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From a Buick 8 Hardcover – September 24, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (September 24, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743211375
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743211376
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 5.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (434 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Stephen King, an evil car, and a teenage boy coming to terms with the fragility and randomness of life.... Wait, haven't we read this before? Diehard King fans, worry not. Aside from the titular car playing a main role in the story, From a Buick 8 could not be less like King's 1983 masterpiece, Christine. If anything, this story resembles King's serial novel The Green Mile, with reminiscing police characters flashing back on bizarre events that took place decades earlier.

The book's intriguing plot revolves around the troopers of Pennsylvania State Patrol Troop D, who come into possession of what at first appears to be a vintage automobile. Closer inspection and experimentation conducted by the troopers reveal that this car's doors (and trunk) sometimes open to another dimension populated by gross-out creatures straight out of ... well, a Stephen King novel. As the plot progresses, the veteran troopers' tales of these visits from interdimensional nasties, and the occasional "lightquakes" put on by the car, are passed on to the son of a fallen comrade whose fascination with the car bordered on dangerous obsession.

Unlike earlier King works, there is no active threat here; no monster is stalking the heroes of the story, unless you count the characters' own curiosity. In past books, King has terrorized readers with vampires, werewolves, a killer clown, ghosts, and aliens, but this time around, the bogeyman is a more passive, cerebral threat, and one for which they don't make a ready-to-wear Halloween costume--man's fascination with and fear of the unknown. While some readers may find this tale less exciting than the horror master's earlier works, From a Buick 8 is a wonderful example of how much King's plotting skills and literary finesse have matured over his long career. And, most of all, it's a darn creepy book. --Benjamin Reese

From Publishers Weekly

King, we learn in an author's note, hashed out the plot of this gripper while driving from western Pennsylvania to New York. The first draft took two months to write. That's quick work, and it's reflected in the book's simplicity of plot and theme; unlike King's chewy last novel, Dreamcatcher, this one goes down like a shot of moonshine, hot and clean, much like Cujo, say, or Gerald's Game. In 1979, an odd man drives what at first glance looks like a 1954 mint-quality Buick Roadmaster up to a service station in rural Pennsylvania, then vanishes, leaving behind the car. The state police of Troop D deposit the vehicle in a shed near their barracks, where, up to the present, it remains a secret from all but cop colleagues for the car isn't exactly a car; it may be alive, and it certainly serves as a doorway between our world and... what? Another dimension? Another galaxy? The troopers never find out, despite their amateurish scientific investigations of it and of the weird beings that occasionally emerge from the vehicle's trunk: freaky fish, creepy flowers and more. Moreover, the "car" is dangerous: the day it appears, a state trooper disappears, and experiments over the years with cockroaches, etc., indicate that just as the car can spew things out, it will ingest them. While the book's relative brevity and simplicity does lend comparison to earlier King, and King has relied on a nasty car before (Christine), the author's stylistic maturity manifests in his sophisticated handling of the round robin of narrators (both first and third-person), the sharp portrayal of police ways and mores and the novel's compelling subthemes (loyalty, generational bondings) and primary theme: that life is filled with Buick 8s, phenomena that blindside us and that we can never understand. This novel isn't major King, but it's nearly flawless and one terrific entertainment.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on July 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I worked in a large office for an extended period during my somewhat checkered employment career. I don't think I had been there but three weeks when a gentleman suddenly took ill and retired on sick leave. He died a few months later of brain cancer. Another man inherited his desk. He, too, was dead within a year from a tumor in his brain. A third gent was given the desk, and within six months, he also was gone, for the same reason. A number of us attended his funeral, and when we returned to the office, four of us, by agreement common and unspoken, took the desk and unceremoniously shoved it into a storage room where it may still remain. I have been convinced since that time that there are some objects in this world that for whatever reason are salted with a wrongness. Maybe it's a storefront where a business can never successfully take hold, or a piece of jewelry that seems to herald domestic problems, or something else. It's as if they're not meant to be here. But they are.

One of these objects is the basis for Stephen King's new novel, FROM A BUICK 8. There have been some nattering nabobs of negativism who were deriding this book as "Christine II" before it ever came out. Nope, this Buick, unlike Christine, does not sell its soul to rock 'n' roll. Sure, you can't read this bad boy without hearing Bob Dylan's "From A Buick 6" floating in the background --- it even makes an appearance in the story. But the vehicle in this book isn't haunted. No. It's worse.

This Buick 8 pulls up to some gas pumps at a full-serve gas station in Western Pennsylvania in 1979. While the pump jockey is gassing her up, the driver walks around to the back of the station and...disappears.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By W. Doug Bolden on December 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have generally heard bad reviews of this book, so I was little worried about picking it up. But I did, and decided to read it the other night whether than put it off. Now, there are many things to say about it:
For starters, this is NOT Christine 2. This is not a sequel to the story. This is not a retelling. There are similarities, but the focus of this story is nothing like Christine.
Secondly, this story is rarely in the details. Often, the details are the weak spot. It is when King gets nervous and decides to go back and fill in a few of the blanks that the narrative decreases.
Thirdly, this book has a lot more personal philosophy to impart rather than horror. This is about growing old. This is about mysteries in life. This is about sticking to duty. This is about the chains that we can feel but rarely know.
Finally (for now), what horror IS in this book tends to be strictly the real life stuff: a cop hitting an old woman, a suicide, genitalia ripped off by the force of impact, young children decapitated, abusive relationships, the way that people think you are nuts when you are telling the truth. That sort of thing. The real life horror of the PSP is felt more than the Dunsanian/Lovecraftian terror of the Buick...which tends to be more a catalyst to facing lifes greatest, most beautiful, and extremely disturbing mysteries.
As for the quality of the book: Stephen King's writing has matured quite a bit and he seems to be ready to impart more of himself in the telling. But, on the flipside, like any older person...the maturity they have gained has drawbacks. For one, some aspects seem more tired. There seems to be more repetition. You know all the old tricks, they will not suprise you no matter how much you want them to. The voice telling is more captivating.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Wilson on September 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If this really is King's last real novel (the forthcoming Dark Tower books don't quite count), then he's going out with style and grace. "From A Buick 8" is a wonderfully gripping read, full of the creepy crawlies, but mostly it's a moving, melancholy meditation on time and loss, more "Green Mile" than "Christine". His command of character and flow are wondrous at times. You believe in these people; you can see them, you know them. I've always thought that was his great gift and the real secret to his popularity--his people live in the same world we do. In them, we recognize ourselves (and our landscapes), and somehow that provides solace, as if we're finally being seen and understood. (It's similar to what Springsteen does.) The scary stuff was always secondary. Anyway, this one's awfully fine. It kept me up nights--and there's really nothing better in the world than a book that keeps you up nights. (It's like having a secret power source, and is almost as rare.) There are more subtle writers in the world, but there's not another who's given me more pure pleasure. I always feel wide awake when I'm reading Stephen King, as if I'm reading with my whole self. Being one of his Constant Readers has been one of the best relationships of my life. We sort of grew up together. I think he really means it about not publishing anything else, and that's a loss destined to be as resonant for me as the ones he details so beautifully in this last, best book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sir George Martini on October 3, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Where did this weird replica of a Buick come from? Was the portal made by the same characters in "Hearts of Atlantis"? If it was, why didn't they have a problem breathing our atmosphere? Will King eventually tie it all together like he did with the entire "The Gunslinger" series? The whole point of the book is, sometimes you have to accept the fact that you aren't going to find an answer.
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