Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chicken Out a la King

I couldn't resist going with the pun for the post title, though I wouldn't say I'm exactly chickening out. I did start to listen to The Gunslinger, though, and I am going to stop listening to it now.

I never read any Stephen King till after college. One day I just realized I'd never read any, and I thought, what the heck. So I checked out a couple. I started with the old stuff, which was a good move on my part, and I enjoyed a lot of them. I even have a couple of favorites--I really loved The Stand, Salem's Lot, and Pet Sematary. A lot more of them I liked but didn't love--Needful Things, It, The Dead Zone. Overall, a good ride.

But then, I sort of got caught up with what he's been writing lately, and woah, Nellie, does that man need an editor. Thousands of pages, not to tell sweeping epics, but to describe every single thing in minute detail. I'm not even going to go into it here, because it makes me tired just thinking about it.

Unfortunately, he still tells a good story, and I really kind of want to read Under the Dome.

But The Gunslinger, this is old stuff. This is from his heyday (did I use that right? Heyday?), and it should be tighter, it should be better storytelling.

Sadly, I'm just not loving it. It's not just horrifying--though there is something especially horrifying in listening to his lingering descriptions of gore being read out loud. It's also kind of boring. I'm about 15% of the way into the book, and all I know is that the Protagonist is chasing the Antagonist through a wasteland that's turned into desert, and that something bad happened in a small town that involved the Antagonist reanimating a dead guy. That's literally everything I know about the story. Oh, except that it's dry, and there's grass, and everyone is craggy and sullen and amoral and mean and that there's no beauty in the world, and little water.

I'm tired of it. I think I'm getting too old for this stuff. I feel like a big mope. I need a good audiobook. I'm taking nominations.


JMLC said...

I loved the gunslinger series but then again, I read it in high school. My husband loved the series and he read it more recently which means he's read the whole thing- I only read up through what was printed by 1994/95.

I always love Bill Bryson's stuff on audiobook- it might be a nice contrast to all that gore.

Jason said...

The first book "The Gunslinger" is actually the weakest book in the series. He published it serially, and it has a markedly different tone. I've tried to re-read it and never made it through. It's dead-serious Clint Eastwood fan fiction where the writer is so invested in the tropes of the genre and world-building that he completely forgets about character.

If you can stomach it, though, you should really grab a copy of the 2nd book "The Drawing of the Three". It's been forever since I read it, but I still have a really warm spot in my heart for it. He shifts up the POV to more identifiable characters and softens Roland. It's much more readable and has a nifty parallel universe plot.

Just out of curiosity: what version of the Gunslinger did you read? I've only ever read the original, but I know that Stephen King revised it and re-released it to be more in tone with the rest of the series.