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Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)
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Dark Tower Series > Dark Tower series and the fourth wall *Spoilers through Book 6*

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Judy Goodwin | 17 comments THIS DISCUSSION WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS UP THROUGH BOOK 6 OF THE DARK TOWER SERIES. This is your official warning. Read no further if you don't want to be spoiled.

And if you have spoilers for Book 7, please hold them back.

So I'm currently reading Book 6, "Song of Susannah." And I'm at the part where they're discussing this guy named "Stephen King" in 1977 New England. I'm smiling because it's obvious that King is having a fun time breaking what they call the "fourth wall", bringing the reader's world and thus the reader themself into the book. Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality.

So I'd love to hear other people's thoughts about this. How did you react when he started putting not only other books (The Stand, Salem's Lot, etc.) into the Dark Tower series, but then put himself into it as well? Because the Dark Tower deals so much in different realities and the nature of reality itself, I thought it was an interesting tactic.

Did you find it funny? Annoying? Distracting? Note that I'm still reading here, but I just wanted to have a discussion about the idea to actually put a writer into their own work--not just a writer character, such as in "Misery" but the actual writer himself.


Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I love the concept and how King fits into the story. It makes it seem... plausible that it could be real, in some alternate world maybe a few removed from our own version.

I love it. And I love that he doesn't make himself look good - he portrays himself as an asshole and a drunk, and one who would totally reject the role he's been given to play if he could. Thankfully, Gan doesn't really give him much choice. ;)


Kandice | 3974 comments I agree with Becky. Inserting himself not only makes sense, but kind of sells the story in a way. Those of us that love him already feel like his writing is magical, so believing that is, in actual fact, a kind of magic is not a stretch for us.

Also, like Becky said, the way he portrays himself is so realistic it makes it all that much easier to accept the premise. Us stalkers fans, know that he had troubles with alcohol and drugs, so it's no great stretch and doesn't shatter any illusions we have.

Another great example of this is I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. I love to think Zusak read this and thought "Awesome! I can do that!".


Gavin (thewalkingdude) | 224 comments I thought it was a nice touch. Kinda like Tolkien writing lotr as if it were a translation from Bilbo's book.


Dave (big_daddy_d) Judy wrote: "THIS DISCUSSION WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS UP THROUGH BOOK 6 OF THE DARK TOWER SERIES. This is your official warning. Read no further if you don't want to be spoiled.

And if you have spoilers for Book..."


Guess I'm the lone wolf here. I wasn't too crazy about how he added himself to the storyline. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like it hurt the story in any way. However, it did seem to put a strain on the "believability". Of course I know none of it is real, but bringing in someone from the "real world" seemed to hamper the fantasy.


message 6: by Nate (last edited Jul 29, 2014 02:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nate (the_enobee) | 80 comments I though it was super cool and eerie. I love picturing Roland and Eddie Dean in SK's old kitchen! Too fun...now please finish book 6 and 7 so we can expand this disussion ;)


Judy Goodwin | 17 comments Lol I'm working on that. And I think if he had tried to insert himself into his other books that it wouldn't have worked, because each of them had a very precise world that had been built. But the very nature of the Dark Tower series lends itself to this kind of play. So in this case, I think it works.


Nate (the_enobee) | 80 comments Judy wrote: "Lol I'm working on that. And I think if he had tried to insert himself into his other books that it wouldn't have worked, because each of them had a very precise world that had been built. But the ..."

I agree. I do love the cross-referencing among SK's books. I always get goosebumps when those little connections are mentioned in passing. Some of those connections become epic when involved with the Dark Tower series. I kind of like reading Wolves of the Calla as a semi-quasi sequel to 'Salems Lot.


message 9: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Arnold-wirick | 21 comments I have read all SK books except for this series I have all of them but for some reason can't get through book one it just breaks my heart :(


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy Goodwin | 17 comments The first part of book 1 is a little tough to get through, but believe me, after that it's worth it. Book 1 was probably my least favorite. I'll reserve judgment on my most favorite once I finish the series.


Michael Davis This may be a dumb question, but I just finished Wizard and Glass. Should my next one be the fifth book in the series or Wind Through the Keyhole? Goodreads shows that as book 4.5?
Thanks!


message 12: by Nate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nate (the_enobee) | 80 comments Michael wrote: "This may be a dumb question, but I just finished Wizard and Glass. Should my next one be the fifth book in the series or Wind Through the Keyhole? Goodreads shows that as book 4.5?
Thanks!"


Hi, Michael. Wind Through the Keyhole is not necessary to read before book 5, but I would highly recommend it. It advances the Ka-tet's story only slightly, as the majority of the book is a framed story that doesn't advance the overall arc. You would never know you skipped it, but it's a quick and enjoyable read and I wouldn't miss it.


message 13: by Troop (new)

Troop Leader Michael, I am Wolves now and don't feel I have missed anything. Stephen King is proving himself to be a Dickensian writer to me. I started reading him late in life. I can see that if I continue to read him I will forever be meeting up with characters from other books.
Did you enjoy Wizard & Glass? It was one of my favorites. Wolves is good too!!


Jennifer | 8 comments Carrie I had the same problem. Could not choke down book 1. I tried again several years later (all the hype couldn't be wrong, right?) and after I managed to slog through book 1, (cue angels singing, ray of light breaking through clouds) it may be the best King stuff ever. DEVOURED the rest of the series. Really, force yourself. I swear. :)


Kandice | 3974 comments I have read every word of King's as they are published, with the exception of the DT series. Every time I began a personal "thing' would interfere so I just avoided it. About 6 years ago Becky walked me through it and I have now read it all the way through twice with numerous re-reads of the graphic novels.

Saying this is King's "Magnum Opus" sounds pretentious, but it is so, so true. There is very little about it I don't love. Even the things I don't embrace I would never want changed.


Donna (earthreader) | 24 comments I just finished book 6, and I didn't have a problem with King turning himself into a character. But I did have a problem with him turning his characters into characters, if that makes any sense. Good fiction writers strive to convince the reader that their characters are real, enabling a bond to develop so the reader has a stake in what happens to them. So why would King go against this principle when suggesting that first Callahan, then the others exist because he created them as fictional characters? Did this bother anyone else? I thought it was ridiculous and it pretty much ruined my suspension of disbelief that these fine characters are "real."


Kandice | 3974 comments Donna wrote: "I just finished book 6, and I didn't have a problem with King turning himself into a character. But I did have a problem with him turning his characters into characters, if that makes any sense. Go..."

I can see your point but felt very differently. Because he was able to write them so vividly and with such skill they became real which, in some weird way, made them even more real to me than other written characters. They not only lived as he was writing them and later as readers read them, but actually lived lives because living things must live.

That seems hokey as I read what I just typed, but hopefully someone understands me.


message 18: by Becky (last edited Aug 29, 2014 06:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Donna wrote: "I just finished book 6, and I didn't have a problem with King turning himself into a character. But I did have a problem with him turning his characters into characters, if that makes any sense. Go..."

I don't agree. I think after book 7, it will come together and you might see it differently - but I don't see King as writing himself in and then claiming that his characters aren't real. Or not just entirely that. His character self doesn't believe that the characters he's written are real... but the story reality is saying something very different. He's like a portal of creation, and what he writes, at least as it pertains to the story of the Tower, becomes real. He (character King) just doesn't want to believe it.

Have you read Insomnia, Donna? Or seen Kingdom Hospital?


message 19: by Donna (last edited Aug 29, 2014 06:24PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Donna (earthreader) | 24 comments Becky wrote: "Donna wrote: "I just finished book 6, and I didn't have a problem with King turning himself into a character. But I did have a problem with him turning his characters into characters, if that makes..."

I see your point about King's characters becoming real after he's written them, as in breathed life into them. But I have to say that thinking of it that way bends my mind. Would this be comparable in any way to The Dark Half character becoming real? I did read Insomnia a long time ago, so I don't remember much other than it being a very long book. How does it relate to this book? And what is Kingdom Hospital? In any case, I did enjoy book 6 despite my complaints, and I'll keep an open mind as I see how the series concludes sometime this year.


Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Donna wrote: "Becky wrote: "Donna wrote: "I just finished book 6, and I didn't have a problem with King turning himself into a character. But I did have a problem with him turning his characters into characters,..."

Kingdom Hospital is a mini-series. It was originally a Danish show, but King adapted it for the US. Here's the Wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_...

How it relates is that Insomnia/Kingdom Hospital both have characters whose art becomes real... similar to the way what character King writes becomes real.


Donna (earthreader) | 24 comments Thanks for the link and for taking the time to explain things. It is a different way of looking at things than how I originally saw them.


Becky (beckyofthe19and9) No problem! I can talk DT until the cows come home. And I don't have cows, so it could be a long time. ;)

If you can pick up a copy of Kingdom Hospital, it's actually pretty good for early 2000s TV, and it has other similarities/links to other King stories as well.

....And now I want to watch it again. *sigh* Off to Amazon!


Donna (earthreader) | 24 comments Thanks. I might check that out if I can find someone willing to watch it with me. I have no problem reading horror alone, but watching it alone? No. :)


Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I understand completely. I'm much more freaked out by horror that I watch than horror that I read as well. It's gotten worse as I get older, too. I used to be able to watch horror movies by myself at 2am with no problem. Now... not so much. LOL

Although, I do have a crazy story about watching horror by myself that may have contributed to the fact that I'm a big horror movie wuss now.

Back in early 2003, I had just moved to Virginia and was staying with my mom until I found my own place. It was late, I think around midnight, and I was by myself, and I decided to watch The Ring. I'm watching it just fine until right after the main character watches the tape for the first time and then her phone rings. At that exact moment, my mom's DVD player froze and MY phone rang.

I answered it... but all I heard was static, so I hung right up. And then it rang again. I answered it again (I wasn't gonna let any creepy phone ghost get the best of me! LOL) and it was my boyfriend who was just in a bad cell reception area. I was like "OMG DO YOU KNOW YOU JUST GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK??!"

Turns out the DVD player was a super cheap one from Walmart and would overheat and freeze... but man. I was SO FREAKED OUT. And now I'm a big wuss when it comes to horror movies. But I can still read horror with no problems.


Donna (earthreader) | 24 comments Wow. What a story. But at least you have a good reason to be freaked out about it. My only excuse for not watching things like that alone is that I'm a wimp. :)


Becky (beckyofthe19and9) LOL yeah, but that's an acceptable reason too. ;)


Donna (earthreader) | 24 comments Thanks. I'll try to remember that. ;)


message 28: by Judy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Judy Goodwin | 17 comments Okay, I'm well into Book 7 now (about 40% or so) and to answer Donna's question, I don't see it as King making his characters into characters, but instead making himself into a prophet of some kind that sees realities that others in "Real" Earth can't see. So that makes him not so much a creator as the voice of Gan/God, revealing what already exists.

Lol but there's the whole paradox of worrying if something happens to King if it will wipe out everything. I think it's an interesting juxtaposition.


Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Hmm... I don't see it that way, not as himself as a person really believing that he's the pen of God (kinda egotistical) but I agree if we're talking about the character of King being the pen of Gan.


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