Lee's Reviews > 'Salem's Lot

'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
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's review
Nov 02, 07

Recommended for: suckers
Read in March, 1994

I read this for a contemporary literary theory class my senior year in college. Everyone was like, yo, why are all the dorky english major types -- with their fuzzy hair, silly wool hats, scarves, leather footwear, black coffee in Oberlin Student Cooperative Association travel mugs -- why are all these pretentious dorks reading Stephen King?! It was a real uproar. All I remember was thinking that the writing was lame. It wasn't even scary. I made it to about page 200, before the vampires or whatever even appeared, and then quit it (we could choose not to write a 5-page close-reading essay on one of the books that semester), then went back to digging on my newfound pals Barthes and Baudrillard.
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Edan (new)

Edan I took the same class, Lee! This was the only book I didn't finish (I think of only 2 I didn't finish in my college career--that's how dorky I am). I couldn't keep going because I was too scared (and when I wasn't scared, I was a little bored).

message 2: by Lee (last edited Nov 02, 2007 09:34AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lee Mishima's story "Patriotism" is scary. The language made "Salem's Lot" not so scary for me, like it distracted me too much to get into it and thereby get scared -- or maybe (probably) I was just way too stoned at the time to be scared by a book. However, the enormous, looming, pulsating shadow of my hand cast by a bare nighttable blub onto the wall next my bed: talk about freaky-scary! whew!

message 3: by Edan (new)

Edan But, Manny, I don't like being scared!

message 4: by brian (new)

brian   "if you don't find possessed topiary goofy, but do find them scary, then you must be a Stephen King fan."


message 5: by Edan (new)

Edan Wow, it is fun to shit on an author! I wanted to say, however, that just because I didn't care for a given book, doesn't mean I am criticizing its writer just for sport.

And, for the record: Lee went to Oberlin in a different era than I, and his perspective cannot be altogether trusted, as I believe he lived in Harkness, a coop filled with hippies and hacky-sacks! I attended Pat Day's Contemporary Literary Theory class with fresh breath and an even fresher wardrobe!

message 6: by Michael (new)

Michael I dislike King because he can't seem to break free of the Western God-vs-Devil notion of evil. It gets tedious. I'm not someone who completely dislikes King's work (I appreciate his older novels and I have _Bag of Bones_ waiting for me in my book closet) but I think that as time passes the man will be looked at as writers like James Fenimore Cooper are looked at now: a man of his time whose work, although popular, won't hold up to the test of time.

See, I didn't even need to insult anyone.

message 7: by bryan (new)

bryan I don't think Cooper is looked at the way you described. His stuff is still in print and widely read. Doesn't that mean he HAS stood the test of time?

message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael I should have put that in a better way - my brain left that part out for my fingers. 'Popular but dated' is what I mean. Entertaining but flawed. In Cooper's case, the story of _The Last of the Mohicans_ rolls along until you hit a garish racial stereotype like his noble savages and the character of the black servant. I'm not saying that King indulges in stereotyping, of course.

message 9: by brian (new)

brian   fuck king. i'd like to address a bigger issue...

it seems, cal, that you are the only person who is so insulted by the personal 'attacks' as to repeatedly bring it up and actually formally flag someone (manny) and write a letter to the good chaps who run goodreads for being called (hilariously, i must say. nice job manny) 'a walking ulterior motive'. kind of ridiculous, huh?

what's going on here? it feels oddly disingenious. does it really bother you so much? so much that you couldn't ask manny to stop before flagging him? marshall and dmitry can get personal and all's forgiven. manny and myself go at it like pit bulls and we (and everyone else, it seems) loves it and each other. do we really have to hold back on the personal comments? really?

we're all friends here. it's all in good fun. i absolutely love that we are the few people who get so worked up over books - books! - that we lob insults back and forth. no: we don't call each other dumb or fat or ugly or poor blahblahblah... it all pertains to the issue at hand and is all in good fun.

i remember a pretty pointed and mean-spirited posting you wrote to edan which closed:

"if i offended anyone: good"

i also remember you called everyone 'fucking illiterate' for writing about film on a literary posting.

or stating that manny 'wrote the book on how to alienate people.'

if i may psychoanalyze you based on your goodreads postings... it seems that you are something of a control freak who absolutely NEEDS for these threads to follow your lead and exist within your guidelines.

so take it easy, pal.

and if you can't handle being called 'a walking ulterior motive' or being offended and insulted (while, yes, doing some insulting and offending yourself), then i suggest you stay outta the kitchen. or just continue to flag me and manny and marshall and whomever to high heaven and enjoy the company if and when we get tossed outta here. i have a feeling you, my dear, will be authoring the book you attributed to manny.

message 10: by Tosh (new)

Tosh I never read King because of his ‘mainstream’ super popularity. It was only recently through the Film/literature blog here on Goodreads that I first started to consider about the possibility of reading a King novel. Which would or will be The Shining due to the Kubrick film. But before that I had not the slightest interest in reading his works.

Also horror books in general don't interest me. A really scary book writer for me is Paul Bowles. And like Michael above I have no feelings for the devil vs. good type of stories. It is not part of my background or interest.

Am I wrong about King? More likely I am!

message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael I admit that books generally don't scare me. The one book that has come the closest, and I know I'll get guff about it, is _House of Leaves_.

I can see _The Sheltering Sky_ being scary for sure.

message 12: by Edan (new)

Edan Lee, I actually ate at Tank for one semester, but had to go back to dorm food as I was shrinking (burnt rice just ain't gonna cut it for me, and who wants to eat pizza every friday?). Sorry about my mistake about Harkness. I didn't mean to burn all hippies, by the way--I was just saying that Lee's description of Oberlin students would be different from mine.

message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael Manny - I've run into a number of people who are completely put off by the author's textual antics (so to speak). The idea of being faced with something unfathomable and inescapable scares me far more than any Satan or Satan-like figure coveting my soul!

message 14: by Lee (new) - rated it 1 star

Lee Pizza and beer (in big mason jars) every friday evening on the porch of Tank in October and early November . . . can't get much better than that per college memories.

message 15: by Edan (new)

Edan Lee, I have Oberlin culinary memories of the DeCafe sandwiches with all that melted cheese, and breakfast at the Black River Cafe--both after your time, I think.
Did you know I'm teaching there in the spring? Maybe I'll have pizza and beer at Tank in your honor.

message 16: by Edan (new)

Edan Of course I will recommend Barthelme! And I know you had a terrible time with the major, but I think it's much better now. Thankfully.

message 17: by Edan (new)

Edan Hey, mister, I majored in both English AND Creative Writing, and it worked well for me.

message 18: by Edan (new)

Edan And what are you, objective? Ha!
People can major in whatever the fuck they want to major in--that the fun of college? One person majors in philosphy, the other, marketing, the other, creative writing, the other, math, the other, politics, the other, visual arts. It's all good as long as you learn to think.

message 19: by Edan (new)

Edan As if I would ever wear LA Gear! And I lived in Dascomb my freshman year, which is on the southside of campus.

message 20: by Edan (new)

Edan Amen!

Patrick I am not sure that it would be good coverage in a review to dismiss a book that you have not finish reading and proclaim it as not scary, especially when you have not read the part about vampires. The ending when the main character examines a snow globe is very creepy and surrealistic, that it makes the supernatural evil more concrete. Stephen King is fond of setting up scenes, characters before he lets the monster come out of the closet. Maybe I am getting a bit cranky in my middle age, but it appears that some readers in today's world want to have instant results when it comes to reading.

message 22: by Lee (last edited Aug 01, 2009 08:13AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Lee Hey Patrick, how's it? If your comment refers to my comment (not a "review," really) written about two years ago, about a book I half-read in fall 1993, that's cool. I doubt I've ever worried about "good coverage" on here - trying just to be true to mine self's good ol' subjectivity etc. Expectations of instant results when reading is a good topic to cover, and I'd say that if the language hooks engaged my most likely weed-wacked language sensitivity receptors at the time, I surely would have read to the surreal, creepy snow globe. However, alas. Admittedly, I'm definitely not one to finish books I've lost all interest in after 75-100 pages. What King is real good? The Stand? Firestarter? Cujo? I've been thinking it's time to try again after 16 years.

message 23: by Patrick (last edited Aug 01, 2009 07:05AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Patrick Thanks for your response. I would recommend you read The Mist in Skeleton Crew, and all his short stories. He really go for your jugular in these and it might give you time to get to used to his writings while taking his short stories in small doses. The novelette is very very scary, more scary than what the movie came up with. And the The Long Walk in his Bachman novels is one of the scariest dystopia horror I ever read. He really gave us the atmosphere of the Vietnam War, and I found it eerie, similiar to the so called Bush years of 2000 to 2008 in which we practically pissed our pants cheering on and worshipping those teenaged soldiers going to their death in Iraq. He really captured my imagination in that one, and that novelette really haunted me.

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