Wednesday, October 20, 2010
At long last!! Tommyknockers, by Stephen King- Review!!
He prefaced handing me the book with "the first 67 pages or so are really dry, but once you get past that it's good". Unfortunately it was more like the first 150-190 pages, sooo the equivalent of a novella worth of mind numbing boredom. Leaving me once again contemplating why oh why no editor has ever sat Stephen King down and said - look dude, you're obviously a good writer, but we've got to curb some of you more diarrhetic verbiage, because nobody needs to wade through rambling thoughts from characters that don't have anything to do with the story for 150 pages.
Now I've read the entire Dark Tower series, The Stand, and his On Writing book, so Tommyknockers wasn't my intro to Stephen King or his verbose writing style. But it did take belated Thanksgiving dinner last weekend with 14 others to remind me the book was actually written during his obscene substance abuse years. Several people mentioned they thought he had said he couldn't remember writing it (because he was so high the whole time), and I did later read on wikipedia that he thought this novel was a metaphor for his addiction.
Bobbi Anderson, a writer of popular western novels, lives in the outskirts of the small town of Haven, with her beagle Peter, in a small house left to her by her uncle Frank many years before. While walking in the woods behind her place one afternoon, she stumbles on a piece of metal buried in the ground which captures her interest. Setting off a monumental, obsessive excavation of a space ship which will eventually involve her entire township and the destruction of everyone in it.
This was not my favorite Stephen King book, it had moments I really enjoyed, but they were so bogged down in useless blah blah blahing I eventually felt like I was drowning in his ramblings. Now part of this also has to do with the shear size of Kings novels, the one I was reading was written in 1987 and the hubbies copy was probably from the early nineties. This particular copy was a dictionary weight and size hardcover of 553 pages packed with the tiniest writing and the smallest margins you've ever seen, tightly spaced. I cringe to think of how many words were actually on each page, but to suffice it to say a modern printed paperback of the same book would likely have been closer to 1000 pages long. Now in a more readable book I could easily have cleared the word count in half the time Tommyknockers took me, hell the Stand took me less time and its a fair amount longer, but so much of the text was just a sticky mud of words not really going anywhere but taking up oddles of space and time.
My biggest complaint about the book is how the "becoming" of the villagers sucks all their personality out and leaves a story full of drones wandering around doing stuff. I think one of Kings real talents is character development, and his large cast books with many interesting personalities are what I've come to think of as his trademark. So it was disappointing to read a book so full of characters who only have personalities for a few pages before the alien air takes hold and they turn into these, not even particularly creepy, alien/drone hybrids.
But boy oh boy, Tommyknockers has a great ending! And in the past I've mocked Stephen Kings dislike of pre-planning his books, as the reason his books are good but his endings blow chunks. I mean how can someone rave about the talents of J.K Rowling and still think writing without a purpose "to see where the story takes him" is a good method?? Anyhow, it worked for him here, as many new characters streamed into the story, livening things up, and even the people of Haven were a little more enjoyable
Look even writing a review for Stephen King makes for epically long windedness!
Tommyknockers, By Stephen King
Published by Putnam Press, Nov 1987