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Campfire Chat #2: And… Sleeep.

Big thank you’s to Hayley Merrick for the factoid that Mr. Stephen King is set to release a sequel to The Shining.  You can hear Stephen read a chapter from the book, which is titled Doctor Sleep, in the video below.  It sounds pretty interesting – this is the first time that he’s revisited a book so long after it was originally published, and I’m glad that he’s getting back to Danny Torrence’s story.  Poor kid.

Anyway, that’s enough distraction – watch the vid, he’s a great reader, you don’t even need to watch, just listen.  It’s glorious.  I should really get back to my assignment (procrastination, thy name is Blog).

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Oh, bondage… up yours!

Gerald’s Game

King, Stephen

BCA (by arrangement with Hodder and Stoughton), 1992

There is a certain talent to setting yourself limits.  Stephen King is probably most well-known for his epic stuff – The Stand, the Dark Tower cycle, and other books where there is lots going on, either in lots of different places or with lots of different people.  Gerald’s Game is the opposite.  There are really only two characters who are fleshed out to any great degree (not counting the dog), and only one real setting.  There are remembered characters and settings, but none of these occur concurrently with the events of the novel.

The story begins with Gerald and Jessie Burlingame gettin’ frisky at their holiday home at the lake.  Given that I read Bag of Bones probably about two months before I started reading Gerald’s Game, that there was a little deja vu-ish for my taste.  Granted, you read enough of any author, you start to see the zipper in the back of the costume, so to speak.   Anyway, specifically the form that their friskiness takes is some mid-range bondage – up from scarves, down from pretzelling yourself into fancy knots; so, handcuffs, which Gerald has obtained from a courtroom associate.  Jessie’s not wildly keen about them, but will take any sex with Gerald that she can get.  So far, so rote.  Unfortunately for Jessie, her day gets worse when Gerald has a massive heart attack, and has the ill grace to perish on the bedroom floor with her still handcuffed to the bedposts.  That’s really as much as I can tell you (it’s nothing that you couldn’t get off the front flap anyway – albeit, minus the sarcasm) without giving the rest of the story away, so if you think you might read this book, stop now, ’cause after this, here be spoilers.
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The Guts and the Gory

Haunted: a novel of stories

Palahniuk, Chuck

Vantage, 2006

ISBN 9780099458371

Oh, Chuck.  Where did we go wrong, honey?  Once, your words were like a soothing balm of awesome to my eyes.  Now, I feel slightly meh’d.  Believe me, it’s not you.  But then again, it’s not me either.  It’s Haunted.

This had all the makings of a fantastic read – the parental advisory on the front cover, reports of fainting (fainting!) when one of the stories was read by Chuck at a Borders somewhere on a book tour.  I’m still slightly amazed by that, there must have been some seriously weak-stomached people (or maybe just people with seriously great imaginations) in the audience.  For some reason, I could never find Haunted in a bookstore here at Earth’s End, so I purchased a copy over the interwebs, no big thing.  It’s not on the database of items which freaked the Censor’s Office out (though hilariously, there is a video called ‘My Ass is Haunted’ in there – somehow, I don’t think they’re talking about a donkey there), so who knows where it got to.  Anyway,  it’s weird, I got to nearly half way, bottled out of reading the rest a few weeks ago, but for some reason picked it up again over the weekend.  It’s good writing, the premise is solid… but… but… something is missing.

Like a lot of people, I came to Chuck Palahniuk’s writing after Fight Club (the movie) came out.  The movie was great – I adore Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham-Carter, and that other guy isn’t so bad either – but the book is… genius.  And, okay, I know this happens all the time, but the book is actually loads more deep than you’d ever credit from the movie alone.  For a fairly slim volume (it’s almost a novella), it packs a big punch; aside from the twist in the tail, there is a lot to think about in Fight Club – serious stuff, things like the massive gap between the working poor and the classes above them, things relating to the way men and women see the world differently, and about how the ‘button down world’ of late capitalism cannot scratch every itch.  I guess you could equate Fight Club in some ways to Trainspotting – same kind of feeling around the edges, the characters all in search of something intangable which the society in which they live is no longer capable of providing, and everyone in that society is at a loss to explain exactly where it went.  Phew, that was a long sentence.

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Versus Battle 1: Poe v. King

Ladies and Gentlemen, roll right up for the first of the Versus Battles!  Tonight, an all-time heavyweight of the American literary circuit, Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination dukes it out with the welterweight champion of the best-seller lists, Nightmares and Dreamscapes by your friend and mine, Mr. Stephen King!

Note: This is kind of my cheap way of getting two books done for the price of one.  I kind of think it might be interesting to do a little compare and contrast with authors from different periods who go in for the same kind of things – subject matter, style, etcetera.  And yes, I do know that it’s very unlikely that you’d ever see a heavyweight box a welterweight, and think that it’s probably even against every boxing rule known to man, but let me see how far I can take this reference, okay?  Good.  On with the show!

The Weigh-in:

Poe’s volume (at least, the edition that I have, which is the Galley Press edition of 1987, part of the “Golden Heritage Classics series”) stands at 28 stories, 446 pages of maybe 8-point serif font.  I have to guess that much, because there’s no handy ‘this edition published in 8-point such-and-thus font.  So this is turning into a bit of a bare-knuckle anything goes kind of fight anyway, what with the weight estimations and all, but again, lets see how long we can string this along, eh, cublings?  The ISBN for this edition is 0861366522.

King’s book, which is the BCA edition, published in 1993, stands at 23 tales, and runs to 569 pages (I’m subtracting the intro and the author’s note at the end, although those things are always worth reading in King’s books, as much for the jocular style as anything else).  The ISBN… it doesn’t have one.  Which is probably because it’s a reprint… if any of you cublings knows more than Mama Wolf, send me a comment… it’s got a CN number, but that’s Library of Congress cataloguing… isn’t it?  Hmn.  Come on, cublings, help a sister out… Read the rest of this entry