Wednesday, January 14, 2015

King Again

I'm not going to go on too long.  I know you've heard it before.  You've even heard before how you've heard it before.  But I can't read a Stephen King book without saying it again and again--get an editor, man!  I mean, if only because this short story (which is how it's billed) is 240 pages long.

So the book is called A Good Marriage, and there's nothing new here.  As always, the premise is interesting--a 40-something woman goes digging in her husband's workbench for batteries while he's out of town and discovers the driver's license of a woman who's on the news as a missing person.  That's almost all I know; it's pretty early on. 

Now, I've thought a lot about what I'd do in her situation, and I have to say, no offense to my wonderful husband, but I'd call the cops.  I mean, either he did it--which, I wouldn't believe that, but if it's true, you want that out of the way--or he didn't, in which case someone else put it there.  Someone's been in your house.  Seriously, ladydude, you need the police.

But I suspect this is going to turn into a mano-a-wife face off kind of thing, which would be more interesting if the only thing isolating her with the killer wasn't the fact that she's not going to the police.

All of this is guesswork so far, of course, and the fact that my guesswork and expectations are so annoying says a lot about how I feel about Stephen King at this point in my life. 

But what I really feel is Jesus man, you need to learn some new writerly tricks.  Because I'm so tired of the random catchphrase that someone remembers at an inopportune moment that then keeps flashing through their head at odd, punctuating junctures.  I'm very tired of how, in trying to make his characters normal, he makes them seem boring, as though the inner lives of the people around us were as pedestrian as their outsides appear.  Or maybe more to the point, I'm annoyed with how his women always have this non-person feeling to them, this uncomplicatedness, whether they're being heroic or victimy.

I don't know why I still pick these up.  I blame The Stand, which was amazing, even if it had every single one of his problems, from Madonna/whore female characters to catchphrases to bloat.  Or, heck, maybe I'd hate that if I read it now; maybe I've outgrown him.  Either way, next time I reach for one of these, someone please stop me and hand me something by Sarah Waters, or Aliette de Bodard, or even Joe Hill.  Anything, really.  Thank you.

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