August 16, 2003

Desperation, by Stephen King

This is another book I picked up at Detroit Metro Airport so as to be sure I wouldn't run out of reading material on the flight home. I did in fact start it on the plane, but finished it at home...not surprising, as it's huge.

I used to read King's books in hardcover, as soon as they came out; more than once I bought the latest at the airport while picking up a friend, simply because that's where I first saw it. But then Insomnia came out, and the plot was so remarkably asinine that I quit. I've picked up all (I think) of his short story collections since then, and I've got a copy of Bag of Bones that someone gave me, and that's been it. But there I was at the airport, in need of a book, and I saw this one, and I said, "What the heck."

Being a horror novel, it was, of course, gory, profane, and obscene by turns. But it was also a masterful piece of storytelling. I recently read something that described King as the 20th Century Charles Dickens, and while that's a bit of stretch, it's only a bit. King is damn good at creating multi-dimensioned, believable characters and settings, and he's always in firm control of his plots. I don't care for his pure fantasy work (e.g., "The Dark Tower" series) as much, because he's at his best when rooted in the everyday.

Anyway, this one's about a small Nevada town, on desolate and sparsely travelled Highway 50. It's a mining town, and the miners have dug too deeply, awakening a terribly evil thing. Mass bloodshed ensues--and then the thing starts waylaying travellers.

Anyway, I liked it. It's billed as being a companion novel to King's The Regulators, which was published at the same time under the name "Richard Bachman"; I've just picked up a copy. More on that later.

What can I say? Sometimes I have low tastes. It's good to see that King is back in his old form.

Posted by Will Duquette at August 16, 2003 10:42 AM

Craig said:

Will,

If you enjoy the occasional horror thing, you might like Russell Kirk (yes, the Russell Kirk of The Conservative Mind). He wrote a number of collections of explicitly Christian horror short stories. And for ghosts, of course, there is always M.R. James.

Craig