Jason's Reviews > Dolores Claiborne

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
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's review
Jul 05, 13

bookshelves: 90s-favorites

I think I had really fond memories of this book because it was one of my first “grown-up” books in elementary school, and I felt so smart that I read it. Though maybe it’s telling that I didn’t read my second King book until over a decade later…of course, I may have just been apprehensive about reading his books cuz they were mostly supposed to be like SOO Scary. Which generally they don’t seem to be.

Anyway, it is a nice yarn, but it feels sorta throwaway and inconsequential, something King could have dashed off in his spare time rather than spending 2.5 years on it. Even now I’m glad he had it published; it’s the kind of thing you would expect from someone who does make an effort even though he writes at least one book every single year. And some of his other books don’t reach that standard, feeling more like they got published just because of his name despite not being that worthy of publication.

I still like Dolores herself a lot, and while she’s not one of King’s protagonists who happens to be a writer so you could reasonably imagine that she herself is the writer of the narrative, he gets around that by framing the book as a transcription of what she says when interrogated by the police. Vague shades of Lolita…whose real name is Dolores IIRC, or was that her mother’s?

The frame prevents the book from having any suspense about the ending, and there’s a real lacking in a sense of history when it comes to Dolores – there’s her in the present, and her in the early 60s, and that’s about it. I suppose that could be expected when everything is a long (mostly) monologue poured out to others. Other characters are pretty sketchy as well, but the length of the book feels about right and based on certain bloated King books, if the book were longer the characterization wouldn’t improve so much as feel unnecessarily longwinded. So that’s a plus.

I think at this point I just prefer when King throws supernatural elements into his books, partially because of his comfort level with them and partially because the spectacle can distract from other problems, so my potential for being amped about this book was not super high.

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