indigozeal (indigozeal) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

#40: We might have to work the dark side.

0451167317I've lived in Maine for a while but have had only a passing acquaintance with Stephen King. I've driven by his house, at a family member's urging, and spotted King's corgi Marlowe on the front steps - whereupon the family dog decided to get into a barking war, Marlowe rushed the car, and Tabitha had to come out to retrieve him. But I'd never actually read a Stephen King book - so after viewing a Let's Play of a less-than-stellar King adaptation, I decided to rectify that.

You probably know the plot to The Dark Half: upscale novelist's wildly-successful pulp-trash alias is exposed, whereupon said novelist decides to bury his alter ego and never again write his violent, sleazy books. At the same time, however, a malevolent being who calls himself by said alias appears and starts slicing his way through the novelists' neighbors, coworkers, and friends. His demand? For the novels that were written in his name - that gave the author's dark half life - to be resumed.

It's hollow praise without examples (I brought the book back to the library; sorry), but King is indeed an talented wordsmith; he knows how to explore and illustrate his characters' inner thoughts with verbiage that's vivid and intelligent but not unnecessarily obfuscatory. From a local standpoint, it was fun to find parallels between King's Maine and the real-life state, oddities like how UMaine's English and math departments share a building. (I assume the real-life parallels of all the towns have been drawn by avid fans? I realize Derry = Bangor, but I'd like to know the rest.) One thing, though: while I was often disgusted by The Dark Half, I was seldom scared. I found the premise interesting and the imagery of the sparrows arresting, but the slasher execution rather lacking. The pacing is also problematic (the middle's a big stall), and King finds ashcan characters and abusive alcoholics considerably more fascinating than I do. (Not everyone in Maine talks like they're from Dogpatch by way of Tarantino.) I also thought the decision to prioritize the relationship between the protagonist and the investigating sheriff was curious considering that the spotlight should be on the author's marriage and his wife's dawning discovery of the true nature of the man she married; treating her like a shrieking, useless ninny in the denouement was quite aggravating to me. I'd still like at least to try King's Dark Tower series, but from this outing, I don't think his pure horror is quite for me.
Tags: fiction, horror, nyt bestseller

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