Tuesday 12 June 2012
Devouring Stephen King: The Dark Half
I bet that first paragraph there has left you filled with confidence at the brilliance this review is going to contain! Yeah, sorry about that, but really, what did you expect? (Rare Melancholia reference there, blink-and-you'll-miss-it style).
So. The Dark Half. It was better than The Tommyknockers, let's just say that for starters. Shorter, too. It's also a Castle Rock book, just like The Dark Half and Cujo (both of which are, OF COURSE, referenced in this book), which means that, as well as all being set in the Castle Rock area of Maine (which I only assume is a real place, it could be entirely fictional*) they all have a similar-ish tone, in that the supernatural is only partially involved, and if it is, it's normally connected to something else that's a lot more crime-ish. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this- sure it's nice to have a break from having to jump every time something scary is about to happen, but also... I like the horror! AND I miss it, because, well, stupid aliens and a killer coke machine does not a horror story make.
Anyway, The Dark Half is basically all about alter egos coming to life and making one's actual life a living hell. It's also about parasitic twins in a really loose I-can't-be-bothered-to-properly-explain-this way, so let's talk about the fact that this book is a reaction to Stephen King being 'outed' as Richard Bachman and how THAT is kind of the only way in which this is interesting. The moral of the story, if you look at it in that way, is almost 'be careful when you try to kill off a pseudonym, because that guy might not like it...' which, I think, would be a scarier prospect if you killed off Stephen King rather than Richard Bachman, but I guess that depends on whether you're more scared of supernatural clowns and shit, or just, like, people who basically snap one day. I know I should be more scared of the latter, but CLOWNS ARE SCARY, you guys!
I'm not really scared of either, anyway, because the catalyst for this whole 'pen name coming alive' thing is never really fully described, and while I guess I should be more like 'it's supernatural, there is no reason for it' because it IS a Castle Rock book, what I expect for them is a reason for things happening the way they do, and then for the supernatural to have a practical use (a la The Dead Zone). That really doesn't happen here, and so I was kind of uneasy the whole time I was reading just thinking 'well, yeah, but HOW did that happen?' It seems pretty stupid to expect a proper explanation for Stephen King things, BUT I've never really felt so uneasy accepting something (suspending my disbelief, if you will) as I did reading The Dark Half, which I guess is the majority of its problems.
So. In spite of all I've said it's really not a terrible book, and I got through it pretty breezily, without much worrying about the things that happened because I didn't fully accept them. I did like the thoughts about not really knowing where writing comes from (I only write blog posts, and I barely know) and the kind of insight into some of the anger that King had from Bachman being outed, but other than that... I'm not exactly rushing to read it again. But, it is still better than The Tommyknockers, so there is always that. As long as you can ignore the constant mention of birds.
*And hey, look who can't even be bothered to do Wikipedia research again. Shut up, I'm ill!