A fun read, but the only Stephen King book that had me confused and begging for it to end.
I'm giving this book three stars for two reasons: (1) it's SA fun read, but the only Stephen King book that had me confused and begging for it to end.
I'm giving this book three stars for two reasons: (1) it's Stephen King and I just love to read his work and (2) it is actually scary in parts. This was my Halloween book but even when reading at nine in the morning, the tension was incredible. I really don't know how Stephen King does this, and I have studied it. If you're just looking for a scary read, or for King-Kompleatness, then by all means read Cujo.
It's a mess. I also recommend this book if you want to see into the mind of a truly great writer blown away by cocaine. In his memoir and craft book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, King admits that he was completely "blasted" (or was it "wrecked?") when he wrote Cujo, and although he thinks it's good, he can't remember writing a single word of it. I'm surprised that it fits so well into King's fictional Maine mythos, along with "The Body," It, Needful Things, and others, because the book itself barely holds together.
Cujo reads like a long short story, with no chapters divisions and a story that progresses from moment to moment over a few days. There are subplots, but they are sort of window dressing, and I found them distracting. The primary subplot, the main character's affair, is essential in the end, but it's hard while the story's going to trace the connections. The basic story is a kid and his mom get stuck in a broken down car under siege from a rabid dog (the titular Cujo).
The POV shifts are sometimes unpredictable and confusing, but my biggest gripe is that despite the passages with monsters in the kid's closet, this is not a particularly supernatural book, which is what King really does best, the major exception being "The Body," which is brilliant as a simple literary novella. I really love when King does the over-the-top Lovecraftian cosmic horror, and his mythos is better than Lovecraft's. IT, for example, was an amazing ride that gradually works into a completely-unexpected supernatural turn. I kept waiting for the supernatural aspects of Cujo to catch up, but !SPOILER! Cujo is just a rabid dog.
I might be missing something, but on first reading, it feels like King just couldn't connect the dots. The back cover copy is misleading, and the story of Frank Dodd that begins the story never catches up with Cujo himself. This is the first book of King's that was a letdown, where I just wanted to finish it to have finished it. It was still unpredictable and tense, but without that supernatural connection, I was just disappointed. YMMV....more
An excellent review of technique from an agent who is also a novelist. He knows what sells, and emphasizes that success is really about writing well.An excellent review of technique from an agent who is also a novelist. He knows what sells, and emphasizes that success is really about writing well. I don't think he's wrong, but even if he is, that's something in my control, so I like Maass's perspective....more