It had been so long since I'd read this early King novel that I'd forgotten how terrific it is. The efficiency of the writing (something lacking in muIt had been so long since I'd read this early King novel that I'd forgotten how terrific it is. The efficiency of the writing (something lacking in much of his later novels) packs a powerful punch. Part genre thriller, part social commentary, King is at the top of his storytelling prowess. What really struck me in this reading is how contemporary the political landscape King paints sounds. I don't know if that's prescient writing or just a sad commentary of how little the political climate in this country has changed since it's publication in 1979. Years ago, when I read many of King's novels for the first time, I remember considering The Dead Zone a rather minor effort, especially when compared with The Shining, 'Salem's Lot, and It. After a second reading, I come away very impressed with this fantastic thriller and have no problem placing it on the level amongst his very best works....more
In reading other goodreads reviews of this novel, I can agree with the general arguments of both camps. I've read reviews that were blown awa4.5 stars
In reading other goodreads reviews of this novel, I can agree with the general arguments of both camps. I've read reviews that were blown away by the novel's ambition. I am as well. I have read reviews that found the avalanche of footnotes and appendices simply overwhelming, if not distracting or outright boring. I can agree with that as well.
The main narrative itself is no great shakes. But then this novel is really much more than a B-grade horror story, isn't it? In that respect, I am completely impressed Danielewski's ambitions. I love that he parodies, mocks, and-in my opinion- pays homage to the notion of literary criticism. As a Borges fan-boy, the footnotes, many of them completely fabricated, give me a huge English-major smile. And in the Navidson Record section, where the main story is told in fits and starts, Danielewski's narrative is riveting. There are a handful of scenes that expertly filled me with a sense of dread. Any hack can write a horror scene filled with blood and guts and general grossness. It takes more talent to create a scene where a child's drawing of a black square on an otherwise blank page creates a palpable tension. There are several such moments.
Where I had problems with the book lie in Johnny Truant's drug-filled rants and in certain parts of the appendices which end the novel. I don't mind drug-filled rants, mind you. But Truant's are boring and they take away from an otherwise compelling narrative in a way that most of the other footnotes do not. I give Danielewski credit for the narrative ambition; he's walking a highwire. I simply feel that in these sections, he falls. Also, in the appendices, there are things there that I simply felt were there to show off. I got a sense of "Look how clever I am" in reading the Truant poetry and the endless list of extraneous quotations. And this may be a fault that lies with me as I find this in a lot of post-modern novels. Maybe I'm just missing the boat. I don't like the Truant poetry section because it is- again this is purely subjective- bad poetry. I don't like quotations section because they were more than adequately represented within the narrative section itself.
Having said, that, I remain very impressed with Danieleski's ambition and scope. This was not an easy read and I appreciate that I had no problem, for the most part, with jumping through the hoops asked of me by the author (Those of you who've read the novel, I'm specifically referring to one of the letters written by Truant's mother). You know, Borges always shunned writing novels because he felt the type of stories he told could never maintain their effectiveness over such a length. Danielewski writes a similar type of fiction and he comes as close to maintaining that Borgesian effectiveness as anyone I've read. ...more