Sometime in the near future, sex offenders are locked away in their own special hell-prison. Tuck, imprisoned for taking nude photos of underage girls...moreSometime in the near future, sex offenders are locked away in their own special hell-prison. Tuck, imprisoned for taking nude photos of underage girls, is being considered for release from the jail where prisoners who try to escape are shot by civic-minded residents of the surrounding town. But releases are not granted easily.
This is a very dark vision of a penal community -- which, strangely enough, is not hard to imagine happening. The play raises great questions about the limits of power, the consequences of actions, and crime and punishment in general.
Lee Blessing has a great talent for dark material. I saw Two Rooms when I was sixteen and I still remember going "Whoa!" This has a similar Whoa factor. (less)
First, a brief low-down: A young man drives a Mercedes into crowd of job-seekers at a job fair. He kills eight people, wounds a bunch of others, and t...moreFirst, a brief low-down: A young man drives a Mercedes into crowd of job-seekers at a job fair. He kills eight people, wounds a bunch of others, and then seems to drop off the face of the earth. Then we jump a year later and meet retired Detective Kermit William Hodges, a.k.a. Bill, who was the lead investigator on the case. Bill is depressed and considering suicide when the Mercedes Killer sends him a letter telling him to go ahead and off himself, unwittingly giving Bill a reason to live: namely, to hunt down the bastard who ran through a mass of people with a stolen Mercedes.
For those who may be looking for a horror fix...this isn't it. (Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.) Mr. Mercedes has more in common with Sue Grafton and J.K. Rowling's alter-ego Robert Galbraith than it does with The Shining or It. As a reader, I don't mind that at all. The bad guy is definitely bad and the good guy has enough questionable motives to make it a quick, interesting read.
There are definitely some plot holes and leaps of faith that the reader has to make, but if you read it quick enough (like I did) you won't think about the problems long enough to truly distract you.
My biggest issue (not counting plot holes and leaps of faith) with the novel related to a more basic issue -- it felt like the beginning of a series. I felt only marginally introduced to the main character (strange, right?) and his former partners. I was only gonna give this book two stars...then, lo, I arrive at Goodreads and find this is the first part of a trilogy? I have rounded my star rating up in hopes that the next couple novels will fix the distance-y issues I was experiencing.
An example of a 'distance-y' issue (a term I have coined my own self): The sidekicks. Jerome and Holly. First off, the sidekicks don't come into the story in any measurable way until almost the end, which was a bummer because they were great foils for Hodges that were massively under-utilized -- they could have presented the arguments and counter-arguments to Hodges thought process...rather than the reader going "What the hell, dude?" And considering the pivotal roles they play, it's kinda disappointing to not spend more time with them.
But, I mean, dudes, it's still King. Plenty of attitude and spark through the pages to keep 'em turning. I especially love the emails between hero and villain. Snarky. Good times. (less)
One night, while driving and receiving a hand-job from his wife, Billy Halleck runs over the wrong gypsy woman. In the ensuing trial, he is let off by...moreOne night, while driving and receiving a hand-job from his wife, Billy Halleck runs over the wrong gypsy woman. In the ensuing trial, he is let off by his good friends: the judge and sheriff. However, he doesn't get off so light when the gypsy woman's father decides to get some vigilante justice of his own. Taduz Lemke stretches out a long finger and says one word. "Thinner." And Halleck's beer gut slowly melts away until all that's left is a ribcage and anger.
While the story itself is horrifyingly entertaining, I was struck more by the language King/Bachman uses early in the book. It's hard to miss the addictive quality of Halleck's eating habits. He orders Whoppers and Big Macs, eats the in the car to hide his habit from his significant others. Sometimes he catches himself and is disgusted and swears to stop:
He threw the remains of the second Whopper out the window and then looked at the mixed slime of juices and sauce on his hand with a desperate kind of horror. And then he did the only sane thing possible under the circumstances: he laughed. And promised himself: No more. The binge would end.
Unfortunately for Halleck, the only way his binge ends is with a gyspy curse.
The curse takes his habits in a different direction, but somehow it still feels allegorical to addiction in general. You try to deny it to yourself. You try to control it. You try to hide it from your family. Eventually, your family notices and tries to intervene -- a lot of time too late. The addiction overtakes your health. And eventually you succumb.
Halleck fights like hell to fix the curse that's been laid on him, but I have to say it's really hard to get behind the guy. He's kind of a punk. At a couple points it seems like he might genuinely come to realize that he was in the wrong, that his mistake cost a woman her life, and that he might, just might, legitimately be sorry. That moment, however, never comes.
He's very much the criminal who is sorry because he got caught, not because he's sorry he did what he did.
The good news is (story-wise) the curse is pretty darn horrific. Most of us wouldn't wish this shit on our worst enemies, so you can kinda see where the guy might get more pissed off than apologetic. So, Halleck doesn't come off as horrible as he could otherwise.
Basically, everyone is a jerk. And it's fun to watch the jerks beat up on each other.
What I find amazing is that the Stephen King who wrote The Gunslinger is obviously so much younger and more in...moreNot gonna write a whole BIG review, but!
What I find amazing is that the Stephen King who wrote The Gunslinger is obviously so much younger and more inexperienced than the Stephen King who wrote . All of my frustration and irritation at Gunslinger was fixed -- completely fixed -- by the end of the prologue of this book. Perfect, badass Roland is given a very believable disability early on and that single incident drives the rest of the book. This set-up is very different than the whole man who could shoot up towns without blinking an eye. It made Roland more likable and the stakes much more dangerous. Shows King as a much more mature writer. Just to see the difference between book one and book two is a reading experience.
Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram are no Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy.
For me, it was really hard to get behind a relationship that basically boils d...moreWell.
Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram are no Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy.
For me, it was really hard to get behind a relationship that basically boils down to a weird father/daughter dynamic. Repeatedly it's stated that Edmund had so much to do with 'forming Fanny's opinions.' I can run with that. Times were different, after all.
But! the fact that most of those 'opinions' revolve around passing judgment on others' lack of judgment or moral turpitude makes for a preachy read -- especially with Edmund becoming, basically, a preacher. Unfortunately, all of the charm and wit in this Austen novel go to the 'bad guys.' I found myself cheering more heavily for Miss Mary Crawford and her wayward brother than for the two main characters.
I don't really have much to say other than that...and it's probably damning enough to say that a novel which revolves around a relationship doesn't present a fascinating relationship. So I won't say anymore.
It gets a star for being written by Austen (therefore it has never been out of print) and a star for the lovely description of English countryside customs and manners (and manor houses) even though everyone who lived in this particular English countryside was a judgmental punk. Other than that, I have to say I did not love this one. (less)
Martin is a successful man, with a loving wife and a slightly troubled son. However, during an interview conducted by his best friend, Ross, Martin co...moreMartin is a successful man, with a loving wife and a slightly troubled son. However, during an interview conducted by his best friend, Ross, Martin confesses a secret: He's in love with a goat. And he's also having sex with said goat.
(And with eyes like that, who can blame him?)
Ross, instead of being the understanding friend Martin understood him to be, goes directly to Stevie -- Martin's wife -- and turns him in. What follows is a passionate debate about love, sex, and what is-and-is-not appropriate.
At times Albee's play is hilarious. Because. Really. Sex with a goat. I don't care who you are, that's pretty darned funny. Martin's explanation of his position (or positions as the case may be) is strangely proper, which adds a sense of the absurd to the already absurd situation. Stevie's sarcasm is understandably both wry and tragic at the same time:
Stevie: The fucking of animals! No, that's one thing you haven't thought about, one thing you've overlooked as a byway on the road of life, as the old soap has it. "Well, I wonder when he'll start cruising livestock. I must ask Mother whether Dad did it and how she handled it."
However, aside from the strange situation, the play explores some deep questions. Who are we allowed to love? How are we allowed to express love? What do we really understand about any of it? There's real pain and a real life hanging in the balance, which makes for some serious drama.