Sick of feeling hellishly depressed at what I’d been reading lately I decided to go back to my roots , and while not the slightly unhinged books of Anne Rice, I decided on a not-so-recent Stephen King.
Derry, Maine. The place nightmares are made of. Stories so interwoven they surprise you with their similarities but also their differences. Violence and horror, which for some reason I’ve always had a shine to.
“Beep beep Ritchie” took me back to the first time I discovered the cache of Stephen King books my parents had – never a fan of a library, I read anything I could get my mitts on at home, and these always had the slightly ‘you’re not supposed to be reading this’ feel about them.
Of course his style has changed over the years, but still the books are a mixture of paced thriller/horror that I’m never really able to put down, I read Under the Dome in an absurdly short amount of time (3 nights), similar with this. It feels a little like the same old story, Male protagonist, slightly damaged in some way (this time with an alcoholic wife who has left him for another man in her AA group) who discovers something dark about a town (this time a time travel portal), add in wonky bits about Derry, Maine (the past doesn’t want to be changed) and zip through to the final denouement which everything cleans up and all loose ends are partially tied until next time…
With the added element of the JFK shooting (Derry changes to Dallas, interestingly acknowledged throughout the book), this book made for an absurdly good read. My limit of JFK knowledge is essentially the Oliver Stone film, with that phenomenal court scene with Kevin Costner – it was interesting to see that other slightly strange side of shooter Lee Harvey Oswald.
His russian wife Marina (who is still alive might I add…) features, with their baby June, and the amount of domestic violence that was likely ‘acceptable at the time’ makes for a hard read. Maybe it’s the tone or style but it’s written so you have no sympathy for Lee Oswald, I’m sure what really happened is far more complex & complicated.
In the same way that my generation rests a bit on the George W Bush / Gore election (would we have two war fronts in Afghanistan & Iraq? Would we have as much online surveillance? Would climate change be accepted?), I guess it’s our parents generation which is the ‘How would the world have changed had he not been shot’.
I’m not going to get into the story much more than that, too many topic spoilers! But I did love the slight change (I still don’t think it’s technically “sci-fi rather than horror”), I loved the nods to the previous books (the car from ‘Christine’, the kids from ‘It’) and if you’re looking for classic Stephen King horror, it’s definitely in there.
I also bought ‘The Stand’ – I genuinely think this is the greatest book of its generation, beyond being the best of Stephen King’s. It will be interesting going back through something I enjoyed so many years ago to see how I approach it now.