2019-09-05 22:28:08

@Dark, Harvey's dream I didn't like at all. I don't understand why he wrote it, it wasn't scary to me at all.
Rest stop I liked a lot, especially when you see the old author's other side. I didn't appreciate his jokes, I've seen domestic abuse for years, mostly from my older step brother. He has the whole crazy boyfriend thing going on. Reading rest stop felt like reliving things from my past. It's interesting the guy writes about a character called the dog, but he seems to be mild mannered, then his other personality turns out to mirror what he writes. It felt to me like king was trying to make the point that writers have a thin line between imagination and the reality of things.

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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2019-09-06 03:02:18 (edited by Dark 2019-09-06 03:04:17)

@Jayde, we'll have to see, as I said,I was disappointed with Susanna's arc in the last few dark tower books and I was not a fan of Mia, and until I reread the series again, which I will certainly do, possibly together with my lady, I can't say much else.

@guitarman, completely agree about the jokes in the rest stop. sometimes I think Stephen King just got into the habit of being crass or tasteless for shock value and often can't kick it, which means frequently even comparatively decent characters suddenly come out with dodgy stuff, like Willa suddenly telling David in the title story how she wanted to "fuck on a train." Sometimes, these crassness's have a lot of point, like the nasty jokes in Gerald's game Jessie remembers, sometimes though it feels rather gratuitous, indeed Norman in Rose Madder was waaaaaaay! overboard.

Well I've done a couple more stories so thoughts incoming.

Stationary bike:  I loved the premise for this one. The doctor in the first scene explaining the vision of the workmen in Richard's metabolism struck me as a bit overly King making a pretty obvious author insert (the doctor even talked like King's usual narration), but honestly, once the picture was done, the guys had names and we were cycling off I didn't mind since the story was just so wonderfully weird.
I do wish King had either stuck some more incident in there, or made the story a bit shorter, indeed he basically said half way through "this is how these stories go," also I confess I was a wee bit disappointed when the strange road in Richard's body turned into a sort of amalgamated hymn to childhood cycling, however I was just so interested to see where the premise would go, and hay, king even surprised me with the ending here, especially with how he left so much up to everyone's imagination, rather than going the hole metafictional hog and suggesting, shock horror, that even Richard could be an idea in a book, perhaps a book by Stephen King. Probably not imiho as good as the gingerbread girl, but still not a bad story.

The things left behind:  I was wondering where this one was going, what the items were and thinking the story was a bit disjointed, I only realised as things went on the disjointed quality had a bloody good reason.
Massive credit to King for managing to write a sort of horror story themed around September the eleventh which didn't feel either excessive or cheap, and captured so much of the emotions a survivor of something like that would have.

My only two  miner issues is I did think King reitterated the "we're not dating, but we might be attracted, but we're not because I'm married, even though we're still attracted" business with Paula a bit too much. Indeed as I said of Joyland King does seem to fall a bit too much into the harry met Sally trap of assuming men and women can't be just friends without some vague sort of sexual interest there.

Second, what is it with King and flashbacks that just make his characters slightly scummy? Like his excessive jokes this just seems a bit too much and in because its expected, since if I am to have sympathy for the main character, telling us all about how he was nearly caught by his mother mastabating into his sister's underpants is just plane unnecessary.

On the other hand, the ending hear actually made me cry, and I loved the final premise  of why the items kept returning, indeed capturing people's lives through random personal momentous they had hanging about the office is a heart wrenching way of thinking about a terrorist attack.
Definitely a really awesome story, and one King clearly poured his heart and soul into for obvious reasons.

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.)

2019-09-06 10:10:32 (edited by Dark 2019-09-06 10:22:37)

Graduation afternoon:  A bit of a miss here, or at least  a piece that would've been more effective if it had had a little work. King establishes the snobby rich people, and then when the bomb hits they refuse to believe its real, however King  spent a bit too much time on Janis, the protagonist and how she was actually a complex character, quite arrogant in her own way, then at the end had her attitude to the bomb hitting being to lose herself in memories of country music.

there was not really enough poetry to make this a pure mood piece, and a little too much character to make this a poetic meditation, plus of course, it doesn't help that these days nuclear blasts feel a bit old hat, or at least to anyone who grew up in the eighties and nineties, so simply going "look a mushroom cloud isn't it scary" probably doesn't have the instant fear factor it does for the world war 2 generation. Not that the idea of  nuclear bombs isn't scary, just that to shock me in a short story there needs to be a little more behind them.

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.)

2019-09-06 17:53:13 (edited by Dark 2019-09-06 18:07:45)

N: A really good example of a story within a story within a story. i loved the idea that OCD symptoms might actually have occult significance and that the psychiatrist is pulled into things in spite of himself. I don't think king quite caught the otherworldy horror as well as he did in crouch end, what with language being a bit planer, but on the other hand I loved his use of diaries and contrasting accounts, very Dracula.

Its odd, this is a horror story where you know the ending from the start, and where everything is pretty much as you'd expect, account of nasty thing, disbelieving person goes to investigate account of nasty thing, nasty thing is real, person gets got by nasty thing, person leaves account to next person, rend and repeat big_smile.

The odd thing is, this one just worked. There were times I was impatient with the pacing, but then things absolutely paid off and the slowness made sense in retrospect, likewise, while I  didn't get as much idea of the characters as people, this one was all about the scary, particularly the scary use of numbers.

king did over egg the pudding a bit occasionally, telling us about the "world behind the world" and the "Monsters of everlasting darkness," but it didn't bother me as much as it might have done, albeit I probably would've been more scared if King had worked harder not to come up with cliches and use his own phrasing, as he usually does.

Btw, I wonder why in this story, even though King's obviously borrowing Lovecraft's great old ones or something very much like them, he named the creature as Cthun, not Cthulhu? or is there another Lovecraftian monster called Cthun I don't know about? Then again with mentions of Chester's mill and Julia Shunway making a brief camio, I wonder if Cthun was one of the leather heads from under the dome, since its head was described the same way.

Oh, and again the usual King crassness rears its ugly and possibly leathery, head, why he has to describe someone deciding to enter the gate to the field of evil with the phrase "why was I wasting time on fore play, lets get on with the fucking," I don't know.

Its not that I have anything intrinsic against crude language or metaphors, its just, ---- well time and place!

All in all though a good solid horror story and example of the Cthulhu mythos.

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.)

2019-09-06 19:00:48

I think some of this stuff, Dark, is just down to personal taste. Willa saying she wants to fuck on a train...what if that's what she really does want, and given that her and David are on their honeymoon, don't you think that's valid? And as for "getting past the foreplay and onto the fucking" sometimes people do say and think things like this. Yes it's crass. But yes it's also true to life.

I'm mostly with you on the stories, btw. Graduation Afternoon worked for me because when Janice retreated into thoughts of country music or whatnot, it's because she knows they're all dead. The cloud is too big and too close. This one broke my heart. It wasn't perfect, but it was good.
The Things they Left Behind frustrated me at first, then really paid off. I didn't cry, but he nailed the ending here. As far as the whole "we're not dating because I'm married" thing, I think he was actually making a side comment about how some people make a big deal out of this. It felt a bit much on purpose, but that's just me.
And as for N: you're spot on. You know what's coming and it still works.

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

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2019-09-06 23:26:22

The things they left behind I liked a lot, because I could relate to the story a lot. I never lived in New York, but I saw the news breaks as they were happening and I remember thinking what next, is this the end of the world? I've been afraid to fly ever since. But the story captures the horror and pain of 9/11 so well.
Graduation afternoon was okay, the nuclear thing I didn't like, but the way king writes the scene of the explosion and the aftermath work very well. I remember in the 80s and 90s, there were threats of nuclear war from the soviets and others, so after a while it feels old, but the story still worked for me.
N was great, I remember when I first read it I was going to church that night, and the story scared me so badly I was very glad to be somewhere like that. I've always assumed that cthun was one of the leatherheads mentioned in under the dome, I just wondered at the time where the giant eye and the thing with heads for teeth were. Maybe they were gone when they entered that dimension at the end of under the dome. I've always liked the idea of a story within a story, so I loved the way n was presented. The people who read n in the audiobook do a great job, especially when doing the voice of cthun. When I look back, the imagery feels so clear, the field, the stone circle, even the sign, "ackerman's field, no hunting." The story doesn't explain who or what ackerman is, but that would've been interesting to know along with everything else.

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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2019-09-07 01:50:46 (edited by Dark 2019-09-07 18:59:13)

@JAyde, I have no problem with people wanting to make love, or have sex on a train or anywhere else, as part of coping with my genophobia, my lady and I read through both Alex comfort joy of sex books together, we've tried various things together and had conversations about what else we'd like to try.
My problem is more  the  way King always uses the most profane descriptions possible, and that these things come out of left field often in an unrelated situation.

had David been recalling his relationship with Willa and various memories of their lovemaking (or fucking if he thinks of it that way), and then! talked about what she'd wanted to do that would've been fine. Similarly, I can accept that some people get off on talking dirty even though neither my lady nor I do, however in King's case it just seems he puts these things in as almost a routine. Indeed, King almost seems the opposite of Koontz for this, since where the Koontz i've read tend to overdo the treacle and the niceness and tell you how good his characters are, King has to always stick in something a bit offf, usually sexual, as with the protagonist of "the thing's we left behind's" masturbation.

of course, a little of this with one or two characters would make sense and be true to life as you say, but King seems to do it with almost every character almost all the time, even in situations when it seems fairly inappropriate (since apart from that crass metaphor, Johnny in N struck me as an extreme rationalist).

On the dating thing in things left behind, I'm afraid I didn't think there was any meta commentary going on here, after all King as I said did very much the same thing in Joyland, though there it was from the other way around when Stewart's apparently female friend Erin, who was actually with Stewart's other friend at the time starts kissing him and is clearly attracted.

Okay read a couple more stories so thoughts coming up.

The cat from hell: which has to be the most god aweful title for a story King has ever come up with. Oddly enough, the story was actually rather good. Like several of King's stories, it literally does what it says on the tin. Its a purely schlocky, completely predictable and formula horror story with the subtlety of a chainsaw to the guts. I also thought it was awesome! Cats are bloody evil, and this cat had revenge in its mind. I particularly liked how King did almost camera cuts with each of the cat's murders, so by the time the hit man was heading off to peacefully do the cat in, we pretty much know what's coming. The genious part, is what is coming is described in such wonderfully splatterhouse detail, honestly towards the end when the cat was going for the guy's mouth I was thinking "your not really going to do cat alien are you?" and yes, indeed he is!

Okay, its basically a literary version of a mortal Combat fatality, and not a story that would have any long lasting value, but it did its job bloody well, pun most definitely intended.

The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates: Okay, had I read this story before getting married, I probably would've gone "well that was interesting," however the way King captures two people who know each other extremely well and obviously love each other has a really frightening realism to it, especially when reading it whilst in bed holding my wife and unable to sleep. I particularly liked the way James was just sort of vaguely resigned and having a fairly average phone call. Though very different in style and feeling, it reminded me strongly of Ray Bradberry's last night of the world.

the only miner niggle I have is that there  were lose ends that I think King should've either expanded or snipped. For example James , mentions being unsure which door to go through in the station, and I wondered if that would relate to  Anny somehow. Similarly, I really didn't quite get the ending, since while I got that James helped Anny avoid tragedies later, I didn't exactly get why she seemed to be ringing a new york times subscription company or what the title meant, which might just be me being dim.

So, while King got the mood  and characters of this one absolutely right, scarily right in fact, either I'm not getting something or he should've tightened things up a little.

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.)

2019-09-07 02:32:28

Oh the cat from hell! I'll admit the title is too obvious, but the cat and especially the end made me laugh and feel sick at the same time. My grandparents had my sister's cats when I read this story, I kept picturing myself being the Hitman and I couldn't go near them for a while.
The new York times story was too strange to be good I always thought. James describing the station and the doors that surround it brought to mind the dark tower doorways. King seems to have a weird obsession with afterlife dimensions, this story and some others have the same feel. Maybe he's expressing his fear of the afterlife in stories because what lies beyond death is unknowable to us all.

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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2019-09-07 02:45:51

As I understood it, there is no especial significance to the number from the call itself. It's just a matter that the number had to come from somewhere, got essentially hijacked briefly. The message is also supposed to be that the dead can reach out to you occasionally, to help you, but you, in your mortal way, can never reach back.

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

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2019-09-09 07:35:24

Okay I've read a couple more stories so thoughts coming up.

Mute: I liked the initial setup of this one,  particularly with it being a confession about a confession, and us getting almost three separate scenes,  Monette confessing to the priest, Monette bitching to the mute hitch hiker in the car, and the story of his wife's affair and financial shenanigans, also credit to King for creating a wonderfully human and down to earth catholic priest for the guy to confess to, someone who obviously has dealt with a lot of people and heard it all before.
The problem is that this didn't really go  anywhere. As in 1922, it was the story about a rather nasty guy with a rather nasty wife, indeed the guy's self justifications were about as pleasant to read as the details of the wife's rather casual affair and remorseless gambling, this made the payoff super pointless. By the bare way the set up was done it was obvious that the mute would not be quite as deaf as the guy thought and the wife (and possibly her lover), were up for the chop.
This meant when I heard the hitchhiker had tracked them  down and beat them to death with a pipe wrapped in a hotel towel my initial thought was more "oh that's an interesting method of murder," than "oh god someone has just been killed" or even any feelings about Monette's situation.
This one really needed a sting, a bit of calmer, for Monette's response that he ws glad his wife was dead to cost him something, indeed I wondered if the hitch hiker might go and murder Monette's daughter, (his love for her was really his only redeeming feature and while that would've been a nasty ending this is a horror story after all), or maybe that the  "company" the priest mentioned having for lunch would turn out to  be the hitchhiker who'd just heard monette's confession and was rather anoyed about being tattled on, but no, ding dong the witch is dead, hurrah for homicide.

A long story whose end was obvious, and which  just plane lacked the surprise it ; should've had, and whose main character was almost a total arsehole. Not good.

Iana: definitely the worst story in the collection. King's  blind child was so ridiculously overthetop it made me wince, (even at seven being asked  to count steps out loud would've made me feel stupid), and the girl falls over the IV stand, just to make sure we all know how weird and blind she is.
Of course  she has magic powers, because blind  people, particularly blind children are  wonderfully strange and otherworldly and do strange magical blind things.

I've seen  reviews that criticise john Coffee in the green mile and Mother Abigail in the stand as being "magical negro" characters, that is black people who have mysterious magical powers from being so otherwordly and dark skinned.
I never felt that way about either, since both are also shown to be very human characters who   have their own struggles and I loved both, indeed the major point in the green mile is how poor John Cofee's magic powers get him into trouble for just trying to help.

In this story though, Iana is literally called "the magical negro child" by the main character's cynical wife, I'd add blind onto that description too and you pretty much  have a walking cliche, particularly with shock horror, the fact that at the end of the story the main character is told she's dead, because magical blind angels obviously need to go back to heaven where they belong.

Apart from her, the premise of the story might've worked, I got a clearer idea of character here, and credit to King for creating a spiky wife who was cynical without being repellent, also his descriptions of sickness were sort of irreverent to the point of almost surrealism, I also liked how the father who was sick was actually shown to be a real person, indeed credit to King on hitting the contrast between someone very ill and the person they were (which makes his magical blind person even more obviously a major misstep). Even the idea that the power gets passed on, and people get the power to heal others, which had he executed it differently could've made for a genuinely appealing story of miracles, especially with the guy not able to heal his sister in law's Alzheimer's couldn't save this one for me.

Btw, when I mentioned this one to my lady, she said she'd actively repressed memory of it, and that King really fails with blind people, like Dyna in the langoleers, yet another magic blind girl,  which makes me interested to reread that one as well and see what I think of it now.

Next up is the narrow place, which I believe my lady has mentioned to me before as a wonderfully icky premise which I'm quite looking forward to.

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.)

2019-09-09 14:57:14

Alright with finishing A very tight place this morning we bring the collection to a close so thoughts here.
I've mentioned King's occasional crassness being   distracting.  when he seems to just stick it in in an unwarrented place, however when he devotes himself to it, he can be wonderfully, most carefully and  effusively disgusting in an absolutely hilarious,  and skin crawling way.
I particularly liked how he managed to get even grosser as time went on, what with poor Curtice having to crawl into the holding tank not to mention the fantastic confrontation in the guy's bath.
Actually, what impressed me here  is that King   worked the elements of a successful short story into  what was essentially a shock piece.
Millionaire  stock brokers engaged in  petty grudge matters with millions of dollars are not inherently sympathetic people, and King doesn't shy away from the fact that Curtice is not exactly a nice guy, or even a particularly rational guy with his neurotic tendencies and self harming via vomiting, indeed at the start I wasn't exactly sure whether Curtice or "the mother fucker" was really the injured party.

However, King makes curtice inherently more sympathetic by the fact that he had a dog who he loved, and his rival much nastier by the fact that the rival as much as killed the dog, and that even before we meet the rival and realise the guy is a complete nutball. 
I also liked the fact that   curtice is very much a  character who is also gay, rather than a gaaaaaaaaay! character, that is, king makes him a person first, and gay just as part of that, perhaps lessons he should've thought of a bit more clearly when writing about heavenly little blind children..

I did notice a few recurrent King themes, especially in the physical torment Curtice was going through in the porterloo,  though being as this was a short story, albeit a long one, King didn't overdo things too much or repeat Gerald's game or mysery, he gave us enough info to know how nasty it was and cheer when  Curtice made it out, actually I really liked the use of Betsy's dog tag here.

the final confrontation was quite justified and hilarious. All in all a rousing end to the collection.

In general, the collection has been great fun, there have been some storeis I liked more than others, but a lot of really solid ones, such as N, Tight place  and the gingerbread girl, indeed only a couple of really major clunkers, but that's true of any collection.

As to what comes next, we'll see. I have four past midnight, and my lady fancies doing needful things, but I might give that a rest for a little while.

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.)

2019-09-09 18:43:57

Interestingly, Ayana didn't suck for me as much as for you. She didn't have magical powers because she was blind; she had magical powers because random people get them passed along. As I recall, she was also ill as well as blind, and only like seven years old, and seemingly with someone who, while they knew her, was not actively teaching her properly (thus the counting steps). I felt that her blindness, then, was incidental, and not all that important, really. Thus, I actually quite liked that one.
Totally agree with you about Mute and A Very Tight Place though.

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

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2019-09-09 19:41:37

@JAyde, I'm afraid Iana being magical and blind sort of seemed forgone to me from the very start, and definitely facts that went together from the description of her eyes, to her sun glasses, to the way King even wrote out the "let me here you count."
Maybe I'm a bit more sensitive about this since I was myself a very sick blind child at the age of seven and always felt mortified when people treated me that way, or maybe its bad memories from the langoleers I don't know. Its also possible the back cover really  spoiled things:

back cover wrote:

In “Ayana,” a blind girl works a miracle

it didn't describe Tight place as "A gay man gets locked in the lavatory!" big_smile.

Still I'm not going to let one  less good story spoil the hole collection anyway.

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.)

2019-09-09 20:38:57

Well, the fact that she's blind is proven incidental when the main character, who appears to have no such issues of his own, gets the ability passed on to him. Thus it's not related to who you are or what you have, it's where you are at any given time. It sounds, in fact, as if Ayana got her gift (probably in the hospital, while dying herself), and was compelled to use it and pass it on. Also, "a girl performs a miracle" sounds so much more bland than "a blind girl performs a miracle". Nah, this is not a magical blind child. This is someone who is, in a rather sad way, a victim of circumstance. And I think (correct me if I'm just flat wrong on this) that the woman who's with her, the one who says "let me hear you count" does not look like her mother/grandmother, but rather like someone who's accompanying her. In that case, I have an issue with that person more than the child herself. But in this way, King is actually hitting it square, because some people most definitely -are just that insufferable.

Also? Regarding magical Negros, to use a tired phrase? Yes, King has done it. Abigail is the most egregious example in my opinion. John Coffey, your mileage may vary on. But it's no accident that his initials mirror those of perhaps the most famous mythical figure in history (his original name was something like John Bowes, but King changed it). In the time and place King chose for his story, Coffey all but had to be black, as a white man would have gotten a fairer trial instead of just being arrested on the spot. After all, if one prison guard can figure it out, and if a few reporters could also figure it out, you'd think they'd go for a retrial...but nope, because that's not what was done for people of colour in those days. So without his skin colour, you don't have a premise. Do I cringe at the idea of a white dude writing a black character who seems destined to heal and/or otherwise set right the plights of a bunch of white people, one way or the other? Hell yes.

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

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2019-09-10 04:20:57 (edited by Dark 2019-09-10 04:23:35)

While Iana's ability was transferrable, the presentation of her as blind, and the specific association of blindness with otherworldly strangeness was what bothered me here, that and the fact that both the girl and her carer were presented as so "blind!"

but Fair enough Jayde, as I said I just took the story differently.

The "magical negro" thing is something I've only picked up from reading other people's reviews and didn't really bother me as such,, as I said I found John Coffee and Mother Abigail both really appealing characters, especially coffee, partly in fact because of the tragedy of the racism contributing to him not having a trial.

remember that we don't have the history that goes with a lot of that sort of thing in this country (I don't know who your referring to with  your mention of "mythical initials", not that there aren't racists in England, there definitely are, but over here most dark skinned people you meet are usually third or fourth generation west Indians whose grand parents or great grand parents came to Britain in the fifties, indeed here your more likely to encounter racism against Indians or Pakistanis than against black people.

(the first time I heard the N word, was someone listening to gangster rap, and I thought it meant gangster).

I only mentioned the magical negro thing with respect to Iana since it seemed  to me very much a case of "the magical blind girl," though the fact she heals sighted people bothers me less than her presentation as very very blind and therefore strange.

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.)

2019-09-10 04:28:37

Remember, also, that she just sort of walks into a home and is there when people turn around. That in itself is plenty strange without her blindness or the peculiarity of the situation.

When I talk about mythical figures, this isn't something you have to be Canadian or American to know. John Coffey's initials, JC, are also the initials of Jesus Christ, who was also well-known for healing the sick and wounded, and we all know how it turned out for him. Sacrificed, right? Just like Coffey. To me, this is either brilliance or arrogance on King's part, I'm not quite sure which. But it was definitely intentional, he said so himself.

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

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2019-09-10 04:50:46

Lol, Okay I am officially a stupid head, I thought you meant someone in American black history somewhere when you said "mythical figure."

I also apologies profusely to the god of coffee for not  its closness to holiness big_smile.

I'll have to ask my lady, who is both far more well read in Christianity and stephen King than I am if she picked that up.

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.)

2019-09-10 20:26:43

Okay,  shameless plug, my Review of Gerald's game can be read here

Its basically what I said earlier in this topic, though rather better written.

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.)

2019-10-25 05:47:33 (edited by Dark 2019-10-25 06:05:07)

Well today my lady and I finished reading needful things.
We'd had some extremely bad news last week, and needed something really engrossing to read together, and its one my lady's fancied doing for a while, not the least because the audio version read by Stephen King is one of his best, with King doing a great job of the readings and some wonderfully ironic musical themes used for each character.
So, thoughts in coming, as are spoilers, stop here lest yee wish to be spoiled!

It's odd. On the one hand the book is extremely slow, there is a massive amount of setup as you go through each of the town's residents individually with gaunt selling them items and demanding tricks, and everyone getting increasingly possessive about the things they by, even as you learn their backstory.

I will give King credit in creating a lot of very well rounded characters, some of whom, we even ended up feeling sorry for inspite of ourselves, some of whom we loved to hate (Wilma Jersic reminded me of a very nasty downstairs neighbor I used to have). and I liked the fact that the catholic/baptist disagreement is over something so petty, and also the fact that not all sides are quite equally responsible for starting things off (the catholic priest came across as a slightly less rabid person pushed too far).

Some characters were exasperating at points, EG Sally the perfectly virtuous and self righteous girl with her nice but dim boyfriend, who at the same time really didn't deserve the tricks played on them or where they ended up, though in that debarcle the one I really felt sorry for was John, the poor cop who got beaten up and nearly killed.

That being said, all this comes at something of a cost, since there is so much setup, you know thing are going to go to hell, it's all a question of who, and how and where, and while I won't say the book dragged, I did wonder when King was going to get to the point. It's rather like eating a really huge shepherd's pie. You start off with the mashed potatoes on top. The mash is nice, it tastes good, it's well seasoned, but you want to break through into the bit underneath, particularly because you know that mash would be even nicer when eaten along side the stew.

Spending so much time around the town was also slightly detremental for some characters like Polly and Brian we actually wanted to see a little more of, indeed, while I know part of the point of the story was that everyone had their buttons and secrets and issues, I do sort of wish we'd spent a little less time with scuzbags like Ace marrel, who did get a bit samy after a while. Oh and BTw poor Thad beaumont! I never realised his wife had left him and he shot himself, that is just down right depressing!

it also might have been nice if the one black character wasn't a raging racist and the gay characters weren't both pedophyles either, though King actually managed to do something I didn't think possible and actually make two pedophyles commic relief, (I loved the phrase "you killed my parakeet and shit on my mother!").

I also liked the way in the final conclusion Alan's magic worked, which made perfect sense for Gaunt, though I do wish King had eased off on all of the "Demon begone, I banish thee!" type of stuff. Those sorts of poetic, power lof light triumphs endings work best when they're based around the characters, as in It, floating dragon or the stand, and worst when it feels more like something else doing the vanquishing and the characters are sidelined. So, whilst Alan and the magic, and even a couple of callbacks to The Dark Half and Cujo (which I haven't actually read), were okay, I did think King over did things a bit.

I also have heard the criticism that Needful things is a generic King and just recycles a lot of his ideas, evil cars, small town rivalry with small town going boom at the end, conclusion where the powers of light do in the bad guy.
I also see a few myself, Ace the evil greaser, Danforth the unstable nutty statetes man, the good natured cop, the spider scene in the bathroom etc.

The problem is whilst this is vaguely true, at the same time this is Stephen King we're talking about. So often my lady and I would find ourselves laughing at a bit of gallows humour, sympathetic when people had aweful things happen to them, and genuinely creeped out by something creepy. Plus, King took a step here and actively shocked me! Since I honestly never saw Brian's suicide coming, and after that I knew all bets were off, so when we ran into things like Danford's murder of poor murtle they were genuine scares.

I wouldn't say Needful things stands out as a King novel. Where Desperation felt like King having a go at a generalised horror novel, Needful things feels like King slightly resting on his laurels and doing what King does. The problem is, what King does is also a bloody good read and well worth reading! even aside from King's own wonderfully enthusiastic reading and the ironic music.

So, whilst probably not a favourite King novel, not a bad one either.

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.)

2019-12-10 13:28:13 (edited by Dark 2019-12-10 13:31:41)

Okay threadcromancy is both because my needful things review is up and can be Read here, and because I've just finished reading The talisman, which is a collaboration between Stephen King and Peter Straub.

This one doesn't get talked about when people discuss King's novels, and to some extent I can see why. Indeed, whilst I've only read one Straub novel, Floating dragon, there were quite a few things here that reminded me of that in style, particularly the dips into rather odd poetry, predestination and fantasy, not to  a real edge to hollywood stardom, which were less like the gritty stephen King we know.
That being said there was a lot of typical kingism here, a really well done protagonist who was a twelve year old boy, and a journey literally across the entire length of America, plus a lot of horrible experiences in both this world and in the fantasy world of the territories, which at least in this novel, isn't related to the dark tower world.

Okay, for those who haven't read it, the talisman is about twelve year old Jack Sawyer, son of a B movie actress from the fifties. His mother is dying of cancer and being menaced by his father's business partner Morgen slote (yes with a name like Morgan slote you just know he's going to be a nice chap).

it turns out that Jack's situation mirrors that in the fantasy world of the territoriess, where the queen is similarly dying and being menaced by Morgan of Oris, her evil minister. For this reason, jack is sent off, ---- by a very typically king lovable old theme park handy man who actually turns out to be a gunslinger in the other world), to recover the Talisman which can cure both his mother and the queen.

I admit the start was slow, and partly that was due to Straub's rather annoying habit of only giving half an info dump, then having the action go somewhere else, indeed I know people have a downer on infodumps in literature but given Jack had to have several conversations with speedy parker (the old handyman I mentioned), why Speedy couldn't just tell him more in one go I don't know.

However, I admit I'm a sucker for journey stories, so once Jack started off, I got interested.

The teretories was a wonderfully dangerous world, indeed even farmer's markets and the like had a hinge of danger to them, and some things Jack encountered were down right disturbing. Occasionally, jack would need to flip back to America to travel for a while, but surprisingly these secdtions didn't drag, since like the Stand, the authors gave things a real sense of place and horror, and some of the very normal nastiness Jack ran into was nasty enough.

I admit one thing I didn't like, was the fact that when Jack ran into various dodgy guys whilst hitch hiking, they were always referd to as "queers" or "sissies" as if "queer" and and "pedophyle" were the same thing.

Not that the book has any out and out homophobic rants, indeed there are background comments about one of Jack's dad's friends being a perfectly nice gay guy, but the fact that Jack simply blanket categorises all the creeps as "queers" didn't feel right to me.

That being said a lot of other stuff was just quite cool, indeed the book contains probably the best example of a werewolf I've read in a long time. Who'd have imagined werewolves as shepherds, what's mor werewolves who are very canine, but just as wolfish when the moon comes up.
Indeed if I have a miner problem, I do wish we'd seen more of wolf and that he'd been in the book for longer, though yee gods that was how to do tragedy!

Unfortunately, after wolf exited, Jack's next companion was his friend Richard who really was a disappointment.
Honestly, if Richard were female I'd be calling him an utter damsel for how useless he was.

I don't mind characters having an arc, starting off useless  growing and finally achieving their potential, that is called development, however Richard pretty much starts off like the panicky character in any disaster film, then when he stops doing that and finally believs what is happening, he gets ill  and Jack has to literally carry him!
In the end, when jack has to go into the final big scary location, he's told he needs to take Richard with him, yet all richard did was literally pass out in the hall!

I think one thing that contributed to this, is that towards the end jack became a bit too awesome and the authors were a little too in love with jack. There is a point where writing universe spanning ultimate power of light works, and a point when it just looks as if the main character is succeeding too often.
Sometimes, I applauded Jack's success. Sometimes I loved the poetry even when I just had to run with the logic (especially when jack was using the talisman), sometimes however, it just felt as if Jack was running around yelling "demon begone!" and getting through a little too easily, as when he's able to rambo his way passed an entire army even though he's never fired a gun before in his life./

With Jack hogging the awesome, poor richard had his share rather stolen I thought, which was a bit of a shame.

That being said, a lot of the time, jack's awesome actually did work, especially when some of the things he was up against were so down right nasty, indeed Morgan slote was a wonderfully unpleasant villain, sort of like Jim Remmy from under the doem crossed with jafar big_smile.

I do wish Jack's relationship with his mother had been a little less snarky, though Straub (and in this case I think it probably was Straub), was able to show Jack's feelings quite successfully in the narration, even if their interactions were always a bit on the snide side.

So, all in all the talisman was pretty good, albeit I can see why it's not exactly everyone's cup of tea, since the start is a wee bit slow, plus you really need to have a liking for journey stories and an ability to occasionally just relax and run with things working because they do to really apreciate it.

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.)

2019-12-10 20:44:11

That's basically what I thought as well. The start really draged on for a while, but then it got interesting. Problem was, I listened to a daisy audio book in german and I have never heard such a slow reader in my entire life. And the first thing he did was pronouncing Stephen like Steffen. I was imediately convinced that this was going to be great. Luckily, that was when I got Audible and I could switch to a professional german voice actor. Don't get me wrong, I find it great that there are free audio books on daisy, but their readers can be quite unmotivated sometimes. Don't know how this applies to english audio books.

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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2020-05-11 00:24:21 (edited by Dark 2020-05-11 00:24:38)

Okay, I'm bringing this topic back from the grave because Mrs. Dark and I have just finished another Stephen King novel, this time Bag of bones. I'll be putting together a more formal review in a bit, but I thought I'd throw some thoughts down here and see what everyone else thinks as well, oh and of course spoilers ahoy!

It's actually odd rereading Bag of bones now, since this is a case where my life experience has vastly changed my view on many things in the book.
When I first read it I was nineteen and had no idea what being married was like, now almost nineteen years later, I reread it with my wife, and thus my hole take on Mike's grief about Jo's death is utterly different. I particularly liked how much you got to know Jo even before the ghosts turned up.

That being said, I didn't find mike quite as easy company. maybe it was him describing himself as "moderately successful", and complaining because he only has two houses and a few million dollars, and is winjing about only being at position fifteen on the best seller list, but honestly, at the beginning of the book, and even later when he was commenting snearingly about Matty shopping at K mart, he actually come across as snobbish and less than pleasant some of the time.

I also will freely admit, this was the Stephen King book that reminded me just why people say King's books are too long, since nearly the first third, up until he actually moves back to the Haunted house Sarah Laughs, was very long winded setup, and whilst necessary for character and situation building (as well as a brief appearance from Ralf Roberts from Insomnia), at the same time things were dragging a fair bit, since wierd dreams and loneliness can only take a narrative so far.

All of this changed once Mike moved back to Sarah Laughs, and both the supernatural manifestations and character interest went into overdrive.

I will say, Kyra, the little three year old girl was scating the point of being a bit too overly cute and idealised on occasion, though at least King Avoided the trap writers like Koontz fall into with child characters, and had either the rest of the cast, or even the narrator tell us how lovely they were.

The way King Handled Mike's feeling for a much younger woman and the desire to help leading to friendship leading to romance was genuinely rather sweet, albeit some of his descriptions of Matty did get a bit overly praiseworthy.

One aspect I did feel a bit odd about, was the way that Mike continually referdd either in his ghost induced sexual dreams, or in narration to the phrase "do what you want", a phrase he'd picked up from a feminist essay claiming that was what all men wanted in sex.
Whether Mike's attributing this phrase to himself, and describing "love for men as one part lust one part astonishment", was a genuine idea, a symptom of Mike's believed self disgust being an older man looking at a younger woman, or the psychic influence of Sarah I'm not sure.

Speaking of psychic influence though, these are probaly some of the best written ghosts I've seen, I particularly love the combination of unconscious impulses, rituals and psychic manifestations, and how this all ties in to the community, conspiracy and some genuinely skin crawling child murder.
Indeed, the way the conspiracy and psychic influence was unearthed was something I particularly liked, since what happened to Sarah Tidwell and her son was truly, and unbelievably horrific, indeed some of the nastiest stuff King has ever written, and yet at the same time we see what she's been doing in revenge, how many people she's influenced to kill their own children. it's a wonderfully tangled, horribly uggly situation where two wrongs, and pretty extreme and nasty wrongs at that, dont' make a right, for all that Sarah's rage is both understandable, even if it has transformed her into something quite wrong.

The other side of the coin, I actually thought the romance with matty and the battle over Kyra's custody worked,  well, particularly how down right nasty a villain max Devor was, and how this tied into the small town consciousness. Again, that sort of small town, everyone knows everyone else, and one person can be ostracised when they're disapproved of seems a bit odd to me, but then again, I grew up in a city, and whilst I now am living in a small town, I don't really know anyone here to be ostracised from anyway big_smile.

Matty's death is shocking, yet at the same time, made perfect sense, since had she survived, things would have been a bit too pat.

The only thing I didn't care for in the ending, was the implication that perhaps Jo's spirit was stuck in Sarah Laughs, unless she was waiting until Mike was okay and had full custody of Kyra, and the last rant about writing and why Mike stopped.

There were several times when Mike felt a little too close to King himself, and in this winj about killing off characters making an author a nasty person, he felt very much like King, who ironically, has not stopped writing.
had Mike's experiences caused him to write better, or care more for his characters, or change genre or direction, that I could understand, but having him utterly stop just felt like King's "what if", to me, apart from the fact I always find it sad when a creative person gives up their art.

So, all in all, bag of bones, despite a slower start, and an occasionally prickly main character, was actually really good.

Very immediate King writing, occasional moments of horror or grotesque scenes, like Max Devor and Rogette Witmore Pelting Mike with stones from the lake, and some rather lovely bits too. Plus, a slightly more morally complex and ambiguous idea in it's mystery.

I was disappointed that Grady Hendrics in the above stephen King reread basically wrote this off as King's attempt at gothic romance, largely to appeal to female readers, since it seemed anything but. Yes, there is a strong romantic element, but you'd find the same in Salem's lott, Rose madder or half a dozen King books, and the ghosts, and weird influences are certainly very classic King.

of course, as I said, reading this with my wife, and understanding Mike's marriage and his possible grief a little more, it might be that I'm a bit more imured to romance elements than some, I don't know.
But whilst I probably wouldn't count this as among King's very best, it's certainly one of his better books, in my not so humble opinion.

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.)

2020-05-11 06:04:48

I'de say yes. I haven't read all his books but so far all the once I have read have been good.

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2020-06-06 01:53:49

At risk of threadcromantically blowing my own trumpet (which sounds really disturbing), Here is my formal bag of bones review.

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.)

2020-08-10 14:56:00 (edited by Dark 2020-08-10 15:07:23)

Okay, my lady and I just finished Duma key yesterday, which is one I've not actually seen mentioned in this topic, so spoilage ahoy for that one if you've not read it.

oddly enough, i'll admit reading this so soon after bag of bones was a miner error, or at least there were some notable similarities in the basic shape of the plot, guy has really crappy event happen in later life, goes off on his own to sort things outt engages in creative work.

on the other hand, there are some major differencces. For a start, Edgar freemantle I found a rather more likeable character than Michael in Bag of bones, despite him also being a multi millionaire.

I also found that whilst the book moves slowly, there were no points where I was actively wishing King would get on with things.
maybe this is just because the way King write's about Edgar's accident and recovery was so very compelling, from his fits of rage, to his both tragic and occasionally even hollowly funny inability to get words right.
Actually, the way King dealt with all of the consequences of Edgar's recovery, from what it's actually like to have one arm and a none working leg to his various uncontrollable fits of rage was extremely good.

This meant that I was fairly invested in the book at the start, so by the time we started to have creepy stuff begin happening, I was already on board, and that before we got genuinely likable secondary characters. Indeed, with Wireman King does something that I always admire, and lets explanation of the strange influence explain aspects of his character we've already seen.

I mean, we realise Wireman is a nice guy, but when we learn that the psychic influence on Duma key affected his talent for empathy the way it affected Edgar and Elizabeth's art, it just clicks.
It also explains why this book is such a good bromance, and why Edgar and Wireman become best mates so quickly, then again, since both are lonely nice guys who see the world in the same way it's not too surprising.

What I also liked in this book was the way King dealt with Elizabeth's Alzheimer's, being both brutally honest about her condition deteriorating (just as honest in fact as he is about Edgar), and yet at the same time still making Elizabeth both engaging and mysterious, indeed with Elizabeth when you realise how much she remembers of her past and how much she was trying to communicate, her story become all the more tragic.

Edgar's daughter  Ilse was a little idiolised, then again I can forgive that for being a father's first person view of his favourite child, particularly with the way that other members of Edgar's family tended to come off as real, indeed I like the nuances of Edgar's marriage to Pam, a marriage which both my lady and I suspect was probably doomed anyway even before Edgar's rage caused him to get physical, and yet the fact that towards the end of the book, Pam and Edgar at least reconcile somewhat. Though unfortunately that reconciliation goes down the tube's when Ilse is killed, and presumably never recovers.

Another thing I particularly appreciated here, was the way that the mystery about Elizabeth's past had such a slow revelation, combined with creepy stuff happening in the present, indeed King has a tendency in his books, Desperation, Bag of bones, It, to do this huge "and here is what happened in the past!" about three quarters of the way through, after vague hints only leading up to that point.
here though, he got both the revelations and clues exactly right, indeed I found myself trying to piece together what had happened to Elizabeth's family in 1927, and what actually had happened to the rest of her family.

King indeed, obviously took a lot of time in this book with mysteries since there were lots of moments when he surprised me with plot twists, and yet revealed that the grand work was already there, as indeed he did with Ilse's death, indeed that hole chapter, when you believe she's safe, with Edgar struggling with his memory and the evil sketch was down right fiendish.

The only thing I did find a little odd, is how little Edgar used his power, once he realised how it worked, then again, King timed things so that the confirmation Edgar could alter reality only happened just when mysteries connected to the horrific events in the past, and pottential horrors in the present were coming to the for, so Edgar presumably wasn't tempted to try more after disposing of the child murderer and fixing Wireman's eyesight.

okay, I'll admit my only major issue with the book was with it's ending.
For a start, a miner point, i really wish that there was an implication that Elizabeth's two little sisters had moved on, the way her sister's husband emmerson did after Wireman killed him with Silver and perse was gone, since it would've been fitting to leave all of Elizabeth's family together, then again, I suppose that might have been a little too easy.

My major problem though is with the final ending.
Wireman dies of a random heart attack, not because of the evil influence, or giving his life for something greater, just because shit happens!
Edgar gives up his art because he still has the power, and doesn't want to risk being tempted to do anything, and of course, though theoretically Edgar released her spirit when he killed her undead sand ghost at the end, Ilse is still dead.

So, Edgar, this man we've just spent nearly 24 hours reading time with, begins the book a lonely divorced old bachelor with no close friends and no direction, and ends exactly the same way!
The last we hear, his wife blaime's him for their their daughter's death (and goodness knows what his elder daughter thinks), , his new best mate Wireman and wireman's concerns all go down the  toilet and Edgar, now short a good few friends, as well as an arm, a new career, a daughter  and everything else, ---- edgar, mmmmm, I don't know?

Had Edgar perhaps kept his ability to paint minus the power at the end, or maybe was reduced to the ability of a normal artist and need to relearn how to use it, or heck, if Wireman had survived and Edgar was going to go off with him to renovate a hotel in Mexico as Wireman planned. Indeed, whilst my lady reminded me we do hear that Edgar is in Mexico, we don't find out what he's doing there, heck for all we know he could be arranging Wireman's funeral.

At the start of the book Edgar's therapist, kindly old Doctor Kaimon (who also wound up very dead), told Edgar he needed "hedges against the night", indeed at that point it was pretty clear Edgar was very much approaching suicide.

Well guess what? That lovely directionless state Edgar started in? Well he's right back there at the end, undead demon slaying, mystery solving and awesome magic painting abilities not withstanding.

It's not a bitter sweet ending like that in bag of bones where Michael gives up his writing, admits his wife's grief but gains a daughter.

It's not a gritty "recovering in time", ending like Gerald's game, misery  or rose madder, it's not even a darkly tragic nasty ending like pet cemetery or Cell.

it's just a "shit happens, and life is meaningless." ending.

Thanks a bunch King, I hope in some universe out there, Edgar freemantle realises who is behind all of this and paints you a really large and painful boil on your inflated rear end!

So, duma key, a slow, but pretty awesome book, with a super crappy ending, or at least such is my thought anyway.

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.)