Fine read Oct 17, 2013
While admitting he has written several books that became cracker jack movies, I admit I am not a Stephen King fan. Decades ago I tried one of his books---I forget which---found it unreadable and have not gone back.
Until now. For which I thank The Slickster. She made the recommendation and she has found so many of my favorite writers on her own or enjoyed them at my suggestion I decided to follow her advice. Good decision on my part.
Part of the book's appeal, I warn you, is that it starts about the time I started to become aware of the world, about the time I started to have memories. He progresses through my college time, missing my exact years by one. Playing cards figures strongly here, and while the game is different, cards were a big part of my college days, as well as for about a decade afterwards.
King describes the mood of the periods he covers, and it is not a surprize his college days were spent at the same time mine were, and not far away from where I was. His description of how Viet Nam seemed to many of those who participated resonates, a thing I know because a few who were there have confided in me, to my great honor, and because a few of the more driven have written about their experiences.
Starting as a bildungsroman and progressing to later life for different characters, the story lines converge in odd ways. Suitably, parts of the book incorporate a soupcon of the super-normal. We accept it, as we accept that Shane is good with a gun or that people can change, a concept strongly underlined by the presence of "Lord of the Flies" throughout much of the book. Indeed, part of the appeal is the reference and homage paid to the 'classical' novels we used to read in high school: "Lord of the Flies", "A Separate Peace", "Catcher in the Rye", "1984", "Brave New World", "Of Mice and Men' and so on. If these were not your generation's books, that is fine. You will recognize your own books and movies here; you will recognize yourself.
The nature of courage, the force of addiction, the bonds formed when young, the difficulty of growing up, the phases of life all form threads throughout the book. "A different kind of novel" to quote The Slickster.