January 22nd, 2005

Whale fluke

Thankee-sai, Stephen King

Another moment of sincerity:

As I said in my list of books that I read last year, I think I needed a story like Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.

Two nights ago, I reached the end, after starting November 6th with The Gunslinger. Seven books, 3,700 pages, and much imagery that is brutal and difficult and gut-wrenching as Roland the Gunslinger traveled Mid-World, the Tolkien-meets-spaghetti western land that King conjured. It feels like something I’ve read before, as if I already knew this story somehow: hell, I even talked like some of the characters before I ever read it! (I’ll sometimes say “I know not” instead of “I don’t know”; turns out that phrase is used often in Mid-World.)

Like others who’ve read it, I’m going to protect its ending, much the way people protected The Sixth Sense‘s ending for a long time, though I’ll say that I had an inkling The Dark Tower would end the way it did. Interestingly, a few pages before the finale, King addresses the readers directly: You might not want to read what’s next. It might piss you off. He even provides a scene that you can regard as the true ending, just in case you think he’s right.

I think the third book, 1991’s The Waste Lands, might be my favorite of the run, the book where the border between the world as I know it and the world King describes is thinnest and most transparent. I say thank you, sir, for the view.

I leave you with a reference list: the books in order:

The Gunslinger, begun 1970, published 1982, revised 2003
The Drawing of the Three, published 1987
The Waste Lands, published 1991
Wizard and Glass, published 1997
Wolves of the Calla, published 2003
Song of Susannah, published 2004
The Dark Tower, published 2004

“People remember big things,” Neil Gaiman once said. This is Stephen King’s true Big Thing.
Whale fluke

Laughs and usefulness

Haircut? Check. Library books returned? Done. Laundry? One load down, one to go. Calling my cousin who’s teaching in Reno? Check. And that was my Friday. Today I left home early to help my friend Michol move stuff from a one-bedroom apartment to a nearby two-bedroom place where she’ll live next month. It took three men – me, her dad, and her friend J.J. – to get her entertainment center to the new place. “Third man’s a charm,” I said. I got lunch out of the deal.

The last out-and-about thing I did today was to go to the Laurelhurst Theatre for Eddie Murphy Raw, his 1987 comedy film. I forgot how good a mimic Murphy is: for the purposes of a joke, he spent two minutes (a long time on stage for a comedian) doing a parody of Bill Cosby. That takes confidence, friends, the confidence you’re not going to lose the audience and get them impatient to hear your material. (He did this while telling how Cosby once criticized him for swearing in his stand-up, but tried not to swear or even use the word “swearing” while doing this and in the process totally confused and angered Murphy. It’s good stuff.) There’s also a fun sketch at the front of the film, of the Murphy family celebrating Thanksgiving in 1968 and young Eddie Murphy telling dick-and-fart jokes to increasingly horrified cousins. Look carefully and you see a 39-year-old Samuel L. Jackson… yes, the man didn’t become a star until he was in his mid-40s…