One of King's least powerful works; I enjoyed the read very much but, upon finishing it, I felt as if I had just breezed through a short story ratherOne of King's least powerful works; I enjoyed the read very much but, upon finishing it, I felt as if I had just breezed through a short story rather than a novel--if only on grounds of the little I felt for the characters, what was happening, and the premise. The best thing this book offers is a strange connection to It which I really can't figure out....more
My first time through the tower--several years ago now--I felt that Waste Lands might be my least favorite of the series. I'm not entirely sure what iMy first time through the tower--several years ago now--I felt that Waste Lands might be my least favorite of the series. I'm not entirely sure what it was that made me feel that way, but I remember the read taking longer than the previous two books and not simply because it is marginally longer. There was something that didn't jive with me.
This time through, I found that book III is actually now my favorite of the first three books. Whereas the first book introduces us to Roland and some of the aspects of his world, and the second one introduces us to the first two members of Roland's new ka-tet, the third one introduces us to the entire mythology of the story--we learn of the beams, we discuss the tower, we see our rose. The guardians are discussed, and the Great Old Ones. Further, we meet one of our principal antagonists (though barely), and we get a glimpse of what Roland's world was like before it moved on. Roland, for the first time, becomes more than just a killer, he becomes a Gunslinger; at River's Crossing we see what further roles that entails, and how people properly respond to him. Connections begin springing up, not just between our characters but between King's other novels--we get a snatch of The Stand, we get a mirror of It--and the story moves from simply being an interesting story but THE story, the one which all King's other works simply support. It is in the Waste Lands that we begin to understand the weight of the journey Roland and his Ka-Tet are on; we start to understand what the Dark Tower is, if only vaguely.
It's this book that sets us up to fall in love with the entirety of the following books, whether slow going or breakneck, because it is here that we actually fall in love with our main protagonist and his band--something which is difficult in Gunslinger and Drawing of Three, where Roland is simply a hard, cruel man with cunning untempered by love.
So,as I'm about to dive right into book IV, I still don't understand what about this book put me off so the first time, but I know that I never want to stop re-reading, re-assessing, and trying to understand King's fantastic epic mythology....more
This collection contains what I believe to be King's greatest single short story, "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away", not to mention a Roland/DaThis collection contains what I believe to be King's greatest single short story, "All That You Love Will Be Carried Away", not to mention a Roland/Dark Tower story entitled "The Little Sisters of Eluria"....more
[writer's warning: this article is almost wholly concerned with comparing this work to the other work of Stephen King. Those not interested or well-re[writer's warning: this article is almost wholly concerned with comparing this work to the other work of Stephen King. Those not interested or well-read may want to skip it]
Upon my second read through of Desperation, I found myself pleasantly surprised—almost shocked. When I read the novel the first time (I assume it was somewhere between finding King in 1994 or ’95 and my high school years, when I first plowed through the bulk of his catalog), I was left feeling it was part of his (to me, at least) lamentable “middle period” which, I’m starting to realize, may or may not exist/be all that bad. Insomnia I still hold to be of that ‘period’ (it was published in 1994, around the time I started ‘It‘), and when I read that novel last (during my reading of the Dark Tower and associated books) I found it to be just as ill-gained as I had originally assumed—a mere foot note to the Tower.
Desperation, on the other hand, I found both capable and well composed, with its myriad view-points (a King touchstone I myself have been planning on trying out), unique characters (well, for the most part. I still feel that both Mary Jackson and her ill-fated husband Peter to be nearly inconsequential in the long run, to say nothing of Audrey Wyler’s scant appearance), and a diligently crafted villain and locale—it has a feel that doesn’t recur in King’s work, even the sister novel, Bachman’s The Regulators.
I imagine the disdain for religion and religious tones I possessed in my younger years—an almost knee-jerk refusal to accept God-themes in my reading—had much to do with my initial dislike for the novel—something I had to fight tooth and nail through during my first couple readings of King’s The Stand—but that feeling has long since been exorcised from me; I still have a hardened agnostic’s view of the world, but have opened up the realm of religious themes in my reading—and, in Desperation, David Carver’s (and, later, Johnny Marinville’s) God-knowledge has its purpose and its strange, cynical nature. Sure, in the end we learn that “God is love”, but for most of the novel he comes off as a self-serving, cruel, even manipulative jerk.
As for Tak, the novel’s great evil, I have mixed feelings; at times it is sinister while at others goofy. This is true of several of King’s antagonists (Pennywise the Dancing Clown, my personal favorite, has some laughable moments due to what King seems to see as an absurd nature of evil), and in no way diminishes Tak’s essential ‘outsider’ nature—a monstrosity from BEYOND (again, see Pennywise), a being of incredible power which is both horrible and, in the end, impotent.
What Tak is—a question that can rarely be answered of any of King’s evils save few—is a question that needs to be aske3d; it is in this novel that the terms “can toi” and “can tak” (Little God and Big God, respectively) are intoned first, and these things resurface in the Tower; Callahan has a can toi of Maturin and uses it near the end of that cycle, but how and why? In Desperation the can toi are poisonous, evil, dreadful to even look at. If such things exist in both evil and “of the white” ways, why and where do they come from and from where does the power spring?
Tak has its “well of worlds”, where, seemingly before man and, therefore, perhaps, before David’s God, it took root in Earth (not Keystone Earth, as this is an earth where Arnette, Texas exists), just the creature and its strange supply of can toi and can tak. It waited to be discovered. The creature in It, much more primal and physical, also came from BEYOND, but hosts no magic items to wreak its havoc—even though It and Tak share the fact that, while they do have physical or metaphysical bodies, their true essence still lies somewhere in that BEYOND—It in It’s Deadlights and Tak in its well.
So if can toi are some sort of manifestation of power, where does Callahan’s Maturin come from? A like-minded space, a sort of “well of White” or “well of Maturin”? Are there, as in Tak’s case, many of these artifacts? Perhaps a space like Tak’s well for all the Guardians of the Beam, now lost or secreted away?
The magic items—or charmed items—of King’s universe are rare and nearly all wihout origin (think of Maerlyn’s Rainbow), but seem to offer more cosmic answers by their existence—answers we never really get (the closest I can think of some vague answer is in It‘s “Ritual of Chud”, as Bill drifts past Maturin, and even that’s not any degree of proof or negation). Even It’s symbol is re-used in Under the Dome to no real satisfaction.
At any rate, the use of God in these novels still feels iffy: if God is there, using David (or The Stand‘s Mother Abigail), then is he, like in Desperation, only concerned with that which is an affront to Him (as he claims the China Pit to be)? Where, then, does that leave It, the Crimson King, or the possible fall of the Tower? Or is David’s God more of a source of the White, one of many? Does Roland ever feel that God, or just an aspect of Him/a different aspect of Him? God’s Twinner?
All of King’s metaphysics aside, an interesting turn for his ubiquitous writer here—a fool hardy asshole is presented in Johnny Marinville, which we see again in the form of King himself in the Tower cycle, but which rarely expresses itself in King’s other writers—Like Bill Denbrough or even Misery‘s Paul Sheldon, or Bag of Bones‘ Mike Noonan or Lisey’s Story‘s Scott Landon. Of course, there’s always King’s original, Jack Torrence of The Shining, the most flawed of King’s writer characters—aside, of course, from King himself.
King’s game—using the same characters in Desperation and Bachman’s The Regulators—even so much as making some of them reasonable “twinners”–is a fantastic concept, one that would be interesting to try out with one of the other writers I have known and worked with (though, in my case, it would be a real, breathing writer); come up with a list of names and then run with them without knowing what the other writer is doing....more
While I've only read two of the four novels contained in this book, it is still one of my favorite of King's 'four books in one' collections (Four PasWhile I've only read two of the four novels contained in this book, it is still one of my favorite of King's 'four books in one' collections (Four Past Midnight, Different Seasons, the upcoming Full Dark, No Stars [which I'm very excited about:]), even though this is a book of an entirely different nature (the Bachman connection; the fact that each novel was released individually).
'Rage' is a brilliant novel dealing with school-shootings far before such things were actual events (recent school-shootings are the reason that this book is no longer in print). While, yes, the protagonist does commit a heinous crime, you find yourself drawn in by his plight.
'The Long Walk' is a post-apocalyptic tale about a contest and the slow death of a group of very young men; it can be seen as a parable of war, or of modern American society, or it can be viewed as a pretty fantastic sci-fi novel....more
This is an impressive novel for two reasons: it is a sequel to a novel with great weight (The Talisman) and it explores themes present throughout KingThis is an impressive novel for two reasons: it is a sequel to a novel with great weight (The Talisman) and it explores themes present throughout King's works (especially The Dark Tower; Roland is mentioned in passing). When combined that it is also a good read, that's a win....more
This is one of my least favorite Stephen King novels. It accomplishes only two things, both dependent upon his other works--one is that it gives us anThis is one of my least favorite Stephen King novels. It accomplishes only two things, both dependent upon his other works--one is that it gives us another proof that the creature of It has left living offspring. The other is a minor footnote to the Dark Tower, relating to both a minor appearance of the Crimson King and a character we only spend a short time with anyway. Neither can support a novel this long with so little in it....more