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Tag: Stephen King

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King

“The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted.”

the-girl-who-loved-tom-gordon-by-stephen-king-L-1mbmQyThe Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a psychological thriller that centres around a nine year old girl – Trisha McFarland – that also has a baseball theme to it.

Yes, you heard that right – a BASEBALL theme.

But relax (those of you who don’t know anything about baseball or hate the sport) because aside from the chapter headings, a fictional player called Tom Gordon and a little bit of radio commentary, this novel is just a good old fashioned ‘girl-gets-lost-in-the-woods-story.’

King informs the reader of this fact in the opening paragraph,

“At o’clock on a morning in early July she was sitting in the back seat of her mother’s Dodge Caravan, wearing her Red Sox batting practice jersey (the one with 36 GORDON on the back) and playing with Mona, her doll. At ten thirty she was lost in the woods.” (p.3)

Trisha, who is on a day out with her mother and brother wanders off the main trail in search of a tree to have a pee… Well you know the rest!

NEVER WANDER OFF THE GODDAMN TRAIL!!!

If you’ve ever been in the woods, then you’ll be familiar with the way it can play tricks on the mind. You may think you are walking in a straight line, but in actual fact you’ve just done a 360 and end up where you started. King captures the characteristics of the forest brilliantly.

The Sounds, The Dark Shadows and The Thing that watches from within:

“The dead trees began to look less and less like trees and more and more like gaunt sentinels standing with their gnarled feet in the still black water. Be seeing faces in them again pretty soon, she thought.” (P.136)

As Trisha struggles through the forest, night after night, the lines between reality and tricks of the mind become blurred. In typical King fashion little voices of doubt begin to creep into Trisha’s consciousness:

“It’s a special thing Trisha – the thing that waits for the lost ones. It lets them wander until they’re good and scared -because fear makes them taste better, it sweetens the flesh – and then it comes for them. You’ll see it. It’ll come out of the trees any minute now. A matter of seconds, really. And when you see its face you’ll go insane.” (p.110)

imgresOn her walkman she can listen to the Red Sox commentary, and seek advice from her favourite player Tom Gordon who materialises as part of her imagination.

Or is it? Can Trisha keep her grip on reality long enough to escape the forest?

These are the questions that kept me reading right to the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed  The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It’s short with a simple plot and has hardly any characters which makes this an easy read.

Does Trisha make it out? Why not grab a copy, relax, get lost in the woods and find out for yourself.

What did you think of the novel? As always Literature Fiend would love to hear any discussions points, or suggestions for further reading. Please contact us, or leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you. 

 

 

 

Cujo by Stephen King

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“He suddenly understood that THE MAN had made him sick.”

I watched a Stephen King interview once, in which he said that Cujo didn’t turn out the way he wanted. This is the Fourth Stephen King novel reviewed this year on literaturefiend and certainly isn’t one of the best.

There are a number of problems in this novel that constrict the reading experience. Cujo is written as one continuous narrative, which I don’t think worked well at all.

I think the film version of Cujo worked very well. I mean who can forget that image of the huge St Bernard Dog covered in blood!

The main part of the novel – and the best part – focuses on Donna and Tad Trenton (Mother and Son) who become trapped in their old Ford Pinto with Cujo waiting to rip them apart.

These sections of the novel made me feel on edge, and I felt their pain of being trapped in a small space with the unbearable heat from the sun beating down on them.

In fact all the sections of the narrative with Cujo were excellent: the build-up as he gets bitten by the rabid bat, the way Cujo battles to keep the rabies at bay; the fact that Cujo can’t understand why he is feeling so agitated and angry, all add to the compassion I felt towards the dog.

The subplots were very tedious.  The world of Victor Trenton – who co-owns a advertising company – is boring as we’re told about their campaign for ‘Sharp cereals’ or something. This is the reason why Victor leaves his wife and child alone (to go on a business trip), so I can see this as a device from King to make the main plot more plausible but it just went on and on and on and on…

About halfway through I began to skim read the sections that didn’t relate to Cujo. I didn’t loose anything from adopting this method, but it really diluted the reading experience. If the subplots were shorter it would’ve made for a really enjoyable novella, rather than an overworked novel.

The way King portrayed the workings of Cujo’s mind is brilliant. As a reader it makes you feel sorry for Cujo, as he can no longer control the advancement of the rabies virus. King highlights this at the end of the novel when he writes:

“He [Cujo] had tried to do all the things his MAN and his WOMAN, and most of all his BOY, had asked or expected of him. He would have died for them, if that had been required. He had never wanted to kill anybody. He had been struck by something, possibly destiny, or fate, or only a degenerative nerve disease called rabies. Free will was not a factor” (p.420)

cujo2In the ‘Iconic Terror’ editions by Hodder Press, King writes an introduction on each novel and there isn’t one about Cujo.  This is the only novel King – a recovering alcohol and drug addict –  can’t remember writing, and probably one from a period of his life he’d rather forget.

That said, the novel is worth a read, if only for Cujo’s split personality (pre and post rabies) and the unexpected ending.

Section that Stayed 

This section shows how powerful and dangerous Cujo is once the rabies has taken hold:

“With a speed and agility that was terrifying, the big dog changed direction and came at the car. The awkward stagger was gone now, as if it had been nothing but a sly act all along. It was roaring and bellowing rather than barking. Its red eyes burned. It struck the car with a hard, dull crunch and rebounded – with stunned eyes, Donna saw that the side of her door was actually bowed in a bit.” (p. 285)

What did you think of the novel? As always Literature Fiend would love to hear any discussions points, or suggestions for further reading. Please contact us, or leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you. 

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

“Sometimes dead is better”

Wow, Pet Semapet sematarytary by Stephen King really did live up to expectations. It’s scary as hell; personally the film also scared the crap outta me too.

In the introduction King writes:

‘When I’m asked (as I frequently am) what I consider to be the most frightening book I’ve ever written, the answer comes easily and with no hesitation: Pet Sematary.” (p.xi)

In fact the novel nearly wasn’t published, King continues:

“All I know is that Pet Sematary is the one I put away in a drawer, thinking I had finally gone too far” (p. xi)

Luckily for us, King had one book left on his Doubleday deal before he could leave,  and instead of writing something new, he sent them Pet Sematary.  

Now it’s being review by literaturefiend.

The novel follows Dr Louis Creed and family as they move into a new house in the small town of Ludlow. The house is on a main road and it isn’t long before Jud Crandall (a neighbor from across the road) warns the Creeds about the dangers of the passing trucks. Louis – whose father died when he was young – discovers a paternal connection with Jud. The role of the father is to protect, but it is Jud who shows Louis the Micmac burial ground which ultimately leads to the catastrophic events in this novel.

There is a path which leads from the Creed home to the Pet Sematary. This is a  lovely concept, started by the town’s children to bury their beloved pets; the majority of which killed on the road by oncoming trucks. Death is something all children must come to terms with and you really feel their innocence with little devices, such as the misspelled Pet Cemetery sign which has an “S” instead of “C”. Also I loved the handwritten grave markers with little messages from the children:

“TRIXIE, KILT ON THE HIGHWAY SEPT 15, 1968” and “HANNAH THE BEST DOG THAT EVER LIVED 1929-1939” (P. 38)

Things are no different for the young Ellie Creed who takes her first visit to the Pet Sematary (and experience of death) pretty hard. She has a beloved cat named Winston Churchill (or Church for short) who she would like to live forever.

“He’s my cat! He’s not God’s cat! Let God have his own cat! Let God have all the damn old cats He wants, and kill them all! Church is mine!”

When Ellie’s cat is killed by a trucchurchk,  Jud tells Louis about the Micmac burial ground which lies beyond the Pet Sematary.  This is a place of evil, a burial ground that somehow brings what is buried back to life – only when they return, they aren’t the same.

When Church returns King writes:

“The feel of the cat caused Louis to break out in gooseflesh, and he had to clench his teeth grimly to keep from kicking it away. Its furry sides felt somehow too slick, too thick – in a word, loathsome” (p. 162)

You get the idea right?

The book then gets even darker. Think of the horror, chasing your young son who is running towards the road, a speeding truck coming from the opposite direction. King explores this scenario when it happens to Gage Creed (Louis’ son); would you just accept it, or… exhume your sons grave, and bury him in a place where you know he’ll return?

Read it to see how it plays out…

The central theme of this novel focuses on coming to terms with grief and the loss of a loved one. There is Rachel Creed, haunted by the memory of her sister who suffered from spinal meningitis before her death; Pascow,  a young student who is killed by a truck on the main highway to mention a few.

I can see how Pet Sematary scared King, as much of it is based on personal experience. His own child Owen running for that main highway (thankfully King tackled him in time), his daughter’s cat Smucky flattened by a truck (thankfully, not coming back from the dead) and the real  Pet Sematary (thankfully, the burial ground beyond is fiction).

This all happened and I think it shows King’s creativity at its best. He certainly highlights the notion that “sometimes dead is better.”

Section that Stayed

A university student is brought into the campus surgery after being hit by a truck. The finality of this passage stayed with me throughout the whole novel.

“He was a young man, age approximately twenty, and it took Louis less than three seconds to make the only diagnosis that mattered: the young man was going to die. Half of his head was crushed. His neck had been broken. One collarbone jutted from his swelled and twisted right shoulder. From his head, blood and a yellow, pussy fluid seeped sluggishly into the carpet. Louis could see the man’s brain, whitish-gray and pulsing through a shattered section of his skull.”(p.70)

What did you think of the novel? As always Literature Fiend would love to hear any discussions points, or suggestions for further reading. Please contact us, or leave a comment below, it would be great to hear from you.  

Reading and Re-reading Stephen King in 2016

maxresdefaultIf you’re regular visitor to this blog then you’ll know how much I like Stephen King as a writer. I think he is a master storyteller who’s work will still be messing with the minds of readers way into the future. Recently, after an evening reading and watching interviews with King,  I came to realise that there are so many novel and short stories I’ve yet to read.

I’m ashamed to say that there are the ones like:  Firestarter, Christine and The Eyes of the Dragon that I’ve never heard of.

Not to mention the Dark Tower series.

I just never got around to reading it, not with the plethora of other Literature in the ethos. I think I missed these titles because King has been, and still is a prolific writer; with books splattering the high street before I was born and then consistently since (now I’m 32 by the way)

This idea prompted me to think about the more ‘well know titles.’ You know,  the ones that scared the hell out of you as a child (well, I was a child) like: Pet Sematary, The Shining, Carrie and Cujo.

Or the ones with the unforgettable characters: Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Stand by Me.

As I was thinking this over, it dawned on me that it was the films that I remembered from my childhood and not the King novels. I mean, I read some of them but the novel slash film blurs into one (FYI, it was called Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me was adapted from a short story called: The Body.)

To add insult to injury I read an interview where King said that out of all his novels, Liseys Story was the one he enjoyed most.

Well, this one must’ve slipped my radar too.

Right. This is no good I thought to myself; I’m going to read, or re-read a selection of King novels, as I don’t really know him as a writer. The film adaptations are the ones etched into my memory. Many of which according to King completely ignore the message of his novels.

Being born in 1982, means that I was -6 when Carrie was published. This was the novella that granted King the freedom to write full time. He certainly did that alright:  releasing 54 novels to date, hundreds of short stories and two books on the craft of writing.

So, I’ve been to the second hand bookshops.  I came back with: The Stand, Misery, Liseys Story and IT. 

That’s the story; for the first half of 2016, I’m going to get Kingafied.

 

If you have any suggestions or discussion points then get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Mercedes & Finders Keepers by Stephen King

For all you haters out there, I’m going to get this first part out of the way. Stephen King, deserves literary recognition of the highest order. Maybe not for his prose, but for pace and story – he is the master. Not to mention the wide range of genres he writes across.

 

For me,  it’s all about the test of time. And so far so good.

 

Mr Mercedes

tumblr_n1f260GpMe1rtynt1o3_1280.jpg 51bn5LZ3gcL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Anyway, on to Mr Mercedes.  This novel is based around the retired cop, Bill Hodges. I thought that it started off at a slow pace – perhaps that was just my mind frame at the time – and quickly introduced some likable characters.

Bill Hodges has nothing much to do, except sit at home in his la-Z-Boy and watch daytime TV. Until his only unsolved case comes back to haunt him; this enters Hodges into a game of cat and mouse with Brady Hartsfield.

The main villain in this novel, Brady Hartsfield is as sick and twisted as you’d expect from a King novel.  I really felt for King’s villain, while being repulsed at the same time.

Before I knew it, I was struggling to put this novel down and just like that – it was finished.

 

Pages: 405 (paperback version)

Rating: 7/10

 

Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers, is the second novel to this trilogy. After finishing Mr Mercedes on paperback, I rushed out 9781473698994_1to by the hardback of this novel.

I think that this second book was better than the first. Brady Hartsfield who was an integral part of Mr Mercedes takes a back seat for most of this book.

It was a great story that went back and forth from 1978 to 2014; which made for an interesting insight into the characters lives and gave the novel great depth.

It centers around a reclusive author – John Rothstein – and his private notebooks that are kept in his safe. These notebooks represent the power of obsession and the tragic consequences it can bring.

Finders Keepers was fast paced, and you get a brilliant surprise in the last few pages; which is going to make for a eerie third novel – I cannot wait to read this.

Unfortunately, I can’t rush out and buy the hardback as it isn’t released yet.

Hurry up Stephen!

Pages: 370 (Hardback version)

Rating: 8/10

 

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