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The Long Walk
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Talk about the Novels > The Long Walk-Bachman book

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message 1: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments Discuss The Long Walk here!


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Shouldn't this be May? :)


message 3: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments Oops thanks!


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Angie wrote: "Oops thanks! "

No problem!

I should actually be finishing this tonight... if I ever get any reading done that is. LOL It's good so far.


message 5: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments Hopefully I will be starting it tomorrow as soon as I am done reading the book I am currently reading. Can't wait!


Kandice | 1373 comments I can't wait until someone is finished to discuss! This is one of my favorites.


message 7: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments You can go ahead and start discussing. I usually don't really read the threads till I am done reading so I don't spoil it for myself.


Kandice | 1373 comments But no one else is here yet...


message 9: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments You are the first (plus I posted this a day early... I can't take the excitement!)


Stacie (StacieH) I've already read it. I'll be re-reading with the group, but feel free to start discussing now.

I'd never really paid attention to anything published under the Bachman name (for some stupid, unknown reason) and I didn't pick this up until fairly recently when I saw it re-printed under King's name. I was completely blown away! This book shouldn't be as riveting as it is... but I could not put it down.


message 11: by Chris , The Hardcase (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chris  (haughtc) | 912 comments Stacie wrote: "I've already read it. I'll be re-reading with the group, but feel free to start discussing now.
..."


Same here...planning on starting once I get finished with Faithful...


Anna | 64 comments I read the book earlier this year--ready and willing to discuss it with anyone else that is ready :)


Rachel | 699 comments I just finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Going to (hopefully) pick up The Bachman Books at my mom's today (as soon as I pry myself off Goodreads). I hope my sister found it.


Tek | 47 comments I am re-reading it also, and I read Part 1 last night. I really do find it hard to put this one down, I just want to keep reading. But anyway, as for Part 1...

It's mostly an introduction to the characters, some of which don't last as long, but mostly the Musketeers (Garraty, McVries, Baker, Olson...that tool Barkovich). I noticed this time around that Barkovich isn't a jagoff at first, but maybe that's just cause we don't know him yet. I kind of felt bad for him the way Olson treated him right off. It's funny reading Garraty's first reactions to characters like Baker and Stebbins, me knowing just how long everyone lasts and all.


message 15: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments Is there no movie for this book? This seems to almost be our first group read where there is no movie adaptation.


Kandice | 1373 comments There is NOT a movie. I think it would be pretty disturbing. The only way I think they could do it without it being an all-out gross-out, woudl be to NOT show the kids actually being shot. Maybe show the kids faces knwoing they are next, and then pan to the guys on the truck, aiming, firing and then pan to the faces of the other walkers. I think that would make it scarier too. Kind of like not really seeing the shark much in Jaws.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments I finished this last night, and I actually felt a little disappointed with it. (Sorry Kandice...)

I thought that the characters were pretty well developed, mostly. I would have liked to see more about their society, though. It was developed enough, in a kind of minimalist, use-your-imagination way, but it just didn't feel, to me, that King had hit his stride with this one. One of my favorite things about King is that he creates situations and settings that are so real it's like you could turn your head and find yourself in it. Part of that is answering the "Why", but he didn't for me this time.

I'm trying not to give a lot away, because I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't yet read it. Maybe this is one that needs to be re-read to be fully appreciated?


Rachel | 699 comments Angie wrote: "Is there no movie for this book? This seems to almost be our first group read where there is no movie adaptation. "

Someone told me at work last night that they're making a movie adaptation but I'd have to research that statement. Oh and no go on getting The Long Walk at my mom's. My sister can't find it. I'm gonna try the library tomorrow. I'm gonna do a library/book store morning, need to cheer myself up lately.


message 19: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments Finally we see your shirt Rachel! You were hiding it! I love the black shirt! I might have to buy me a black one also!


Stacie (StacieH) I can't imagine this book as a movie... well not one I'd want to watch anyway. So much of the 'action' takes place inside the main character's head that I can't see it translating well onto the big (or small) screen. Of course I thought that about 'The Body' and I enjoyed 'Stand By Me' a lot, so I guess it just depends on how the adaptation is handled.

One thing I wish were more detailed in the book... just how does a society get to this point?? I'd love to see more aspects of this world.


Emma Audsley (EmmaAudsley) | 25 comments Just finishing 'Heart Shaped Box'by Joe Hill,then I'm starting the long walk....!


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Stacie wrote: "I can't imagine this book as a movie... well not one I'd want to watch anyway. So much of the 'action' takes place inside the main character's head that I can't see it translating well onto the bi..."

Stacie, that is EXACTLY what I thought! I think that one thing would have made this a real 4 star book for me, instead of a 3.5'er. I'd have preferred a different ending too, but I think now I'm just being picky, haha.


Kandice | 1373 comments It's funny because his not explaining society's decline didn't matter to me. I felt the story was all about Ray, so I didn't really care about WHY he got where he was, just what happened WHEN he was there.

It just occurred to me that that ery thing was part of what I disliked about The Road. I guess I forgave King because I love his style. I couldn't forgive McCarthy.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Kandice wrote: "It's funny because his not explaining society's decline didn't matter to me. I felt the story was all about Ray, so I didn't really care about WHY he got where he was, just what happened WHEN he wa..."

Weird Kandice, because I was harder on King for the very reason that you were lenient with him. I've never read anything else by McCarthy, so I didn't have any experience with his writing style, or what is typical for him, etc. But with King, I KNOW that he can describe things in a way that makes them come alive, but I don't think that he did here.

It's like he purposefully left us in the dark. Maybe that's exactly what happened though, because it doesn't seem that Ray (or any of the other boys except Stebbins and he wasn't exactly chatty) knew what was going on either.

I think that if that's the case, the story would have been better told from the first person POV. So that Garraty is telling us what he knows and hears, rather than being told what Garraty knows and hears, etc.


Tek | 47 comments Rob wrote: "But Garraty is the main protagonist from the start. It's not first-person, but it's still mostly told from his viewpoint.

The hows and whys didn't interest me at all. And, to be truthful, explai..."


I agree. I didn't really need to know why society has fallen into this normality, that's just the way it is. All Garraty is doing is taking part.




Kandice | 1373 comments Does that mean you like it, Rob? Or no?


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments I do like to know the why. I don't need an in-depth explanation, or every detail explained, but I prefer knowing there was some catalyst that allowed for a hostile take-over rather than society just falling so far into decay that they send 99 kids out to die every year because some crazy dude says to, and then cheer about it.


Kandice | 1373 comments Becky-We don't always get what we want:) *said with love*

Why does it matter? The decline of society is not the story. The story is Ray, and to a degree Stebbins. They are where they are, doing what they are doing. We are seeing a picture of only that.

I know what your saying. Stephen King generally writes "paintings" and this is a sketch (I'm listening to Duma, so bear with me), but it's a great sketch. It made you WANT to know more, right?


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Yes... I know that. I'm not saying I hated it, just that I wanted a bit more.

But I have to disagree with you that the decline of society isn't the story. It's not the focus of the story, but it is a major factor in it, because if society had not decayed, The Long Walk would not exist and there would be no story to tell.

I know what you're saying, though. The focus is Ray and HIS story and his experience, not the background. But isn't it possible that ignoring the goings-on in the background is exactly what allowed the Major to do what he does?

I'm not trying to be a pain, but one of the things that I really enjoy most about reading dystopian fiction is the cautionary aspect of it. There's no caution here, because we weren't told what to be cautious of. I just felt the absence of that, and am commenting on it, albeit probably badly. :)


Stacie (StacieH) Kandice wrote:
Why does it matter? The decline of society is not the story. The story is Ray, and to a degree Stebbins. They are where they are, doing ..."


You're right that the 'why' isn't necessary to the story... and I really like this story, this 'sketch' if you will... but I would also like to see the 'painting' :) There are avenues that my curiosity would love to explore.




Kandice | 1373 comments I am nicely disagreeing, Becky. I think it is very cautionary. It's cautioning us against our loss of the respect for human life. Against hurt, pain and death becoming entertainment, for whatever reason. Against overlooking the value of our youth and their potential to contribute to, and possibly improve society.

The general has lost all these things. For NO reason should we allow these things to be lost. NO reason, so in this instance (to me) the reason matters not a whit.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments No, you're right, those are things that should not be lost or given up for any reason.

I guess my issue is that I want there to be some bad man who comes along with his army of trained emotionless killers behind him and says, "Guess what everyone, we're doing things my way from now on, and if you don't like it, you die." Maybe that's easier for me to accept than society as a whole declining into depravity and allowing some regular Joe to take advantage of the situation and CREATE the army of killers for his own entertainment.

This is a very interesting discussion though. I'm rethinking all of my original opinions about this book. :)


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Unfortunately, yes. But I'd hope that we would learn from our past, rather than repeat it. Which is why I prefer to look for the catalyst, I guess.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Rob wrote: "I understand. Unfortunately, I think human nature is to repeat past mistakes. Just my negative opinion. ;)"

I know. But a girl can hope!


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments Rob wrote: "So can a guy."

True. :)


Heather Thomas (5peasinapod) | 8 comments I read this a few years ago, but the image of the kids walking hasn't left me. I liked the space left by King for us to fill in, such as the make up of society. That a mother would willing allow her child to participate in this is curious indeed.

When the kids started getting taken off the tension was really good as to how they would get down to the winner.



message 37: by Trudi (last edited May 02, 2009 06:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trudi (trudistafford) | 150 comments There's an interesting split here that I could never have predicted and that's between those who feel cheated about the details of the decline of Garraty's America and those who feel "the why" isn't nearly as important as "the what". To quote Kandice: "I didn't really care about WHY he got where he was, just what happened WHEN he was there"

I'm part of the latter group; I actually think the novel's (short for King) limited viewpoint told strictly from the p.o.v of a scared shitless 16-year old boy is much more effective. As the reader, we only know what the Garraty character knows, and this adds to our sense of fear, confusion, and anger. We are not omniscient readers who benefit from a whole back story that the boys on the road don't have. This is their life now and whatever may have come before it is moot, because having a historical context isn't gonna save them.

As for just how a society gets to this point? I imagine the young man Stephen King was when he wrote this story didn't see America's descent into a modern military dictatorship all that far out. He published this novel in 1979 as Richard Bachman, but of course it was written earlier than that when he was still in college. Think the ugliness of Vietnam, the Nixon era and Watergate, the rise of Hitler and Stalin in their respective societies and the near-apocalyptic results of their influence... it would have been all of this informing a young man with a fertile imagination. We can even see some of the same themes at work in The Running Man, another great Bachman story (but shitty movie!)

Okay, lots more to say but I'll leave it at that for now... this is one of my favourite King novels and I'm just thrilled to be able to talk about it with other Constant Readers :)




message 38: by Trudi (last edited May 02, 2009 06:58PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Trudi (trudistafford) | 150 comments An aspect of the story that has always engaged me is the boys’ compulsion to join the Walk and be complicit in their own execution. I may be way off here but I suspect this is an allegory for young boys signing up to die in Vietnam. The draft, which came later, took the choice away from many, but in the beginning a lot of those boys were volunteers. Even when the war descended into a bloody quagmire, you still had some of them volunteering.

King hints at The Walk as being a prestigious event and that there was honor associated with it – to be selected for it was a huge deal, and to back out would have been dishonorable and cowardly. I think a lot of the same pressures fall on young soldiers; you do this for honor, to fight for your country, and the risk to your own personal safety becomes less important than those other factors.

King was one of those young men who tried to sign up for Vietnam, but his eyes and ears kept him out. I’m sure he grappled with the psychology of the times, and what young men were going through, draft dodgers and volunteers alike. In the novel, McVries assumes they are all on a suicide mission, that each of them has their own personal reasons for seeking out death. Garraty passionately rejects this observation confident that HE doesn't want to die, but then, why is he walking?

I think naivety and ignorance got a lot of the boys to The Walk, including Garraty. There’s a sense of this isn’t real, and I can’t die, even with the odds against surviving so astronomically high. Right up until the first boy gets his “ticket” many of the boys believed “the ticket” would be a white flag with the word “bang” on it. But as they find out, there is no glory in the stink and blood of senseless death, as I’m sure many a young Vietnam soldier came to understand as well.


Trudi (trudistafford) | 150 comments Frank Darabont has optioned the film rights for The Long Walk and here's what he said about it in a 2007 interview:

Darabont: It is just a bunch of kids walking. And talking. And getting shot. That's why I love it. It's a very intense ensemble character piece, another one of those "people in a contained pressure-cooker situation" stories that Steve does so well and seems to specialize in. To me, it's an existential metaphor for our mindless obsession with war -- kids being sent off to die for no reason other than "just because." I don't think it's a coincidence that King wrote it in the shadow of Vietnam, though we've never really discussed that part of it, that's just my interpretation. It's a remarkable and pointed piece of fiction, especially considering he was basically a kid when he wrote it. In fact, is it true he started writing it in high school? I suppose I'll ask him, I've always wanted to know. Anyway, chances are The Long Walk is more of an art house film than what we'd consider a mainstream Hollywood movie. When I do make it, I'm sure the budget will be even lower than on The Mist...a lot lower.

***You can read the whole interview here.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments The raw hamburger wasn't eaten, at least that I saw. It was mentioned that it was there, and then later that it was gone. I just remember thinking that it was pretty gross to bring raw hamburger meat like that... into the heat, unrefrigerated for a long time. I'm glad that I didn't have to witness the actual eating, I'd have probably lost my own lunch.

Trudi, you did bring up some very valid points. I am definitely appreciating the story more now that I'm participating in a discussion on it.


Trudi (trudistafford) | 150 comments Thanks guys, can't wait to hear what everyone has to say as the month goes on :)


message 42: by Kandice (last edited May 03, 2009 10:11AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kandice | 1373 comments I had always thought of the boys who volunteered to go to Vietnam when reading this, but thought maybe I was stretching. I'm glad I wasn't, and that more people agree. (helps me feel less crazy:)


Tek | 47 comments I just passed the part where...Garraty laughs himself into 3 warnings and McVries has to slap him out of it. I'm noticing this time around that there are a lot of things that could be expanded upon were this to go to film. There are plenty of flashback scenes that are only a few paragraphs on paper, but in a fade to flashback sort of way could easily be ten minutes. Like Garraty's father getting "Squaded" and Stebbins story of witnessing the end of a Walk.


Trudi (trudistafford) | 150 comments I keep thinking about the speed the boys must maintain. I remember the first time I tested out on a treadmill just how fast 4 mph actually is -- I could barely walk it, I was almost jogging! But then again, I'm far from being a fit 16 year old. Who thinks 4 mph is realistic? Could the boys still be talking at such a speed?

How about the length of the race? Who thinks the human body could sustain that speed for that length of time with no breaks? In a survival situation I think humans are capable of extraordinary physical feats. The real horror of this story for me lies in imagining being forced to walk for that long -- King really cuts to the minutiae of the agony and terror of the situation. He puts the reader on that road and I will never feel the same about walking anywhere ever again! :)


message 45: by Kandice (last edited May 03, 2009 08:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kandice | 1373 comments I was in an exercise group after pregnancy, and we walked 6 miles every morning, pushing strollers, in an hour and a half. We knew we were at the right speed when we could have a conversation, but could NOT sing. That's about what the boys were walking.

As far as walking that long, a lot of them did suffer cramps and such, but a bullet to the head is great incentive.


Becky (Beckyofthe19and9) | 2639 comments That's funny Trudi, I forgot about that, but it bothered me too. I walk on the treadmill at the gym, and I normally maintain a 3.5MPH pace which is a pretty decent pace... 4MPH is really like that step right in between fast walking and slow jogging.

This makes me think of two things: 1) That maybe King didn't know what a realistic walking pace is. Isn't there a part where the vanguard was said to have been leading the pack at around 7 miles per hour? If 5MPH is a jog, and I know it is, that's an outright run. Maybe he stepped their walking pace up to make the distance more extreme.

3MPH = 72 miles per day or 288 miles in 4 days.
4MPH = 96 miles per day or 384 miles in 4 days.

2) Maybe kids back then DID walk that fast, and people nowadays are too lazy to keep up that pace for more than a block.

Heck, maybe its a combination of the two. I dunno!


message 47: by Angie, Constant Reader (new) - rated it 3 stars

Angie | 2120 comments I am just starting! (of course I have not read any thread to not spoil it for myself)


Kandice | 1373 comments I really think they could walk that pace pretty easily. Like I said we did, PUSHING STROLLERS. I admit, we COULD stop if we wanted and no one was going to shoot us, and we were only walking an hour and a half, but they were also young, and knew for quite a while they had been selected. They had to know they could walk a long way, right? I mean they wouldn't sign up if they never did any walking at all. They knew the rules before hand and must have timed themselves at least some.


Tek | 47 comments Kandice wrote: "I really think they could walk that pace pretty easily. Like I said we did, PUSHING STROLLERS. I admit, we COULD stop if we wanted and no one was going to shoot us, and we were only walking an hour..."

Agreed. I mean, I may struggle with maintaining 4mph, I don't know, but most of these kids were said to be in very good shape at least. The ones like McVries and Scramm were said to be in even better shape than the majority.




Tek | 47 comments I'm on Chapter 10 now.

Olson just had his guts spill out all over the place. There's less than 50 walkers left of the original 100. Everyone is pretty damn fatigued right now. Loving it!


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