Friday, November 20, 2009

Book 34: The Dark Tower by Stephen King

This is for Tim Taylor who will be outraged by the inclusion of anything written by this 'ferocious hack' on a Best Books list.

I can't say that I fully disagree with him either. But that doesn't stop me from loving his books.

'The Dark Tower' is a sprawling 7 book fantasy that straddles two worlds and seems to be cobbled together from memories of black and white westerns and reading 'Lord of the Rings' by flashlight under a blanket.

To give you an idea how much I love this series, I've read it 4 times. All 7 books. Do the math. 7X4=28.

He has better books. 'The Stand' and 'It' come to mind. But this one seems to mean more to him than any other. That intensity comes across and makes it his most personal work even as it is the most fanciful.

There is a kind of apologia inherent in singling King out for praise, as if he weren't worthy, as if the simplicity of his prose and our collective reaction to it were somehow a black mark on modern society. Or so the literati would say. And I count myself among them, cultivating my snobbish categories, looking down my nose at the Grishams, Browns, Binchys and Crichtons of the world.

But I loves me some Stephen King.

Oh he's put out some stinkers. You can almost smell the booze and cocaine while reading 'The Tommyknockers'. 'Pet Sematary' is almost unreadable. Even his best books have a kind of thinness to them. He opens with a few finely wrought sentences but soon he is swamped by the onrush of story and can barely get his pen out of the way fast enough to just let that shit happen.

So. Is Stephen King a great writer? Absolutely not.

Do I love his books? Some, not all.

This one is 7 novels, roughly 5,000 pages. I've read it 4 times. 20,000 pages. Sometimes you can't explain love. You just feel it.


Dan said...

I have to admit - after all those years of waiting, I was disappointed by the ending. Best volume? 'Wolves of the Challa' - should have a soundtrack by Morricone.

Brendan O'Malley said...

Hey Dan! Gotta disagree. Loved the fact, it is why I've gone back and re-read it. It opens it up to different interpretation each time. But I know there are a lot of folks who feel like you do.

Tim Ramick said...

Okay. I have an overdeveloped fondness for the novels of Thomas Mann. I've read The Magic Mountain three times, Buddenbrooks twice, Joseph and His Brothers twice, and Doctor Faustus twice. That's 6,800 pages of Mann. Plus some assorted novellas, stories and essays. Let's say 7,500 pages total. Golly. You're at 20,000 pages without including The Stand or Pet Sematary or It or The Tommyknockers or hades knows what all else of ferocious and vomitous hackness. I sit here utterly excruciated within my spiraling vertigo and I may never fully sleep again...