There's (possibly) a big ol' spoiler coming if you haven't.
I did see Billion Dollar Baby. The weekend that itHave you ever seen Billion Dollar Baby?
There's (possibly) a big ol' spoiler coming if you haven't.
I did see Billion Dollar Baby. The weekend that it opened. I saw it then because I am a huge fan of Clint Eastwood and tend to immediately see everything he releases. Seeing it so early, though, created quite a shocker in my head because all I knew about the movie was that it was about boxing and that it starred that girl who played the girl who pretended to be a boy. About halfway through the movie, that girl hits her head on a chair and becomes paralyzed and now we're watching a whole different movie. Turns out that the movie is, ultimately, not about boxing.
What does Billion Dollar Baby have to do with this remarkable debut? Let's just say that The Universe Versus Alex Woods turns out to not be the story of a weird kid who gets hit by a meteorite. ...more
I feel the need to justify my three-star review of this novel because I really do like this installment more than my three stars would lead you to belI feel the need to justify my three-star review of this novel because I really do like this installment more than my three stars would lead you to believe.
There may be spoilers coming... be warned!
I have to think of this novel in terms of its placement in the grand saga of The Dark Tower as a whole. To that end, I have to ask one question after finishing it: Did it push the saga forward?
And the answer, sadly, is no. No, it does not.
As a prequel, as an installment that happens long before the first book begins, it's a 4-star installment. As a continuation, it is sadly lacking. Of the novels seven hundred pages, only about two hundred of it is devoted to Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy -- or the progression of the ka-tet. And in that two hundred pages...virtually nothing happens. Yes, they encounter a thinny. Yes, they finally kill The Tick-Tock Man. And yes, they actually defeat Blaine.
But thinnies are described completely and thoroughly in Roland's flashback. The Tick-Tock Man could have been killed at the end of The Waste Lands if King hadn't, for reasons known only to him, decided to continue with him for a mere twenty pages or so. And the defeat of Blaine is, in my opinion, somewhat anti-climactic.
The flashback section would have worked really well on its own. As a seperate novel. As a mere prequel. But shoved into the middle of two hundred pages of nothing, and being as mind-blowingly awesome as it is, only serves to make a reader realize that the ka-tet portion of this book is a big waste of time. More pages should have been devoted to the defeat of the Tick-Tock Man. The defeat of Blaine should have been more suspenseful, more pulse-pounding, more worth waiting for. As it stands, it's kind of a cheat.
King has a tendency in some of his best work to really let me down in the ending. Under The Dome comes to mind. If King had excised two hundred pages from the beginning of the novel, he would have had more pages to flesh out what might have been a more thought-provoking conclusion. Wizard and Glass falls victim to this phenomena as well. If King had spent fewer pages in Roland's past, then more time could have been spent on the action that actually fleshes out the ongoing story.
I really love the flashback section. Roland's history is very rich and unexpected, and King does a nice job of drawing suspense and emotional impact from events that we already know are going to happen (based on hints given in the previous books). This section of the book is, however, overwritten, overlong, and over after it should have been.
If this book had been a stand-alone prequel, I could justify four stars. Its length kills that fifth star.
As it stands, it's only a three-star effort. And shouldn't have been. ...more
This novel made me very nostalgic. And it created conflicting memories.
I can recall reading this novel when it was first released. It was a massive haThis novel made me very nostalgic. And it created conflicting memories.
I can recall reading this novel when it was first released. It was a massive hardback that I had gotten from the library. I had taken it to my father’s house for a Christmas visit. My father and I got into an argument about Stephen King while I was there. To be fair, it was an argument about my mother, really. Dad was furious that I was being allowed to read Stephen King. To my father, my love for King’s work, my devouring of his novels, revealed a deficiency in my mother’s parenting skills. “If you had lived with me after the divorce,” he claimed, “you would not be reading Stephen King.” Over the years, we would have similar conversations about a handful of R-rated movies and the music of AC/DC.
Anyway…the memory conflicts because I remember being in my mother’s house when I got to the part where Jack is drawn through The Speaking Ring. I lived, at the time, in a creaky, old farmhouse with my mother and stepfather. King’s description of the creaky, old house, you know, COMING ALIVE! and TRYING TO EAT THE KID! really freaked me out. I recall going downstairs and watching television with my mother after reading that chapter because I just simply could not sit upstairs in our creaky, old farmhouse alone.
How I could have been in both houses while reading the same book I will never know, but both memories stand. I concede that it’s possible that Dad and I argued over a different Stephen King novel, but I also remember having a conversation with his stepson about Shardik and how it was a reference to Richard Adams. The stepson and I both were (and are) big fans of Watership Down.
(Incidentally, I also remember throwing this book across the room the first time I finished it because I was utterly hooked and Stephen King had the temerity to end the whole thing in the middle of a damn sentence. Is that a spoiler? Possibly. Let’s consider it more of a warning, though. A warning not to finish this novel unless you have a copy of Wizard and Glass immediately at hand.)
With all of that said, The Waste Lands is in my top 5 favorite Stephen King novels ever because of that creepy sequence in the old house. The image of the walls coming alive. The grotesque, giant spiders. The Plaster Man chasing Jake and almost eating him. Jake dropping the goddamn key (idiot!). The demon having his way with Susannah (or was it the other way around?). Drawn doors becoming honest-to-goodness actual holy shit working fucking doors in the sand. Wow. That whole sequence scared the shit out of me when I was a teenager. It kinda gave me the heebie jeebies a bit when I reread it as an adult. Thinking about it now makes me shiver a little.
But it isn’t just the drawing of Jake that makes this book so memorable. It’s really only getting started there. Page for page, this is one of the most concisely-plotted books in Stephen King’s ouevre. Jake’s drawing, the bridge crossing, the demonic denizens in the town of Lud, Blaine. Oh, my God! I’ll never forget Blaine.
The Waste Lands is where, for me, The Dark Tower series really takes off. ...more
I haven’t read this book since shortly before the third installment was initially released. And I was only enticed to do so then by my stepbrother, whI haven’t read this book since shortly before the third installment was initially released. And I was only enticed to do so then by my stepbrother, who is also an ardent admirer of Stephen King’s work. He had just read The Waste Lands and wanted someone to talk about it with. For my part, I wasn’t much interested, not having been a fan of The Gunslinger in the first place. Eventually, though, Daniel convinced me to continue. Partly so that Daniel would leave me alone. He was kind of pushy about it.
If I never thanked Daniel for the recommendation, I thank him now, because I loved this book back then. For years, I told people that it was my favorite installment in the whole series.
On a reread, I don’t believe that this is necessarily the case anymore (I fervently love The Waste Lands, but my love for it still stands. It was nice to reread it and recall it and relearn everything I had forgotten (I have learned over the years that I am probably going to have to read any book I really admire a second time because I don’t always comprehend the things I read. I read so much, so quickly, that it all kind of blends together in the end). It turns out that there was an awful lot of things in this book I had forgotten. In addition to having forgotten key elements of the novel, I also realized that there are key elements of the entire series that I had forgotten took place in this particular installment.
For years, I had accused Uncle Stevie of not really knowing where this series was going, of flying by the seat of his pants, of making it up as he goes along, but there is plenty of evidence in this novel that, if he didn’t have things mapped out (and somehow, I doubt he did), he, at least, had the decency and respect for his Constant Reader to not have forgotten what he had already done.
One thing I had forgotten that blew me away: the identity of the third person drawn. For years, I had remembered it being Jake. It turns out that it was Jack Mort and I can’t believe I had forgotten that. The Jack Mort section of this book is a highlight. But there are others: Eddie’s naked gunfight with Enrico Balazar, King allowing his own hero to be so irrevocably injured in the first few pages, the merging of Odetta Holmes and Detta Walker into Susannah Dean. This whole novel is classic King.
An absolute must-read even if The Gunslinger is not. ...more
Why is this considered one of Dickens' least-read novels? Of all the ones I have read so far, this one might be my favorite.
There's some deliciously bWhy is this considered one of Dickens' least-read novels? Of all the ones I have read so far, this one might be my favorite.
There's some deliciously beautiful writing in this novel. The riot sequence is harrowing and the prison fire is borderline heart-stopping. One can feel the flames burning up the pages as they flip by.
Oddly, I had some minor disappointment that our hero survives the end. His death would have taught some valuable lessons to characters who need to desperately learn them, but this is a minor fault. By the time this occurred to me, I had been irrevocably swept away. ...more
I tracked this novel down because a review I read compared it to David Foster Wallace, an author that I admire more than I can possibly put into wordsI tracked this novel down because a review I read compared it to David Foster Wallace, an author that I admire more than I can possibly put into words.
While I do not think that Fiona Maazel's writing style has much in common with the writing style with the style of the late, great DFW, I can say, irrevocably, that I believe that David Foster Wallace would have loved this novel and would have recommended it very, very highly.
I need to find someone else who has read this novel so that we can sit down and have a nice, long discussion about it. This novel, so much more than tI need to find someone else who has read this novel so that we can sit down and have a nice, long discussion about it. This novel, so much more than the other Dickens' novels I've completed so far, seems to have an awful lot to discuss. I have my own theories about the sentimentality of its ending.
I faulted the last one I read (Nicholas Nickleby for being meandering. This one, too, meanders, but I'm not as annoyed by it. Why am I so forgiving to this novel when I'm less so for the previous one? Perhaps it's because I found the characters far more compelling (Kit, the mannish Sally Brass, the totally irreverent Dick Swiveler, the utterly [and delightfully] demonic Daniel Quilp). Maybe it's because there is so much in this story that I found I could personally relate to (loving your father despite his flaws, deciding to be who you are no matter how anyone else feels about it, deciding that you want to love who you want to love no matter how anyone else feels about it, accepting that your life is what it is and cannot be changed).
It's interesting to me that the first lines of this novel's introduction state that The Old Curiosity shop is one of those novels that everyone knows something about whether they have read it or not. Well, this is the ONLY book on Dickens' list of novels that I had never heard of before. No previous knowledge or conceptions led to it being the first one I have read since The Pickwick Papers that I truly, without question, enjoyed....more
I feel like I should give this novel more than three stars because I really did, in the end, like it a great deal.
But I don't think the execution ofI feel like I should give this novel more than three stars because I really did, in the end, like it a great deal.
But I don't think the execution of its premise is as stream-lined as it ought to be. It comes off as being kind of pointlessly quirky and weird for the sake of being kind of pointlessly quirky and weird for a good long while.
In the end, once it all comes together, and just what this novel is about becomes clear, it's distinctly worth more than three stars. But I dock those stars because my enjoyment of the final product is a fluke. This novel is so pointlessly weird and quirky that I almost didn't finish it. ...more
A dear friend of mine got into a very self-righteous huff when I announced on my Facebook page that I planned to read all of Charles Dickens' novels iA dear friend of mine got into a very self-righteous huff when I announced on my Facebook page that I planned to read all of Charles Dickens' novels in 2013. And, I mean, he seriously tore into me.
He went on and on about how pointlessly wordy Dickens' novels are. He said that he believed that he could trim all of this brillaint writer's works down to 75 pages without losing one iota of essence of the story. He also said that he had a couple of Dickens' novels that had been subsequently destroyed because he threw them against a wall. "Such loquaciousness," he opined, "should not be legally allowed to exist."
This rant amused me, partly because "loquaciousness" is such a Dickensian word!
At any rate, I have to admit that I am, in regards to Nicholas Nickleby, inclined to agree with my friend this time around. Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed this novel. I was surprised by a couple of its myriad twists. I loved lovedloved the myriad characters (especially Smyke and the delightfully droll Cheeryble twins). But there are long sections of this book that ultimately serve no purpose other than to fill out pages for the initial serialization.
Nicholas Nickleby is an engaging novel that could stand to lose a couple hundred pounds. ...more