Sunday, November 15, 2009

I miss Castle Rock

Title: Just After Sunset
Author: Stephen King
Bookmark: different offer, same bank

I read a lot of Stephen King growing up, which probably explains more about me than any other single statement I could make. I remember being fascinated that all the freaky shit in the world happened in or near Castle Rock, Maine (or in Mid-World, but that was eventually connected to Castle Rock, too). It was the same sort of phenomena that guaranteed that someone would die no matter where Jessica Fletcher went on vacation, and it would either be one of her friends, or one of her friends would be the main suspect. Later, I learned that all the freaky shit in Dean Koontz's version of the world happens in California, but he has a whole list of fixations.

Now that the King of Horror is moving towards years silver if not yet golden, it seems that he's doing the same thing as all the other retirees: moving to Florida. One of his latest novels, Dumas Key, is set in Florida, and although he returns to Maine for the latest offering (The Dome, whose cover, though impressively illustrated, contains not a single word to hint at what the hell the story is about. So I left it on the Barnes & Noble shelf, bitter at the insolence.), this latest collection of short stories is replete with Florida, keys, dune grass, and one passing mention of a gator. Even the protagonists are older. No more young, fit guys and their beautiful cohorts--now everyone is dumpy and middle-aged, and while it gives a bit of realism, I don't read Stephen King books for their realism. I read them because they start familiar, and then get exponentially unreal.

They're still good, they're still definitely Stephen King, even if they don't include as many pop-culture references as usual, and they still have his quirky gift for seeing horror in the most natural and familiar of places (in the last story, a man is trapped inside a tipped-over port-a-jon). I even liked the brief mention of my own alma mater, nowhere near Maine, but as unlikely as it is that all the weird stuff int he world happens in Castle Rock, it seems strange to me that his stories would retire to Florida along with their master. Even if he and his wife now have a home there.

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posted by reyn at 6:05 PM


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