Monday 25 February 2013

Devouring Stephen King: Desperation

"'Oh no, praying is great, without it the thumbscrews and the Iron Maiden probably never would have been invented.'"

The last time I read Desperation, I vividly remember that it was juuust at the end of summer, where it was still warm enough to read outside, but there was a delicious little breeze that meant it wasn't too hot, and everything seemed right with the world and this book felt like the best book ever. That was pretty much the pinnacle of reading, as summer reading always is for me, and it has made me really fond of this book ever since.

This time around, it took me about a month to read. It's way too cold to read outside, I've been reading other things, I've neglected it because I felt weirdly rebellious about 'having' to re-read a book when I 'should' have been reading all the other books I have not. It just didn't feel as good as it did last time, because re-reading something in the winter that you associate with summer just isn't, and there's not a lot you can do about that. Other than, I suppose, saving that book for the summer, again. Which maybe I should have done.

But, all is not lost! It turns out that I'd just forgotten that this book is a little bit of a slow starter, at least for me. It takes quite a while for all the characters to get assembled, and even longer for them to figure out what they're supposed to do, but somewhere in the last third of the book, everything suddenly falls into place and it's such a relief and almost a pleasure, that you realise what all the rest of the book was for, and where this story's been going all along. And that place is really kind of depressing, but then, you knew there was a reason I liked it, didn't you?

Should I tell you something about the story? I probably should, huh? Desperation almost starts in the middle, where a catastrophe that we learn more about as the characters do has already happened, and the main characters are all being collected by a psychotic police officer who has (literally) gotten too big for his boots. They're just as perplexed as we are as to why they've been arrested, and why this man has killed some of their loved ones, and so are we. There isn't a point where they know any more than we do, and I think that's kind of a rare thing in a Stephen King book. *Puts on Stephen King experty hat*

I'll tell you one thing about this reading of Desperation though- there's something about it that I never ever would have realised if I hadn't been reading all of his books, in order, and it made me feel weirdly vindicated for reading like that. SO, a main character in this book, Cynthia (who is, by the way, super wicked awesome and probably the best female character in it and you SHOULD HAVE GIVEN HER MORE TO DO, KING) was a minor character in Rose Madder, and when I realised this I was in the bath and literally went 'oh SHIT!' fairly loudly so that my mum went 'are you ok?!' apparently thinking I was drowning or something. But connections between books is one of those things that are my favourite things for books to do, so I was pretty pleased with myself for reading all the King. For once.

There's just one more thing I want to discuss about Desperation, and it's a God thing. To my knowledge *adjusts the hat* this is the first and maybe only time that God, as in the actual, Christian concept of a God comes into play in one of King's novels in any major way. There are always major forces at work, sure, and some of them are good, but never anything so, I don't know, traditional as God. I don't know what my point is here, really, other than that this God is maybe a liiiittle bit selfish, quite a lot cruel, and if the kinds of signs He sends out actually happened, I'd have a lot of a harder time being a non-God person. (I would say atheist, but they seem to be forming their own 'religion' now, and the thing I like least about the whole God thing is the organised religion thing, so.) 

My other point is, I wonder where King was at when he wrote this. I don't really know anything about his religious beliefs, but I think I'd always thought of him as not really having any? But then, maybe he was at the point of not-drinking where he was trying to get all religious since, in my understanding of it, that's how AA works? I don't know. Either way, I'm kind of glad that whatever was going on with him was, because the exploration of God in this is really kind of clever, doesn't involve organised religion, and made me think about some things. Also whilst scaring the bejeezus out of me, which it doesn't do quite as much any more, but still... There's some scary shit going down in the desert.

Basically, I'm a big fan of this book. I recommend reading it laying on a blanket in your back garden on a warm summer's afternoon, but even without those optimum conditions, it's still pretty great. 


  1. Another King novel to add to my list of 'King Novels I Must Read, Thanks To Laura'. In fact, I should probably just read another King novel soon, full stop. I have loads and I've STILL only read Pet Sematary. I think I might need a read-a-thon or something, get some hardcore reading time in now I'm Back In The Game at last. I've got two days off ahead, with only a cinema trip tomorrow night breaking it up, so maybe I'll get me some pizza and yummy things and settle in to some serious book time! :)

    Hope you're feeling a bit better now... *squishy hugs* xx

    1. By the way, that was IN The Game, not ON The Game, in case you were worrying about where my book funds are coming from. ;)

    2. YAY serious book time! I really have to encourage reading more Stephen King, because, you know, he's my GUY! (Did you like Pet Semetary? I liked it plenty, but it's not even one of my favourites!) But anyway, I support your possible future actions :)

      I am feeling a bit better, but also still a bit like 'bluergh food, you are grooooss.' Which makes me super sad, obviously :(

      (LOL prostitute joke! Always good :D)

  2. I am just going to have this constant list of SK books I need to read, huh?

    Also the God thing, what about Green Mile which was ALL ABOUT John Coffey = JC? Is this God stuff sorta like that?

    1. You should maybe just read them all from the beginning? Like, you know, all the cool kids (me) are doing. This one is especially good though, I think :)

      OMG JOHN COFFEY AND JC WTF?! You've just blown my mind, and also, I totally get it! This is fucking amazing. But the God stuff in Desperation is more like God is LITERALLY guiding things. And not always in a good way. But in a way to make what needs to happen, happen. There are miracles and alllll sorts!