It is as though Stephen King: 1. Took me out to an arid, deserted sepia-toned no-place 2. Lit a sputtering campfire that quickly faded to embers 3. HandcIt is as though Stephen King: 1. Took me out to an arid, deserted sepia-toned no-place 2. Lit a sputtering campfire that quickly faded to embers 3. Handcuffed me 4. Sat me down Indian-style across from him 5. Proceeded to narrate to me in a hoarse, bored drawl over a series of three-to-four weeks the world's longest, most uninteresting story while my head lolled back, my lips grew dry with thirst, and my bum ached
If this book had been written by any writer other than Stephen King, it would never have been published. I firmly believe that an editor, or any discerning eye, never even glanced at this book.
I will say that the only redeeming storyline in this entire book is Don (Pere) Callahan's tale. In it, King writes some surprisingly beautiful prose. Callahan's tale - which is interspersed throughout the main storyline - moves in a pace that a story like this should move - like hurried steps on a Manhattan sidewalk, like a nervous glance backward as though someone might be following you. Because guess what? Someone is following you - me, the reader! And if I'm following your little ka-tet through the boring, desolate redneck wonderland of the Calla for 925 freakin' pages - you better move! However, how much does Callahan's story actually move the plot? Very little. It seems to serve two purposes: to reinforce coincidence as "ka," and as an example of the quality of writing of which King is capable, but which you, reader, are being denied throughout the rest of the narrative.
Besides the sheer grueling pace of this beast, I had a couple of serious problems with this particular book in the Dark Tower Series:
1. Speech Mannerisms: The language of the Calla is annoying. When Roland's ka-tet continue to use these annoying speech mannerisms in their own "palaver" - it comes off as completely ridiculous. Not to mention - exhausting for the reader.
2. Repetition: Certain tropes (Nineteen, for example) are repeated too often. It is bad writing, simply put. While I do not yet understand the "significance" of Nineteen, it has been implied that it is significant. So, so significant. Yawn.
3. Mia: Susannah already has three personalities. Giving her another one is simply a rehashing and reheating of King's own once-interesting characterizations.
So, if the pace is slow, the plot overdrawn, surely in 925 pages there is room for some serious character development, right? Wrong! Besides Jake Chambers doing a little "coming of age," the rest of the characters remain stagnant throughout the narrative - to the point where they seem like thoughtless renditions of themselves. Even Mia - a brand new personality! - is derivative of Susannah's older personalities and is largely uninteresting.
I will also say that I find the subplot of the Callahan's meta-fiction interesting. I find it easy to believe that a quest that traverses time/place/universes, can surely traverse the border between reality and fiction. This development of a fiction-bridging reality could be spectacular if done correctly. Or it could fall off, and go nowhere. I cannot say I have faith for the former.
My enjoyment of Callahan's tale is the only reason I gave this book more than one star.
That said - I won't give up now. Not with thousands of pages of this series already read. I mean, I have to get to that Tower. But, God, God God - I want to give up. God, this Wolves of The Calla book was long. I felt like I was reading it for nineteen years....more