FIRST LINE FRIDAYS

Both Hoarding Books and Wandering Words have First Line Friday memes. The idea is to copy the first line (or so) from what you are currently reading to see if someone else would like it too.

This is the first line from the second story “Big Driver” in Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars. “Tess accepted twelve compensated speaking engagements a year if she could get them.” Spoiler alert: The story includes a violent, graphic rape.

After reading “1922” about a man who murders his wife (see post last Friday, “Friday Firstliners”) and now “Big Driver” in which an innocent cozy mystery writer is brutally raped after speaking in a small town and taking a short cut home, I think I have had enough of this book. This is not the Stephen King who wrote The Stand trilogy or The Dark Tower series I admire as a favorite author because of his masterful writing style, but a writer who has nightmare ideas and jots them down as short stories. I think from now on I will stick to well-written novels like Mr. Mercedes or Dr. Sleep, which demonstrate the versatility and cleverness of King’s writing style rather than his weird short stories.

FRIDAY FIRSTLINERS

I first saw the idea of First Line Fridays on Hoarding Books, then later on Wandering Words, both excellent blogs. One is to open a book and just copy the first line to see if it appeals to other readers.

Taking down a book from my TBR pile, I offer the first lines of the first story in Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars. The story is titled “1922.”

“My name is Wilfred Leland James, and this is my confession. In June of 1922, I murdered my wife, Arlette Christina Winters James, and hid her body by tupping it down an old well.”

Gotcha!

STEPHEN KING’S DR SLEEP: A Review

 The scariest Stephen King book I have read is It, hands down.  But on its heels, at a close second, is King’s more recent novel, Dr. Sleep. King is at his best drawing a picture of Evil Incarnate in both novels. In the author’s note at the end, King tells his readers that at signings, he is often asked what became of the little boy, Danny Torrance, of The Shining, a terrifying novel in its own right. This book answers that question.

Dan has hit rock bottom, involved in drug use and an alcoholic in his twenties, as he stumbles off a Greyhound bus in a little town in New Hampshire. The people he meets in town encourage him, and there he is contacted supernaturally by Abra Stone, a twelve- year-old girl whose gift of the shining is far stronger than his own. The two of them, with assistance from more minor characters, confront The True Knot, “murderous paranormals,” vampirish creatures who live off the “steam” (the shining) of young children like Abra and “the baseball boy.” One catch is that The True Knot must torture and ultimately kill these special children to feed off them.

Because Dan has taken on the job of orderly in a nursing home/hospice to make ends meet, a job no one else wants to do, he finds a way to use his “gift” for good, helping elderly end-of-life patients to transition from a suffering life to an eased death. No, not euthanasia of any kind, but a gentle, loving, vigil in the residents’ last moments that assures them it is ok to “let go.” Thus, Dan earns the title, “Dr. Death.”

Like most of Stephen King’s novels, the theme is the epic war between good and evil, and there are many hold-your-breath moments as the reader is pulled along by the story. Happily, the ending is a satisfactory one, and leaves things open for even another book about Dan and Abra if the author wishes.

TUESDAY TEASER

The idea, friends, is to grab the book you are currently reading, copy two or three random sentences as a tease to get someone else to read the book too. As a big Stephen King fan, I am reading one published in 2013 which answers the question, “Whatever happened to the little boy in The Shining who had “special abilities.” Danny or Dan, as he goes by as an adult, is having a hard time of it, to put it mildly. As part of his “shine-ability,” he uses his gift for good in a nursing hospice where he is known as Dr. Death, not because he participates in euthanasia, but because he eases peoples’ minds in their last moments. It is one way he can make up for a wasted life lost in drugs and alcohol. From King’s Dr. Death:

“Dan Torrance knew he would be living in the turret room of the Helen Rivington House from the moment he had seen his old friend Tony (an “imaginary” playmate of Dan”s who helped him escape from his psychotic father at the Overlook Hotel) waving at him from a window that on second look turned out to be boarded shut. He asked Mrs. Clausen (landlady)…about the room about six months or so after going to work at the hospice as janitor/orderly…and unofficial doctor in residence. Along with his faithful sidekick, Azzie, of course.” (Azzie is a cat who can sense when a resident/patient is approaching death.

If you’d like to participate, leave your Tuesday Teaser in the comments section below or leave your url where you have posted it.

 

WIZARD AND GLASS by Stephen King: A Review

At the risk of repeating myself, allow me to give a little background on King’s “Dark Tower” series.  When the first book of the seven volume series, The Gunslinger, was published, it was an extraordinarily hot Texas summer.  My Better Half and I checked out the unabridged CD of King’s novel, our first foray into audio books.  As the over one hundred degree afternoons droned on, we listened to Roland’s (protagonist’s) story while letting the fan blow across us on the bed.  The reader’s voice did NOT drone on and on, and we were caught up in the exciting, action-packed narrative, filled with King’s exquisite imagination.

The same reader read through Book III of the series, then died.  King said (in a newspaper account) he would never let anyone else read that particular series, so readers were committed to reading in print themselves the rest of the saga. Wizard and Glass was Book IV, and when I first attempted to read it, it seemed dull by comparison to the insane trip on Blaine the Train in Book III that I skipped Book VI and went on to Book V, The Wolves of Calla,which became, perhaps my favorite book in the whole series.  Since it was a detour from the quest/journey the ka-tet was on, there was no disconnect in the plot. I read The Song of Susanna, Book VI  next, another side-trip into Roland’s past, which revealed a darker side of both the gunslinger Susan and especially of Roland, the original gunslinger. It was perhaps the weakest book of the series, in my opinion, and certainly the goriest, grossest of all the books. Before reading Book VII, the end of the story, I realized there were gaps that I needed to fill in, so I returned to Book IV, which was all I lacked before reading the conclusion.

Book VI, Wizard and Glass, is a fascinating look into young (14 years old) Roland’s past and his first assignment as a gunslinger, as well as his first love, Susan Delgado. Perhaps one of the strongest features of this novel is the character of Rhea of the Coos, and unforgettable witch/wizard woman who will haunt your dreams and give you night terrors.  King outdoes himself with this characters and her “mutie” familiars, so grotesque that they turn your stomach. What she does to Roland and to Susan is revenge and perverseness, pure and simple.  Again this book is action-packed, a beautiful story of young love and worthy adversaries to the trio of young gunslingers (Roland and his two best friends) are the Great Coffin Hunters, all working for the Crimson King, who will appear in future books. Perhaps this is one of my favorite things about King’s series (I also found this in The Stand, another of King’s masterpieces.) is how characters from other books turn up in more recent ones to continue to do their evil or to have evil acted upon them; for example, the priest, Callahan, from Salem’s Lot, is a major player in Wolves of the Calla (Book V).

The strange, hypnotic globe in Book IV, the pink light emitting “8 Ball” of this book, is one of the thirteen globes that are encountered all through the series and has a definite effect/influence on the plot, the character development and the growth or devastation of the protagonists and antagonists in Book IV.

Wizard and Globe is long, but when I came to the end and faced the other three volumes with the quartet (quintet if you count Oy) of gunslingers, I was energized and could hardly wait to continue the journey to save the Rose and defeat the power  of the Dark Tower and the Crimson King. I do recommend reading the series in order, but King, starring with Book IV, does give a chapter or so refreshing the reader’s memory on what came before.  If you do not want to commit to seven volumes (several being over 700 or more pages), Book IV, Wizard and Globe is a good place to jump in.  Even the terrorizing suicidal journey on Blaine the Train is repeated and even prolonged and fleshed out a bit. This novel is a stand alone masterpiece and a vital part of Stephen King’s Lifework, “The Dark Tower Series.”

Stephen King’s Song of Susanna

During my own little 24 Reading Marathon (See earlier posts), I resumed reading King’s Song of Susanna, Book Six of The Dark Tower series (one  more to go!) This is a journey that has literally taken years, but one that has been totally worth the time and effort.

From the Calla and the wolves of book five to New York City in 1999 is a big leap, and the tet  of gunslingers get there by various “doors”, but eventually the ka tet are  all in the same time and place, although they have not encountered each other yet by the end of the book. What they find in 1999 proves to be both interesting and action-filled.  Characters from other books make cameo appearances, and old stories affect and merge with current developments. Horror and gore abound.  Strangest of all, I have never had the experience of an author writing himself into the plot as a character in the novel before!  Leave it to King’s imagination and creativity.

Great storytelling.  Great humor. Great suspense. Great adventure. And, Great dialogue.