It was touch-and-go around the 750 page mark, I was even considering skimming. But I finally did it. I finished The Stand. I closed my Nook’s cover with a snap and felt like celebrating. I think this may the longest book I’ve ever read.
So, did I like it? Hells yes. And I am SO surprised by that. The only other King books I’ve read are Misery, which was kinda meh, and One Writing, which while pretty good, got my jealous up when he talks about how he spends his days; writing, then reading. I mean UGH. So I wasn’t looking to read any more King, for, oh probably the rest of my life. Yet, when Trish decided to host her readalong of The Stand, I found myself considering. I’ve heard of The Stand, I’m not sure you can be a serious reader and not have heard of it. People started joining in, people who I like and then, there was Debi. My dear, dear, sweet Debi with her love of this book and I thought, what the heck. If Debi loves it, it must be good.
Thank you Debi.
So, what did I love about this book? The characters. All of them, except maybe the Walking Dude, the dark man, the one who must not be named (oh wait…). Stu, Frannie, Nick (Nick!), Mother Abagail, Tom Cullen, Glen (Glen!), Ralph, Larry, Lloyd, The Trashcan Man (but also, ugh!), and on and on. Because this book has all the characters, laws yes. M-O-O-N, that spells characters. One would expect quite a few in a tome that clocks in at 1,163 pages and it delivers. One would also worry that it would be difficult to create any well-rounded characters, with so many to move between, one would be mostly wrong. There are a few that are somewhat single-minded (hello Trashcan Man!), but they serve their purpose (and how!).
There is so much I wanted to talk about. I don’t even know where to begin. This is why I need to learn to take notes when I’m reading. I’m going to do something a little different. I’m going to post my favorite quotes first and take it from there.
“If I were being psychoanalyzed, I suppose the shrink would say the dream expresses my unconscious fear of some leader or leaders who will start the whole thing going again. Maybe a fear of technology in general. Because I do believe that all the new societies which arise, at least in the Western world, will have technology as their cornerstone. It’s a pity, and it needn’t be, but it will be, because we are hooked. They don’t remember-or don’t choose to remember-the corner we had painted ourselves into. The dirty rivers, the hole in the ozone layer, the atomic bomb, the atmospheric pollution. All they’ll remember is that once up on a time they could keep warm at night without expending much effort to do it. I’m a Luddite on top of my other failings, you see. But this dream…it preys on me, Stu.”
So, um, is Stephen King prophetic? I am assuming this is a section he added, or added to, in the 1990 edition. I would have been 12 then and I vaguely remember issues of the environment and such being discussed, but nowhere close to how it is now. And, actually, this is where I think King is at his scariest. It’s not the crucifixions, or the dismemberment, the supernatural walking the world, or the lack of medical care even. It’s the things we are doing now, the pollution, the possibility of chemical warfare, of any warfare, the cautions to clean up our act or we WILL wind up like this-that’s scary.
The seawind struck him full force, lifting his heavy growth of hair back form his forehead. He lifted his face into it, into the harsh-clean salt-smell of the blue animal. The combers, glassy blue-green, moved slowly in, their slopes becoming more pronounced as the bottom shallowed up beneath them, their peaks gaining first a curl of foam, then a curdly topping. Then they crashed suicidally against the rocks as they had since the beginning of time, destroying themselves, destroying an infinitesimally bit of the land at the same time. There was a ramming, coughing boom as water was forced deep into some half-submerged channel of rock that had been carved out over the millennia.
I just love this bit. Not only is it beautiful writing, it’s a message that the Earth is going to keep on keeping on, whether we’re here or not.
When he got back to the Zone-if he did get back to the Zone-he would have all of them he wanted. He would gorge on Pringle’s chips. And bask in the love of his friends. That was what was missing back there in Las Vegas, he decided-simple love. They were nice enough people and all, but there wasn’t much love int hem. Because they were too busy being afraid. Love didn’t grow very well in a place where there was only fear, just as plants didn’t grow very well in a place where it was always dark.
Can I just say I love Tom Cullen?
Life was such a wheel that no man could stand upon it for long.
And it always, at the end, came round to the same place again.
That’s the last two lines of the book. Somewhat bleak, yes? King doesn’t have a high opinion of civilization, does he? I find myself wondering what The Stand would be like if he took it, as he did in 1990 and updated it again. So many things didn’t exist then. The Internet. No iPads or iPhones. Social networking. The Simpsons. How would humanity react if something happened like this? We are so completely connected now, would we be able to bounce back? It’s a horribly fascinating thing to think about, isn’t it?
Okay, now that this post is reaching Kingian lengths, I’m going to wrap it up. Plus, I’ve been working on this for an hour and it’s time to go to work! Am I glad I read The Stand? Yes. Yes I am. Will I read more Stephen King? Uh…I’m not sure. I know there is another readalong coming up, this time of IT, which I’m pretty sure (sorry Jill!) I’m going to pass on. I hate clowns, I find even the cutest of them freaky, and I can’t stomach books where children are harmed. But yes, I do think I’ll be reading more sometime very soon.