Hodder and Stoughton, 1991
ISBN: 0 450 57458 X
Hey cublings – after quite the hiatus, I’m back to the blogging, and badderer than ever. Suffice to say, I thought I’d start gentle and then work my way up (or down, as the case may be) to the other stuff that I’ve been reading over the past… oooh. That long, huh?
Needful Things is a weird one. It’s part of Steven King’s Castle Rock oevre, that famously infamous township in Maine which is an amalgam of Rockwellian imagery, Orwellian politicing, and Lovecraftian beasties lurking just below the surface. In true King style, most of the beasties are lurking in human form, but Needful Things has a few notable exceptions to this rule.
Being part of the Castle Rock group there are certain recurrances that pop up – actually that’s not even just true of the Castle Rock novels, but of King’s work in general. I’d like to think that I’ve read enough of his stuff by now (a fact that this blog will attest to) to see the seams on the monster suit. Alan Pangbourne is referenced in other places, and also references in his turn, events in Cujo and in The Dark Half as well. Alan Pangborne is such a godamn likeable character, its always one of those moments which makes the teeny writer inside of me shrivel up and die a little bit inside, just marvelling at the creation. But I digress – it’s not just Alan who is showing up like a bad penny; Leland Gaunt has more than a passing resemblance to that bad-guy-to-beat-all-bad-guys Randall Flagg from The Stand and Eyes of the Dragon, and ol’ Buster Keaton also resembles “Big” Jim Rennie from Under the Dome. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head, as well – there have got to be more out there.
Brian Rusk is the first character who sets foot in the new store in town, Needful Things (“Funny name for a store” one of the characters remarks – suspicious name for a store, says I); he’s a young lad with a slight speech impediment, a little-kid crush on his speech therapy teacher, and an avid collector of baseball cards. Baseball is one of those things that keeps cropping up in King’s work, much like the little towns in Maine. He’s written a whole book on baseball – I haven’t read it, given that I have little understanding and less interest in the sport, but I hear it’s pretty good.
Hodder and Staughton, 1983
ISBN: 0450 056740
Welcome to 2012, cublings! Hopefully you are all recovered from any time spent with relations over Christmas and New Year (or any other holiday you might have had forced upon you), and your new years resolutions are listed on your fridge getting frantically ignored. I thought that I’d kick off the book club this year by writing about one of my old favourites, Christine, by Stephen King.
I know that my taste runs to the schlocky end of the spectrum. I’ve embraced that. So, it stands to reason that I should like this book. I mean, you can tell from the first lines on the blurby bit on the back of this book that it’s going to be a treat for the low brow, it goes something like ‘Christine was burrowing into his brain, his subconcience…’ Brilliant, right? I mean, it sounds like the by-line to a Hammer horror or something about brain-parasites or body snatchers. Maybe it’s somehow significant that it is dedicated to George Romero, the director of many brilliant (and Godawful) horror films, not the least the movie Creepshow. Before you ask, no, I’ve never seen the film version of Christine, I’m a bit loathe to, but as usual, willing to take a well placed hint if anyone out there thinks it’s a bit special (or a bit septic, I’m open to either option – having watched The Pillow Book recently, I need something that will blot some of the amount of times I have now seen Ewan McGregor’s…er…zones… out of my head.)
I’m just going to pop this out in the open right now. Ever since I first read it at the tender age of about thirteen, Jane Eyre has been my favourite books. But this post is going to be mostly about the movie, which I saw today.
It’s always dangerous, isn’t it? Going to see the movie of a book that you can recite large passages out of, or that you relate strongly to one (or some) of the characters. To be honest, if I wasn’t so impressed with the cast of this particular version of the story, then there is no way I would have gone to see it. No way. But… Judi Dench! Michael Fassbender! I haven’t seen much of Mia Wasikowska’s oeuvre – sadly, she is the weakest link for me, I didn’t really like her in Alice in Wonderland, or in Defiance, but I’m trying to put that aside and see how I go. But having said that, visually she’s a good choice for Jane, I think. Not horrible looking, just pale and weird-looking (in a nice way). Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers I’m having a slightly difficult time imagining too, but again, I’ll see how I go.
I’m really interested in how they handle some of the more brutal elements in the story – the scene in the church, the crossing the moors in the darkness, St. John’s proposal, the fire. As usual, all the nasty stuff. The treatment of Adele will be quite interesting too (Jane bonds with her so strongly in the book that the chemistry between the two actresses will be very important).
There’s a strong class struggle in Jane Eyre as well – Jane constantly wonders at Rochester, because she thinks she can bring nothing to their union (well, not money or title, anyway). So that will be interesting. I’m going with my Lad, against his will, I might add (though I’ve been to see Transformers 3 with him, so he kind of owes me), so I’ll be interested to see if he enjoys it or not. Be warned, that if you’re thinking of seeing Jane Eyre there are some spoilers after this jump. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I’ve begun using Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (1999, Vintage, ISBN:9780749336509) as a barometer of potential friendships. I have a friend who uses the series Black Books, which she loans to people she isn’t sure of to assess whether they’d be good friend material. That seems to work well for her, so I have decided to use Trainspotting. It might not be totally accurate, but like Sex Panther cologne, 60% of the time, it works 100% of the time. And if you haven’t seen the film Anchorman, you really should, even if only to get that reference. I’ve owned three copies of Trainspotting since I bought my first one when I was eighteen; not because I am such a fool as to go around flinging my money at publishers, but because I keep loaning it to people who leave it on buses.
Anyway, Trainspotting began life as a series of short stories in various publications. Of course, most people know it from the movie, but honestly the movie does no justice at all to the depth of storytelling and character development in the work itself. I guess the movie is pretty visceral in its way, but you’ve not experienced the amount of horror and humour which Welsh combines in the short stories. Plus, they’re all told with different perspectives, with literally different voices, which is pretty amazing. You can even hear in your minds’ ear the differences in accent between character, which proves to me that it’s not just a gimmick. For example, Diane in the storyThe First Shag in Ages says ‘not’ when she’s talking to her parents (as in “Mark’s not interested in that”, at the bottom of page 147). Other characters say ‘no’ and other variations as they see fit (it’s all the same word – to paraphrase Francis Begbie, can you not understand the Queens’ English?). It’s real subtle and cleverly done, often to indicate stress, education level, all sorts of stuff. My particular favourite example of this is when Renton is rabbiting on about Kirkegaard at the sentencing judge when he and Spud are being tried for stealing books – he goes all proper-sounding, and then flicks back to his usual ‘voice’ when they’re in the pub afterward. There’s even regional accent indications as well, with Mark Renton’s family from Glasgow written in their own vernacular to the main cast of Edinburghites. Edinburghians? Whatever, people from Edinburgh, already! Sheesh!