2019-08-26 07:42:42

I have a few issues with Gerald's Game, but most of what you disliked, Dark, I didn't mind.

For instance, I think it's too long and draggy in some places. It was a novella that King pumped up a little too much. This would do better if it was about 140 pages shorter. Lean, mean and scary as hell if done right and if the throttle is held down a little more, especially at the end. Like you, I think the post-escape part is really quite slow. Too slow, really.

But where I stop agreeing with you is in the targeting of men, and in the truth about Joubert.

So, men being awful and all that. Jessie dealt with arguably the single most important male figure in her life first molesting her, then emotionally blackmailing her into never, ever telling. We know the shit that caused her. So she ended up married to a man of considerable wealth, a lawyer who generally never grew up and was rather childish. This man then very nearly raped her before she fought back, kicked him in the gut, and inadvertently brought on the heart attack that bumped him off. Gerald did not deserve to die, but when you have someone in handcuffs and they tell you to let them go, you do it. You don't play games. You do it. This is why safe words exist for good reason, BTW. Anyway, I think you can understand how this worked out. The two most important men in Jessie's life have made her pretty understandably gun-shy. She doesn't actually believe every man out there is awful, not all the way down, but it's going to take her some time before she can get past what she's come through. To expect her to even hear the "not all men" rhetoric after her ordeal is just foolish, and to -use that rhetoric on her is borderline heartless. Because no, not all men are that way; in fact, most would be appalled by that level of behaviour. But the issue is that if that's your experience, ore most of it, then it's all you have, and you can't just be told that "well these other men will be different". I didn't see this as ham-fisted by King, I saw it as spot-on for survivors of male-perpetrated violence against women.

And now, Joubert. Okay, he went a -little bit far with this one. But the fact that there was a random necrophiliac who liked stealing bones and jewelry, I thought, was actually creepy as hell. King could've left it ambiguous, but I think the reason it was brought in at the end this way is because Jessie really needed to be able to put it to bed. Now she knows it was a man, not a figment of her imagination. A terribly disturbed, perhaps mentally unstable man. And hey, guess what? They're out there, folks. Women too. All genders, they're out there. So this was a little convenient, but not horribly outlandish. If it'd just been left as Jessie never knowing what she saw, it's arguably scarier but also far more bleak, as she'll never really get closure that way. I think King was, in his way, actually trying to bring the story to closure of a sort, the way Dolores got.

Speaking of, Dolores Claiborne and Gerald's Game were once halves of a bigger novel called In the Path of the Eclipse. You can see little pieces of them still tied to each other, but I think King got a bit spooked by what that would entail, and took them apart. Dolores worked very well, in my opinion; Gerald's Game was good, but not great, mostly owing to its wooliness and penchant for protracted rambling. Totally squicked out when I first read the escape though; I hope I'm never, ever called upon to do that to myself.

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2019-08-26 18:24:18

I think  Jayde a lot of my issues with Gerald's game came from the epilogue, since had the book finished not long after Jessie's escape I  certainly would've just taken Jessie's comments in character and understandably a product of her history and circumstances,
but it was the fact that the closest thing the book has to a nice male character is still condescending and dismissive of women generally, and Jessie in particular  that seemed a bit much. Then again maybe this is an accurate portrait of rich lawyers from main, I'm honestly not sure, still again that was another reason for me the book went on a bit too long and why I preferd Rose Madder in terms of King's dealing with themes of violence against women.

With Joubert. I'd have been quite happy were he just a mystery, indeed the explanation King had was just a bit too far, apart from being quite stat and rather hachnied, if not literally stereotyped, what with him being weird looking so he's eeeeevil! and homosexual so he's eeeeevil! and a man who was sexually abused as a child so he's eeeeevil!

Again, King was just shooting for the lowest possible targets here, apart from the fact the explanation seemed to take far longer than Joubert was actually in the book. Indeed, I sort of wonder if Joubert was a left over horror idea, since honestly his first appearence wouldn't have been out of place in midworld, then King suddenly realised that the book wasn't going to be a sueprnatural one and had to suddenly fudge an explanation.

anyway. For a lot of the epilogue I was just wanting things to wrap up so we could get the idea that Jessie was, if not actually alright, at least in a better place and on the road to recovery. We got there in the end, and I really liked the idea of Jessie reconnecting with Ruth in an effort to stop the nightmares , but it just felt waaaaay too long in coming, like when you finish on the roller coaster and  are just waiting to get off.

Ironically, even though misery is one of my least favourite King novels, this is one area where I thought it scored better than Gerald's game, since once we've had the climax with Anny, we see the mess Paul is left in, but at the last we get a bit of a ray of hope with him starting writing.

I've not read Dolores Claimborn, and I'll probably get to it at some point, though I suspect its going to be needful things next as that's another my lady would like to do, though I might have another go at one of King's short story collections as generally I've really enjoyed them,and I tend to like to read short story collections between needing to review books.

Actually just after Sunset has been mentioned in this topic by several people, and so possibly that's the King collection I'll do next, though I'm also tempted to try four past midnight.

I got the book years ago, read the langoleers, which had a premise I really liked and was interesting after watching the miniseries, albeit Dyna seemed to be a pretty blatant example of both the helpless and mystical blind person moulds (my lady really gets annoyed at Dyna), however just as I started the second story, the disk broke and the RNIB never sent me another copy, so I haven't read the other three stories in the collection.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-08-26 22:01:07

Well, the man who's trying to help Jessie in the epilogue isn't too bad. Do remember this is like 1992, so they're still like twenty-odd years behind the overall curve. Brandon is not a terrible man by any stretch, he's just protective and sort of shocked. I think this is fine. I don't think we need a sympathetic male character, a "good guy" just to balance the fact that several of the men in this story are real pieces of work.

I also am pretty sure King never intended for Joubert's physical appearance or apparent homosexuality to imply that he was evil. His physical appearance is just meant to make him look ghoulish, and his homosexuality was just another point about him. I'd have to reread the epilogue to be sure, but I'm pretty sure King does not tie these things together. I tell you what though; when Jessie's in court and watching Joubert, and he leaps up and shrieks, "You're not real! You're only made of moonlight!", I got legit chills. That note, for me at least, was hit pretty much right on key. I do think the epilogue was too slow, mind you. Nice idea, but too slow.

Just After Sunset is, in my opinion, better than Four Past Midnight. There are some duds in that collection, but not many. Dolores Claiborn, if you read it via audio, is narrated by Frances Sternhagen, and so long as you can get past her voice (which some will find annoying) she's freaking amazing. The book itself drags a few times, but is ultimately quite good.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
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2019-08-27 11:07:18

My all time favourite King book is the dead zone, and the narrator makes it for me. I'm generally not a fan of many female narrators, especially American ones as many seem to be trying to make their voices unnaturally high-pitched (so kate reading and whoever is the narrator of the dead zone are good, whoever reads Impyrium is not.)

The book is just very...slick.

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2019-08-27 15:42:27 (edited by Dark 2019-08-27 15:42:57)

I agree on Joubert's final speech to Jessie being awesome moment, I just wish we'd got to it sooner and King had had a less trite explanation, since it just felt to me as if Joubert was a collection of cliches and borderline stereotypes, and we know King can do better, this is why as I said I'd have almost preferred him to be unexplained, still so it goes.

I am rather tempted with four past midnight next off, what with me leaving it half finished for all these years, but we'll see.

@je97, the deadzone was one I just could not get into. I personally don't have a narrator voice preference as long as its a human, and  they can do some acting all the better, but for some reason I just couldn't get into the dead zone. I tried once in braille, and then again in audio, and honestly wound up giving up part way through since it just felt aimless, definitely one of those books that gives credence to the theory that King's books ramble too much I thought.

it did strike me the deadzone was a very heavily period based book, so maybe there are just nuances of American history and mid sixties American culture I'm missing, or maybe I just need to try again and persevere a bit to get to the interesting partts.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-08-27 19:54:47

Well that's part of your problem. lol It would be mid-70s culture, not mid-60s. I didn't find that the book rambled too much. It just develops slowly and has a dryness to it, sort of like Salem's Lot, that bugs some people, self included. It's actually not particularly padded or verbose for the most part. Its language just isn't all that spot on for what it's trying to do.

I'm pretty sure the narrator of that book is Lorelei King, and I never got into her reading; she sounds really boring. By contrast, the NLS version is read by Diane Ailenberg or some such, and she's pretty good, albeit not great.

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2019-08-27 21:42:11 (edited by Dark 2019-08-27 21:42:47)

I don't remember Salem's lot feeling particularly dry when I read it, or indeed ploddy the way the Dead zone felt. People seem to have something of a hate for Salem's lot but I actually enjoyed it. I remember when I first read it as a teenager, I mentioned to my dad that I was going to read it but it'd probably take a long while to get good, and he told me Salem's lot was the one exception where  King picks things up fairly quickly, and that was what I  found.

I do remember Susan felt a bit generic, though what he did with her plot took me genuinely by surprise, and I loved seeing Father calahan getting redemption in the dark tower.

Then again, I first read Dracula when I was fairly young, about ten or eleven I think, so it was interesting enough for me to just see what King would do with vampires in a modern setting, ---- of course this was back in the nineties before Twilight and the point that everyone got seriously fanged off with vampires big_smile.

I have reread it since then, though possibly the last time was a good ten or twelve years ago, so I might be a little hazy on the details since then.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-08-27 21:51:45 (edited by targor 2019-08-27 21:52:40)

Speaking of the dark tower, how do you feel about King including himself as an almost godlike character (or maybe the herald of a godlike force) in the later dark tower books? I liked the idea, because it opened up the possibility of using characters from his other books like Father Calahan, but not every reader liked that.

We are pleased, that you made it through the final challenge, where we pretended we were going to murder you. We are throwing a party in honor of your tremendous success. Place the device on the ground, then lay on your stomach with your arms at your sides. A party associate will arrive shortly to collect you for your party. Assume the party submission position or you will miss the party.

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2019-08-27 22:01:04

I'm...very mixed on it, personally.
On the one hand, King presents his avatar as extremely flawed, a conduit rather than a god. He isn't doing what he's supposed to be doing, and so the ka-tet nearly comes to ruin over it. In the end, an enormous price must be paid so that King's avatar does not die before the story can be written.
On the other hand, this sort of metareferencing is something I've never much cared for, regardless of who's doing it. It's just not my cup of tea, and it never has been.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
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2019-08-27 22:18:12

I don't mind metafiction myself and have seen several good examples, and I really liked linking King's cosmology and seeing characters  like father Calahan again.

My only major problem in the Dark tower with King sticking himself in there, was the way he made himself so important to the cosmology of the world. True, he shows himself in a not entirely flattering light, but the fact that basically its implied all of reality depends upon Stephen King's wellbeing, ----- plus, cute phrase though it was, Rowland's "Hyo Word slinger" was going a little too far in self congratulation I thought.

Had King just made himself some old scribe sat on the sidelines who was  taking inspiration from elsewhere or writing events he somehow knew from another source I wouldn't have minded.
then again,  I'm much more kindly disposed to King's metafiction after reading John Scalzi's redshirts which is probably the worst example I've ever encountered and a truly abysmal book, find my less than complementary review here

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-08-29 23:15:02

Well I liked having king slip himself into the series, but what bothers me is that the whole quest for the tower is endangered just because king refuses to finish the series. I do believe the price that has to be paid to keep king alive was asking far too much. I do appreciate that in the end king faces up to his responsibilities, or at least that is implied in the story.
I know this will sound silly to a lot of you, but I'm not a fan of the dark tower series anymore because of how it ended. I loved the series the whole time I was reading it, but when I got to the end, I read through the coda, and it broke my heart. If I had it to do over again, I would turn back before I read what I read. To me the whole second half of the final book was a major disappointment, I remember expecting a big triumphant conclusion, instead it was sad and short. In the end it seemed to me that roland used his friends as a means to an end. I think that's what I hated the most! The series up until the seventh book was great. So many good ideas, humor, questing, magic and guns, but it all ends in nothing. I never expected a completely happy ending, but I did expect king to have something rewarding at the end of the story.
His other books are better, I don't have to worry about another series like that. Or at least that's what I'm hoping.

What has been created in the laws of nature holds true in the laws of magic as well. Where there is light, there is darkness,  and where there is life, there is also death.
Aerodyne: first of the wizard order

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2019-08-30 04:09:49

Okay...so this thread is full of spoilers, but the Dark Tower is infamous, so proceed beyond this point at your own risk.

Seriously. If you don't want spoilage, stop right here.

Okay, still here? Then here we go.

The nature of an author is that they are god to their characters, in the sense that a world they create depends on the author to give it flesh. I do think King went up his own butt a little bit with this, since people were chewing on him for the massive slowdown in Dark Tower novels, but this didn't come out of nowhere. He's been dropping hints of this since book 4, when it was made very, very clear that there were many, many different Earths, much less different other worlds than these. In Wolves of the Calla, Eddie realizes something is rotten in Denmark when he picks up on all the references to his own world in Midworld (think sneeches, just for one example, although Eddie didn't get that one). King also plays the deus ex machina a little heavily near the end of the book, with Dandelo in particular I mean, and to my mind at least, gets a little too up close and personal with "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came", the narrative poem by Robert Browning cited throughout as a major inspiration for the whole series. It is not egotism to suggest that Roland's quest depends on Mr. King staying alive in order to succeed; it's fact. For whatever reason, Gan (the force that sort of runs all, in this universe) decided that King would be its voice, and if that voice is silenced, then hail Discordia.
I also feel "hile wordslinger" was sort of Roland trying to be snide or funny, in the way he sometimes does. After all, wordslinger doesn't have nearly the same ring as gunslinger. He didn't call King a wordsmith, after all, and King has never claimed, either in this series nor anywhere else, that he's a literary genius of any kind. He just does what he loves, but with this series he got lazy, and metareferenced it.

Now, to speak of the way the series ends:
first Eddie dies, and I saw that coming a mile off. It hurt though.
Then Jake dies, and I ugly-cried when that happened when I read it the first time. Again, knew it would happen, but it was still awful. And the awful nature of it is that if King had been doing his job, it would never have had to occur. The way it sort of scooped roland hollow hurts my heart even now.
Then Susannah, Roland and Oy sorta toughed it out awhile, but you could tell there was no real ka-tet left. It was just three people sharing a road and trying to stay alive. Oh, the history wasn't gone, but all the fun and fire had gone out of it for all of them. Susannah's heart went with Eddie, and to a lesser extent Jake, and her dreams, haunting her pretty much from the moment of Eddie's death, are pulling her toward another idealized world she wants to go to. And Roland's been doing this so long that he can't quit now. All the blood and the miles and the death behind him? No way to turn back. What's there besides emptiness for him anyway?
So then Susannah finds her way through, and off she goes, with Patrick's help. She throws away the gun, she gives everything up.
Then it's just Roland and Oy, and eventually Oy is what stands between Roland being assassinated by silly Mordred (he's the character I liked least; the only good thing he did was off Walter, and even then, I hated the way this was done). Anyway, Oy dies, but it gives Roland enough time to do what needs done.
So Roland and Patrick are left alone, and ultimately Roland finds the tower and conquers it. And he gets spun back.
Or not. Ka like a wheel. He's been dropping hints before. This wasn't Rolan's first go-round. But he's got the horn this time. Maybe it'll be better this time. Maybe he can make good cohices.

A lot of fiction, when you get to the final hard stretch, you know that the guys you're rooting for are going to win. You might lose a few, you might not get everything you want, but you're very likely going to win. King took that trope and stood it on its head. Yes, Roland gains the Tower, but should he have done so? Does the Tower actually represent something one should want and strive for, given how much it seems to cost? There are a lot of potentially profound messages in this story, and flawed though it inevitably must be, I think this note was hit very well. If you came out of this series with a happy ending, that to me would be a cheat. If I was writing it, I'd want you to feel bleak when you read that coda. I'd want you to ask "what's it all for?", because it would get you thinking.
Just as I hope this analysis has, for that matter.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2019-08-30 09:54:52

I found the ending very fitting to the series. Not happy, of course, but that, as Jayde said, would not fit anyway. And it's funny how, after the epilogue with the other Eddie, King writes that for a kinda good ending, the readers should stop now. As if anyone would stop then, but the idea counts smile

We are pleased, that you made it through the final challenge, where we pretended we were going to murder you. We are throwing a party in honor of your tremendous success. Place the device on the ground, then lay on your stomach with your arms at your sides. A party associate will arrive shortly to collect you for your party. Assume the party submission position or you will miss the party.

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2019-08-30 18:37:12

It should also be pointed out that roland doing what he did was not new. He's been using his friends as a means to an end since he was young. He's learned better, but can't always do better. In the end, the Tower conquers all for him. Maybe in some future iteration, he learns how to turn aside, or how to get to where he's going a different way.
I actually really liked how grim the last half of book 7 was, mostly because we get to lose characters instead of gaining them. It's a nice thought to think that Eddie, Susannah, Jake and even Oy are out there somewhere in their own universe, maybe not quite as we knew them, but living a life without Roland and a life where they can be their own sort of ka-tet.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2019-08-30 18:58:34 (edited by Dark 2019-08-30 18:59:33)

Okay, I'll also say beware dark tower spoilage here.

My personal problems with the series didn't so much relate to ow it ended, or who was lost, so much as to how certain other characters were treated along the way and King's final coda.

Rowland needed to gain the tower and the Crimson King being a great bunhug was certainly fitting enough, also, while I did not like Jake and Eddy's deaths, I could understand them, Rowland has always made it clear from the first book onward  he's given up everything for the tower, and would be willing to do so again. The heart breaking scene is that in the  wastelands, in which a grief stricken Jake is pulled through the door, reunited with Rowland and begs him to not let him fall again, and even as he comfort's Jake, Rowland knows the promise he gives is a lie, since heck yes, he would let Jake fall again if it meant gaining the tower.

This is the contrast between Roland and Susana, since Susana realises in the end that their katette itself and what they've gained together is more valuable than the tower.

My lady described this as a fairy tale ending of the kind King doesn't usually write, but then remarked she didnt' mind in the least, and neither did I since the ending was definitvely a deserved reward for all of them.

I admit I'm in two minds about the coda, since while on the one hand I could understand what Rowland finds in the tower and the implication that he's stuck on the wheel, at the same time I'm not really sure if King actually should have written the coda itself.
Yes, King remarks that nothing he could've written could've been like our imagining of the dark tower, and that's true, but in a way I would rather King had left matters at that, rather the way, much as I love the time war audios, that Doctor who had never shown us the time war, much less retconned the hole thing, since a war that is so all encompassing it is fought through time itself and warps the entirety of reality is, like the dark tower, a concept which should really just be left unexplained, and inexplicable.

There is after all a perfectly good literary reason why the title character neve appears in Lord of the rings.

Oh, King did write a warning that those who prefer to imagine the tower should stop without reading on, but honestly I don't think I know anyone who did.

So while I do understand the ending, I found it disappointing, but then again was probably always doomed to, unless King had indeed just stopped with Rowland entering the dark tower, as he probably should've done, much as it would possibly still piss off another portion of the fan base.

My  really major problems with the Dark tower's last few books involved the way Mordred, the man in black and Susana were handled.

First, in the original Gunslinger, and in Wizard and glass, it is made pretty clear that  Walter, the man in black is definitely not! Flag, aka Martin Broadcloak, aka the ageless stranger.

yet, suddenly they become the same person? This really disappointed me, I remember at thirteen reading the description of Rowland's vision in the Gunslinger, and thinking "Wow, this ageless stranger sounds bloody evil, and as for this beast?"

And yet suddenly there is no order of evil, just Flag and his boss, with the beast being retconed out of existance in a new retelling of the gunslinger (which I haven't read yet). Frankly that! disappoints me almost as much as the ending, since mystery is one thing, but retconning because you can't be bothered to plot enemies you promised is just plane lazy.

Second, Susana. In The drawing of the three and the wastelands we see Susana conquer her alternate personalities, come together and become down right awesome. Then suddenly bing! she's got another one! really this was a severely unfair use of the character, simply repeating yet another plot.

what is worse, is that King went with the most obvious plot for his female character and had Susana's story suddenly revolve around pregnancy, when there was so much more to her than simply the fact that she's female. Again, this just plane struck me as lazy, going with the most obvious plotline, and an unfair use of a character who had so much to her, her learning to shoot, her activism, whether Detta walker's immorality had left scars, than merely the fact that she happened to have a uterus.

And the result of this pregnancy is some frankenstein mess of a character who proves to be the dampest of damp squibs, and also rubs King's most iconic villain  off the map in an effectively off screen scene that has nothing to do with the protagonists!

Again, I appreciate that King's idea was to show that evil consumes itself, but honestly one can take bumhuggery a bit too far.

of course, also bare in mind, that while I have read the first four dark tower books several times each over the years, starting with the Gunslinger when I was thirteen, I've only read the last three books once in 2008, (I had to get them from the states since the RNIB didn't have them at that point). I was not exactly with it at that point, indeed some events in the books I only remembered when checking the synopses recently whilst browsing the Stephen King wiki.

I do intend to do a reread of the hole series at some point, and maybe then I'll  feel differently about where things ended up, we'll see.

Oh and btw in other news, I have now put just after sunset and four past midnight onto my Victor.
My lady agrees with Jayde and others here that sunset is probably the better collection over all, so when it next comes time for me to read some short stories, I'll likely be tossing a coin to let ka decide big_smile.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-08-31 09:17:53

I've just now red all the dark tower books, so I started with the reworked version of gunslinger and didn't have those problems. Another advantage of reading them now is that I could insert the new eight dark tower book between book four and five, as is chronologically correct.

We are pleased, that you made it through the final challenge, where we pretended we were going to murder you. We are throwing a party in honor of your tremendous success. Place the device on the ground, then lay on your stomach with your arms at your sides. A party associate will arrive shortly to collect you for your party. Assume the party submission position or you will miss the party.

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2019-08-31 14:13:11

King has stated at different points that at first, Marten/Walter were meant to be very different characters, but that he got confused and, given the message he was going for and the similarity of the characters to one another overall, he decided to squish them together. If you read the first Gunslinger, then yeah, it's going to jar like hell, but I personally think it was smart of him to update the Gunslinger the way he did. Writers do this sometimes. If you read the newer Gunslinger, you'll even see tiny foreshadowings (the kan-toi, for instance, and the Taheen, which I quite liked). It's made a bit clearer how stuff actually works, and the ending actually makes more sense (the ending of the series, not the book, although the book's ending is clarified a bit too).

Okay...Susannah. *deep breath* I agree with you on part of it - I'm a big fan of how she evicted Detta/Odetta and became her own person - but if you'll remember what ended up happening to her. She did not just develop a new personality. She literally became infested by a demon, an elemental if you will, with a female aspect (or one that can shift aspects). It's a lot of hoo-ha, honestly, but the upshot is that this elemental (explained in book 6) realized after eons untold of not being able to experience anything that it wanted a child of some kind, and it made a sort of Faustian bargain with the Crimson King, said it would do anything to have a child. So what happened? Essentially, through some really wonky fantasy logic, Roland has sex with an oracle demon in the first book, and that demon somehow impregnates Susannah in book 3. It then essentially rides quietly for a couple of books before making its play. Yes, pregnancy is a bit of a tired trope, and I think King could've done better, but if you think about it, you can see it as Roland snaring Susannah, all unknowing, all over again; were it not for him, this doesn't happen and no one is at risk. But his choices led to this, put her in that position, so it's in many ways Roland's own damn fault. This guy does a lot of monstrous stuff when you get right down to it.
But Mia is a real creature, of sorts, so I'm okay with that part of it. Actually made me sympathize a little, even.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2019-08-31 22:46:57

What bothered me so much in book 7 was that if roland had turned back after saving the beams, as the three of the crimson king's men had suggested, things might have turned out better. They do say that the beams will multiply, gilead will return, and if roland had left it at that things might have turned out okay.
I remember reading the gunslinger, the ageless stranger and the beast were mentioned at the end, I was excited to read more and learn more about them. In the afterword of the original, king says that if roland makes it to the tower, he may meet martin there and finally get his revenge. Of course we know this doesn't happen, and the fact that king makes martin and walter one, bothers me a lot. I'd like to think martin was on a whole other level than walter. It's odd, but although king gets rid of the idea of the beast, in the waste lands, there is a scene where eddie is dreaming of being at the tower, and as he is standing in the roses, something monstrous comes down from the sky. Probably the beast, which would have been better than what it turned out to be.

What has been created in the laws of nature holds true in the laws of magic as well. Where there is light, there is darkness,  and where there is life, there is also death.
Aerodyne: first of the wizard order

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2019-09-01 13:08:51

I Agree with guitarman here. Maybe if I started with the reworked gunslinger, but as it stands there is just too much that was promised which never appears, oh and yeah, I wondered if that was the beast too, in particular  I always got the idea Walter was semi disposable, which is why on the night he shows Rowland the vision in the gunslinger, he sort of dies, and of course the jawbone becomes important in the wastelands, Walter's essential function was as the tempter, tempting Rowland onward on his journey, indeed I wondered if eventually Rowland would turn out to be part of the Crimson king's plan in some way himself, particularly with  how he's quite willing to sacrifice Jake along the way.

Again, its entirely possible that my irritation with the retcon here is due to how young I was when I first read the book, since I read the gunslinger when I was 13, drawing of the three and the wastelands when I was around  15 or 16, and Wizard and glass when
was about 19 or 20. I therefore must have reread the Gunslinger a good four or five times over, I remember being so amazed when we got answers , like who Cuthbert, Alain and Susan Delgardo were.

Combine this with all of the Dark tower references King has in his other books, and I was  pretty jazzed about the lore of the world. Then for King to go "woopse! sorry changed my mind" was nothing short of an anticlimax.

I did get who and what Mia was, that she was the demon Rowland meets in The Gunslinger who Susana ( largely channelling Detta walker), then has sex with in the wastelands during Jake's drawing. The problem though is that the actual manifestation of this plot was basically just again Susana losing her mind and going off alone, plus Mia herself had little personality beyond the desire to have a child.

Oh, King wrote the plot in a really ghoulish and typical King way, (the sequence after Mordred's birth when he kills Mia is wonderfully nasty), but I just wish Susana had had more to do than replay the plot of Rosemary's baby, since there was much more to her than that, especially given that Mordred himself was just plane disappointing.

Fortunately, my lady just reminded me she does do for the danddilo so she does still have a bit to do after giving birth, yet it always did seem a  unfair that the title character in song of Susana spends most of her time being compelled into giving birth.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-09-05 01:36:00 (edited by Dark 2019-09-05 01:38:46)

Okay, well given the interest in this topic and me obviously being in something of a King mood, I started Just after sunset.
I've read the first two stories so far and as has become my custom here I'll add some thoughts on each one, so beware spoiling spoilers of spoileriness beyond this point!

Willa: Okay this was a rather cute premise which slightly missed the mark for me, though in fairness to King I suspect that's more a cultural matter. I gathered something was up with the people waiting in the station, and I did indeed wonder if they were dead, so nice to prove I'm write, also a great job by King on painting the people as the most annoying bunch of pasengers to get stuck with (I particularly liked how spot on he was with the cranky five year old),

I also liked that Willa was neither entirely likable nor completely irritating, and that David recognised her faults, her spiky and occasionally selfish personality just as he still loved her.

the problems came for me firstly in that the story felt a little long, since after we found out the people were all dead, matters seemed to drag a little. Then, while I liked the idea of Willa and David going back to try and get the rest of the people unstuck and them refusing, it didn't feel entirely right that Willa and David were themselves still stuck in the honkitonk bar anyway. I rather thought King should at least have implied that by moving out of the station and stopping waiting for the train, Willa and David might get the chance to move on, rather than just be stuck in the bar forever, which would also imply that the other passengers might get the chance to move on eventually as well (while she was annoying I thought it was a bit rough on the little girl, especially when her mother slapped her and physically dragged her off).

Then again its entirely possible this is simply a cultural thing. I'm not entirely sure what "honkitonk" actually means, and having no especial liking for rock or country music, and an active dislike of places that are too noisy and crowded to converse, the idea of being stuck in a bar for all eternity sounds a bit like hell to me, whereas Willa, David and King obviously felt differently.

Again, I might have been able to accept if there was some possibility that they might pass over in the future, as occurred with the trucker at the truck stop in James tiptree Junior's;  aka Alice Sheldon's, story, her smoke rose up forever, indeed I wonder if King read that story as there are some striking similarities in plot, if not quite in style, though ironically for a writer known for zir grim take on things, tiptree's story ends surprisingly well.

So all in all, Willa wasn't a  bad story, not a favourite, though how much of this was just King's preferences over mine for an afterlife I don't know.

the gingerbread girl: Okay this one was a lot of fun,  particularly the onrunning battle with the psychopath. Indeed, it  interesting reading this one so soon after Gerald's game and noting a few of the same feelings, even some similar turns of description around physical cramps, muscle pain etc, indeed only Stephen King could make the act of pulling yourself off a chair you'd been duct taped to quite as agonising, or as riveting.

I genuinely loved the run up the beach and the way the psycho got his just deserts, though I felt rather sorry for the nice Mexican chap, still deaths of innocents are par for the course in horror stories. I'd also call this one an absolute crash course in how to setup an ending with payoff and deal with your character's skills.
We know that Emily  has been training herself as a runner, we see her do it in the book, so her kicking free of the chair and out running the crazy murderer is almost the exact opposite of a deus ex machina, ---- would that be a devil stuck in a tree? big_smile.

My only two miner issues were how we got to the big confrontation, and the character  of Emily's husband. Rather like Jessy in the Stand), henry just seemed to get written off with a little contempt, and I could never really understand how these two people could've been happy together at first. I get that King just had to find an excuse to get Emily to florida and with a running obsession and that a husband would get in the way, but he could've done it with a little less contempt, ---- EG, maybe she just had to go to Florida to clear her head and get out of the house where she'd lost her baby.
Then again, since I've never fathered a child, much less lost one, I can't say what that would do to someone's marriage, and hay maybe Emily and henry (surprised their daughter wasn't called Dorathy), weren't too fond of each other to begin with.

My second issue with the story is more critical.
Emily sees  Deek the old bridge keeper who warns her away from the nasty Pickering, okay, however then Pickering, a guy who has apparently made murdering several women a year pretty much a regular summer occurrence, just happens to leave the boot of his car open so the bloody hair of his latest victim is peeping out?

Hmmmm, can anyone say  author convenience?

Actually, I'd have minded less if say Emily thought she saw something in the car, went to look, saw what was in there and then got herself clobbered, but the idea of this supposedly meticulous murderer driving around with a body in the open boot of his car sort of beggared belief.

All that being said, I really did enjoy the story, an awesome and well plotted battle with the kind of murderer you love to hate done with the classic King compelling sense of gore, and a happy ending to boot.

Definitely a thumbs up on this one.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-09-05 02:25:49

@Dark, I have a long history with the gingerbread girl. It was published in esquire magazine, and at the time that was the only way it was available. I brought it to my high school and my teacher's aid was kind enough to scan it into a text file for me. Pickering is so crazy it's very funny, before he leaves he talks to himself as if he's getting instructions from someone or something. I really enjoyed the running aspect of the story, especially since I was running track at the time. Later when just after sunset was published I got to read gingerbread girl in audiobook form, which I liked even more. The end I loved especially because Pickering is undone by something that most people learn how to do when they are children.
Willa I liked okay, but to me it was another king exploration of the afterlife, which felt like old news to me at the time.
A Honky-tonk is a bar, usually with a country western theme. They have country singers and bands, and people are dressed in a country style, boots, leather, like that. I've been to a few, and where I live now there are some in the area. I don't like loud music and noise much either, but if I go outside once in a while I can usually handle being there for a period of time.

What has been created in the laws of nature holds true in the laws of magic as well. Where there is light, there is darkness,  and where there is life, there is also death.
Aerodyne: first of the wizard order

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2019-09-05 03:15:36

Few things here:

1. If not for Susannah, Roland probably dies in the tunnels under Fedic. He's going to have a hard time running full speed and lighting/throwing burning bones to keep the damn worm-thing away. You could argue that having Susannah on his back slowed him a bit, but it's debatable, at least.
2. Susannah definitely saves Roland from Dandelo.
3. If either Roland or Susannah goes into the badlands alone, Oy is probably sacrificed in order to harvest his fur, at which point Roland likely dies because Oy is no longer there to warn him about Mordred's ambush. They kept each other warm, remember, and snuggled up for warmth on cold nights. They did not have the appropriate clothes for survival, so their own body heat might have kept them both alive.

Those are your main three points, but remember that not all characters have to be equally useful at all times. I would think, for instance, that during the prison break at Algul Siento, Susannah setting up that damn laser gun, which started a ton of fires and really caused chaos, was pretty instrumental. If she doesn't distract the demon in book 3, Eddie and maybe even Roland are ripped to pieces, Jake never shows up, and that line never plays out. Susannah also helps with the battle against the wolves.
I also think it's pretty cheap to just dismiss Mia. Yes, she wanted her "chap". Yes, she was pretty damn single-minded. But once she got talking to Susannah in book 6, Susannah made her feel sympathy, and while I was never going to like or respect Mia much, she was more than just her desire to have a child. Don't make the mistake of misrepresenting her by how she ends up once Mordred is born; she runs mad and gets eaten, and that's kind of a bad death, though it couldn't have been any other way, really. I'm not saying Mia is a wonderful character, but to dismiss Susannah as you're doing, Dark, gives me the impression that you perhaps aren't paying as much attention as you could be.

Now, to Willa and the Gingerbread Girl:

First, Willa. I'm pretty sure David and Willa weren't straight-up trapped in the honky-tonk, but lingered there out of a desire to do so. Rather than be tethered to the station, they linger there because they enjoy it. Some people do. I thought the coda in this story was especially sweet...not -my idea of heaven, mind you, but sweet enough, in its way. I thought King did a good job of building this one, doing it fairly subtly, making Willa prickly but also likable in a lot of ways. Just a well-done story.

Gingerbread Girl, I'm a mixed bag on. I just never got into the whole Pickering thing, didn't buy the premise. On the part about having a blonde girl in his trunk though: I very, very strongly doubt he was driving around that way. I suspect Pickering went in the house or out of the way after leaving his trunk open, intending to come straight back. So Em goes in there, looks into the trunk, Pickering comes back out and sees he's got a visitor, and the rest is history. As far as the whole losing-a-child thing? I don't see Henry as being written off as a contemptuous act. This happens sometimes, is all. Dead children can sometimes wreck marriages, as such tragedy often brings out the absolute worst in people. We simply don't have enough info to say whether or not Em and Henry were happy - presumably they were, at some point, else why did they get married? - but I don't presume to know a character's past better than the author does. If he said it worked once upon a time, and now it's not, then okay, now it's not. I'd only have an issue with it if we manifestly saw everything humming along, and then the marriage exploded for no reason at all. In that case, yeah, I have a huge problem with it. But that's not what happened here.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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2019-09-05 04:16:03

Lack of sleep means I've just read two more stories, so before answering Jayde and Guitarman's comments, I'll go through my thoughts on those.
Also, bare in mind these stories were read at about two AM, which is in fairness likely the right time to read stephen King, though also bare in mind they were read whilst doing a lot of washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen and other such domestic tasks which tend to get done at this point in time when I can't sleep, which is definitely not! the right thing to do whilst reading Stephen King, though given how much some things I've read whilst doing housework have creeped me out previously, I do submit my ability to multitask is pretty good big_smile.

Harvey's dream: Okay this one suffered a little from king trying too hard to make the story scary before we got to the actually scary bit, then not have the scary bit really continue to become scary enough. All of the talk of Janet's marriage and things going wrong which then get steam rolered by her husbands possibly prophetic dream didn't really build a scary atmosphere, especially with the implication that she had developed a little contempt for her husbantd. Then again, this is something King seems to have a problem with which comes up in a lot of his stories, very few of his characters can actually be nice, or even love each other successfully.

Of course, the concept of one or other daughter possibly being killed in a drunk car crash is a nasty enough one, but the shock never really registered to me as well as it should've done, indeed I thought sorry right number was a much better executed example of this type of premise, even if it was written as a screen play.

Rest stop: Okay I'll admit my thoughts on this one changed rather drastically as I was reading it.
My first thought, when king was talking of the author who wrote gritty suspense novels about a hired killer during the summer was that we were in for a retread of the dark half. My second thought, when  we over hear the scuzbag beating his wife was that King was overdoing  a little, especially with the author's less than nice feelings about domestic abuse (his joke about spousal abuse occuring because "they just don't listen" was just plane tasteless).

then however something happened, i remembered an incident in 2016 when we were still living in our small flat.
My downstairs neighbour was a lady in her fifties who'd had previously had a long relationship with a seemingly decent guy, which I gathered between the lines ended badly.

then however we saw several other guys over a short space of time. This culminated in an incident when my lady and I were woken at 5 AM by shouting and massive  amounts of banging from below.
We at first assumed it was a party (my downstairs neighbor had many rather loud parties with her friends), however this was different.

There were sounds of breaking glass and smashing wood and definitely sounds of someone getting hit. My downstairs neighbor was sobbing and screaming for the guy to "just go." we couldn't exactly hear his half of the conversation but "no," and "fuck" came into it a lot.

So what do we do? Were I able to see I might have gone down there to sort things out, but I knew physical intervention would likely be a bad idea. In the end we settled on hammering on the floor, shouting "what's going on down there" and then calling 999.

Scummy guy left shortly after, before the police arrived, however when the police turned up, I went downstairs with my lady, my downstairs neighbor hugged me, then told the police she was alright, whereupon the wonderfully straight forward Jordy copper said:

"well if your alright, why is there blood on your face?"

In the end we never saw scummy guy again, indeed it wouldn't have surprised me if my neighbor got a restraining order, though I wasn't asked to witness or anything.

Later said neighbor also wrote complaining letters to the council about my guide dog's dog hair (yeah gratittude), but hay.

the point of all this, is that suddenly, this story of what sounded like a rather overthetop and stylised version of domestic abuse,  down to the woman being pregnant and the man's rather typical "you looked as if you were attracted to some other guy" spiel, took on a new meaning, especially with the writer trying to decide what exactly to do about it.

does this mean the situation wasn't a bit cliche? I'm not sure, maybe it was a realistic response to a cliche situation (tasteless jokes aside), either way it did strike a cord with me.

So, the ending and seeing the bullying get his comeuppance at the hands of the writer's nastier alter ego was satisfying, though I do wish the writer had been less of an arse hole to the woman, or at least hadn't continued to be contemptuous towards her, his "move your dumb arse" comment and then observing that she "obeyed because she understood" didn't exactly make him pleasant, though not that his original persona had exactly been a nice guy to begin with.

So, not a bad story, one with disturbing realism, but a character who was a bit of a douche.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-09-05 04:26:56

@Guitarman, Yeah, I gathered that a honkitonk is a bar, though I don't really get the country music, cowboy thing, its likely this is one of those bits of American culture which is hard to get a handle on elsewhere. i've heard country music songs I sort of like, but the idea that a cultural mistique complete with decor etc would make for a sort of idillic afterlife seems a little confusing to me.

Pickering was indeed wonderfully bonkers! I particularly liked his hilarious sense of unfairness when things didn't go his way big_smile.
He was a little overthetop and silly, which probably would've bothered me if the gingerbread girl had been longer and we'd seen more of him, but for a short bit of horror he was just  perfect sort of oddball nutter that makes for a good villain, this is why I disagree with Jayde that pickering was a bit too silly.

@Jayde,  I honestly wasn't sure with the body in his car whether pickering was driving around that way or not, though even if he had gone into the house to get a blanket or something to carry the body back in, it was still  coincidence a wee bit too far for this to happen literally just a minute or two after Deek warns Emily of him, especially  I doubt someone as careful as Pickering would've left the boot open anyway even if he  gone into the ghouse to get something. Had she been warned earlier in the story and then saw the car later that would've been a bit more understandable.

As regards Susana, I'm afraid you've just precisely proved my point. She does all these awesome things before and after Mia, but then her main plot, her main obstacle in the book that bares her name is this unwanted pregnancy and personality change.
Perhaps if I reread the series I'll feel a little differently about Mia and their interactions, but i just don't remember thinking much to Mia in general.

With our dreaming and singing, Ceaseless and sorrowless we! The glory about us clinging Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing; O men! It must ever be
That we dwell in our dreaming and singing, A little apart from ye. (Arthur O'Shaughnessy 1873.)

2019-09-05 04:53:33

Song of Susannah starts with people getting sucked through the wrong portals, so to speak. Roland and Eddie show up to talk to Sai King, and Jake and Father Callahan show up in keystone New York to follow Susannah/Mia to the Dixie Pig.

Unlike Detta/Odetta, who were arguably just fragments of Susannah's own personality brought partway into being by a traumatic brain injury (remember the falling brick?), Mia is very real, very external and very dead set on having her chap. Susannah's past with Detta and Odetta make her very uniquely suited to fight Mia; this book, when it's about her, isn't about pregnancy in and of itself. It's about being dominated, about being controlled, and finding other ways to fight back against that control. Slowing Mia down, making Mia feel things. Even if she cannot ultimately stop what's happening, she uses all her long-acquired skills. Hell, when the birth happens at the start of book 7 and Susannah gets hold of a gun and starts shooting up the place, she pretty much turns the tide. The same way Roland and Eddie showing up when Jake is cornered, in that same book, stop him and Oy from being two lonely targets on a firing range. I see this as King making a very strong and sometimes repetitive statement about the way women, and even women of colour, are portrayed, and how they often get pigeon-holed. After all, you'll note, I hope, that Susannah is only actually pregnant once, and as to the story of possession/personalities/all that jazz, the first is internal (which she beats, with Roland's help) while the second is internal, and she beats that one all by herself. To me, this is thematically whole. I'm not saying it's perfect, it's not. But it's a whole lot more charitable than you're painting it, IMHO.

Harvey's Dream, BTW, had this weird "I want to be eerie and I can't quite make it" feel to me. Rest Stop didn't do a whole lot for me either way, except to sicken me and remind me that approximately one in five women will suffer some form of abuse in their lifetime. Twenty percent. And it's probably higher, because a lot of it goes unreported.

Check out my Manamon text walkthrough at the following link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/z8ls3rc3f4mkb … n.txt?dl=1

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