Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Constant Reading Project: what's at stake here?

I've been told not to get too cocky about this project. Yes, I have averaged 110 pages in the first week, but there's a long way to go still. I'll try to stay humble.

I finished 'Salem's Lot last night. The version I read had 479 pages. In other words, the two books I've read so far combined have fewer pages than the first version of The Stand (still two books away).

'Salem's Lot has three of the scariest scenes ever written in American English. That's not hyperbole, either. Mark Petrie's first encounter with a vampire, Ben Mears and Dr. Jimmy Cody waiting to see if a recently deceased resident really is dead and Dr. Cody's grisly demise are pure nightmare fodder. (On a side note, only the scene of Mark fending off a vampire has been well-portrayed in either of the TV adaptations. Cody's death, particularly, hasn't been as well-translated as I'd hope. It's just one of those things that will always be worse in my head than can ever be on film.)

This is also the book that I would say established King's voice. As previously discusses, Carrie relies too much on "outside sources" to tell its story.  'Salem's Lot, on the other hand, has a large cast, some of whom never interact with each other; the classic small town setting; the length to let characters and the story develop; and a quick ending.

Have you ever noticed that? How sometimes King's books build up to a huge climax and are then just over? Sure, there's usually some denouement, some resolution. In 'Salem's Lot,  as in much of King's work, the resolution is that bad shit is still out there and needs to be dealt with.

When I was a young teenager, this was one of the first King books I read. It's stuck with me and is among the first that I recommend for anyone wanting a good scare. For me, it's certainly the best vampire book of the 20th century.

Up next: The Shining.

1 comment:

  1. You are very lucky to be able to do something you love so much! This and The Shining scared the crap out of me. I must say the scariest one though was IT. I think it is the clown thing more than anything. Still not OK with clowns.