book, only to be dumped into "Gunslinger" mode for the last 150 pages. King is one of the few writers that doesn't need monsters to be absolutely horrifying. Someone needs to tell him that.