Maciek's Reviews > The Tommyknockers

The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
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Late last night and the night before,
Tommyknockers, Tommyknockers, knocking at the door.
I want to go out, don't know if I can,
'Cause I'm so afraid of the Tommyknocker man.


When Bobbi Anderson goes for a walk in the woods and trips over a small piece of metal, she doesn't know that she has only seconds left to live. Her life will not end, though; it will change in a way that she, a writer of popular westerns, is not even able to imagine. Determined to see what is in the earth, Bobbi starts digging and unknowingly bestows a curse upon the small town of Haven, maine. Because it's not an old bike or some boat that's sticking out of the ground; it's a spacecraft that has been there for millions of years. Bobbi's old friend, Jim Gardener, senses that she might be in danger and ventures to see her.

Now, this sounds great, and truly would be, if the novel didn't go all around the place. Knocking at just over 700 pages, The Tommyknockers often meanders and looses focus, jumping and switching the narration like a drunk switches bars on Saturday night, or any night for that matter. If approximately 50 or a 100 pages were rewritten or edited, the novel would improve dramatically in pacing and plot structure.
There's some truly great stuff in The Tommyknockers; Gardener's scene at a poetry recitation combined with a cocktail party is truly great and displays the sheer raw power of King's writing. He wasn't writing with ink, he was writing with rage and it shows. Even though it was written in the 80's it looses none of its power. The usual small-town atmosphere is done well, and there's a lot of allusions to King's other works, such as IT or Firestarter. The change that the town of Haven undergoes, the dramatic conclusion and the beautiful epilogue are the shining points of this novel and deserve praise.

It's a surprisingly poignant novel about aging, addiction and change that comes to us all with time. The lack of power to fight these forces is not the reason to stop fighting, even if the end result is almost certainly futile. And the Tommyknockers are real. Like King says in the preface - just watch the evening news. The new boss is the same as the old boss.
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Reading Progress

November 22, 2009 – Shelved
June 9, 2010 – Shelved as: owned-books
June 16, 2010 – Shelved as: horror
December 6, 2010 – Shelved as: own-in-paperback
December 6, 2010 – Shelved as: own-in-hardcover
January 12, 2011 – Shelved as: big-tomes
April 7, 2011 – Started Reading
April 7, 2011 –
page 130
18.76%
April 8, 2011 –
page 200
28.86%
April 9, 2011 –
page 300
43.29%
April 10, 2011 –
page 350
50.51%
April 11, 2011 –
page 450
64.94%
April 12, 2011 –
page 500
72.15%
April 13, 2011 – Finished Reading
May 2, 2011 – Shelved as: science-fiction
July 24, 2011 – Shelved as: read-in-2011

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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Trudi Oh no! Only 3 stars. I know everybody loves to beat up on this book (including King himself), but I just absolutely loved it! Can't wait to read your review :)


Maciek I was conflicted on the rating. There were parts of absolute brilliance (Gard's drunken scene at the party and the aftermath at the beach; the very last scene was just beautiful) but it meandered from topic to topic and character to character far too often.

I've read that this book ws written when King was using drugs heavily. That would explain a lot.


Trudi :) :) indeed it does. Those moments of absolute brilliance of which you speak charmed me thoroughly and made me forgive the meandering madness. I love those moments so much it's brought me back to this book several times. I don't know ... maybe it gets stronger on a re-read? I definitely enjoyed it much more 2nd time around :)


Trudi Great review Maciek! For me this will always remain one of King's most memorable novels. I know it's not perfect, but there is definitely mad genius in its pages and some truly unforgettable moments: Altair-4, the shed, Ruth's dolls, Bobbi's sister (that teeth grinding detail really got to me), and the talking Jesus to name but a few. It's a staggering sprawling book that's kept me riveted :)


Maciek Thanks Trudi:) I agree, Bobbi's sister was a menace. I loved Gard's party scene as he destroys all these geezers. There's a lot of memorable scenes in this book.


message 6: by Greg (new) - added it

Greg I read this book back in the '90s and also saw the movie later on. I enjoyed the book partly because it combined science fiction with horror (and mybe a little bit of xenoarchaeology because the protagonists had to dig up part of the UFO) but I remember thinking at the time how similar The Tommyknockers was to It, having read the latter only a few years previously. I think King was writing both novels over the same period, which may help to explain the similarities.


Maciek Actually, you're right. Both novels were written in the same time period.
IT: 1981-1985
The Tommyknockers: 1982-1987


Bondama I am glad to see that you've managed to find the "better" scenes in the "Tommyknockers" -- Like all of King, even the worst of them, there are always flashes of brilliance. I can't say that for whole books, nor can anyone else. But he does manage to put something unforgettable in each one, doesn't he?


Maciek Thanks, B. I agree. Each of his novels has unforgettable moments, whether it's Hilly and David Brown in The Tommyknockers, Norman's "transformation" in Rose Madder or the palaver in The Gunslinger. And then there are these great stories, like The Stand, IT and Hearts in Atlantis.


Trudi I've decided to give this one another go, Maciek. I'm hoping to write a review for it this time :)


Maciek I hope it'll end up being another five star experience for you, Trudi! Looking forward to reading your review. :)


David S. I have a soft spot for this novel. I think it is the quirky little side stories that were incorporated. And I especially love that Gard met Jack Sawyer, from The Talisman , after the drunken scene. So many little stories like that made me absolutely love this book. I still grab it off the shelf from time to time and just skim randomly. King's words had a harsh beautiful flow back then. Sobriety had matured him. That being said, excellent review Mace!


Maciek Thank you, David - happy to hear you enjoyed it so much! I have read this book just once but can see why you like it so. I do have some novels by Stephen King I like to just open and read a part of. IT and Hearts in Atlantis come to mind. Both are very different books, but at the same time similar to one another - and are my favorites.


David S. It is not only my favourite of all King's novels. It all ranks as my favourite book of all time.


Maciek That is something, David! I don't know if I could pick an absolute favorite book, but these two novels are certainly up there in my ranking.


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