Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Devouring Stephen King (As Richard Bachman): Blaze
I don't always read introductions to books (because more often than not they are riddled with spoilers), but the introduction King has written for Blaze was pretty much crucial to my enjoyment of the book. From it, I learned that Blaze is essentially the fifth of the four early Bachman books, never published but written even before Carrie. This meant that any instances of clunky writing (and there were a few) and anything I didn't really like I could essentially overlook because, hey, the kid was young, give him a break! He ALSO, however, says that the story is a kind of homage to Of Mice and Men, and even though I might not have made that connection myself, I fully read it with that in mind which made every single page of it fully poignant and just sobbbbsiiiiiigh.
So, the book. King's Bachman books tend to be more psychological than his horror ones, so even though they can still be horrible, there's not really anything supernatural going on in them (think Misery, not The Shining). They also tend to be a little bit social justice-y something which King, again in the introduction, sounds a little bit ashamed of, but there's no need to be. Rarely when he gets up on his high horse does he overdo it, and in my opinion he doesn't overdo it in Blaze either.
Now, the story I guess? We are introduced to Blaze as he's in the process of stealing a car, a thing which you think would make him a bad guy but in fact, as we are to discover through the whole book, he's really just a kinda nice guy who does bad things because he's not too bright. We also discover that he's not too bright because his dad threw him down the stairs a few times when he was little, and this is just the first of many things that make Blaze's actions not really his own fault.
Blaze is the kind of guy who is easily coerced into things, but also the kind of guy who really should be being taken care of by the state. He's not smart enough to remember to change his underwear, and he's not smart enough to not hold up the same gas station two nights in a row. His closest friend George has recently been killed in some crime related drama (if you're thinking I can't remember exactly why, you would be 100% correct) and Blaze is completely alone, reliant on the life of crime that he's learnt to be reliant on to get by.
Like genuinely, it's really fucking sad.
The story is pretty much told both through Blaze's present actions of his one big score, and his past upbringing that explains exactly how he's got into such a position in the first place. This means that, even as Blaze is doing very morally questionable things (and, rest assured, he does quite a lot of that) there's always an overriding feeling of sympathy for him because the odds seem as stacked against him as they have for all the rest of his life. The thing you come away from this book with, is that Blaze is essentially a good guy, it's just the world that has been so consistently shitty for him because (and here's the Bachman book part) the world is basically just a pile of shit.
So yes. This is maybe not the best book to read if you're feeling kind of shitty about the world, but regardless it is a pretty good one. I'm tempted to call it my favourite Bachman book but I don't think that would be fair considering I read the other 5 literally 5 years ago (yeah. Wow.) and can hardly remember them. So let's just say, I liked this book and will allow you to read it.