Friday, January 27, 2012
Constant Reading Project: Please Stand Up
Reading "The Stand" and being sick, however, is a level of paranoia that is ridiculous. You start to think you have the flu, then the superflu. And then you start to contemplate the end of the world as you know it. Of course, if you are sick, you won't be one of the survivors.
Surviving is what Stephen King's fourth novel is about. Survive Captain Trips, survive your journey to Nebraska, Boulder or Las Vegas. Live through your choice.
And that's the other important aspect of the novel, to me. A very well-read friend of mine recently read "The Stand." She doesn't like the sometimes demonic paths King takes, but, as she said, there is a balance in "The Stand" that makes it better.
"The Stand" is a battle between good and evil. But it isn't a nice guy with no beliefs versus some random unidentifiable evil. It is the Christian God versus Satan. Each side has its representatives, even if they don't completely give in to the theology behind the forces propelling them forward.
Let's stop right there for a second. I have something to tell you. If this makes you feel closer to me, great. If it makes you think I'm some kind of weird hypocrite, well, you are entitled to your opinion.
I'm a Christian. I believe in God and Jesus. I'm part of a church. As it relates to "The Stand," I like to think I'd follow Mother Abigail and not Randall Flagg. This has not always been the case, but that's how it is now.
What matters is that King understands what can make people choose one side or the other. he gives his characters -- and his readers -- free agency. You get to identify with noble characters such as Stuart Redman and deceived characters such as Lloyd Henreid. The folks who take up in Boulder aren't perfect. They have doubts and reservations. It takes the very rational Glen Bateman a while to accept the irrationality of the situation. Those who follow the Walkin' Dude aren't entirely bad. Sure, some are. Some (Trashcan Man comes to mind) never really got a chance at life.
You get to make your own choices and I get to make mine. I've lived in Las Vegas but I've chosen to live, figuratively, in Boulder now.
That's my soapbox. I've made my stand. Let's get back to the book.
What a beast. As previously mentioned, I couldn't get a hold of the original 823-page version. I tried. So I read the 1,152-page complete & revised edition. You could kill someone with this book. (But don't, please.)
Many still believe this is King's masterpiece and it's hard to argue against that. The scope of the novel is incredible. It has a cast that slowly grows then takes its lumps. There are the, well, you can't really call them characters ... The people whose stories get mentioned, but aren't part of the forward momentum. But they add to the realism. Not everyone survived. And later, your favorite character might get blown up.
There are still people who haven't read this, so I'm trying to keep some things under wraps.
"The Stand" is a huge book and is worth the time it takes to get through it.
The page count in the Constant Reading Project is 2,873. We have a long way to go. Next up is "The Dead Zone."