Friday, July 27, 2012
This post marks the end of a nine-week readalong of The Stand by Stephen King. Thank you so much to those who decided to Standalong with me. I hope that you'll share your final thoughts on the book in the comments section or via the linky down below. This post will be a mixture of regular book post and some leading points.
Title: The Stand
Author: Stephen King
Published: 1978/1990; Pages: 1153
Narrator: Grover Gardener
Audio Duration: 47 hrs, 52 min
Genre: Epic Freaking Fiction
In Short: At the end of the world as we know it everyone's gotta take a stand.
Why I read/listened: Have always been curious about it but I started looking for The Stand seriously after learning it's one of Debi's favorite books. Knowing that I needed some motivation to actually get to it, I made it one of my 2012 "Things" and then enticed you all to join me. Smooches.
Thoughts in General: Right now as of 10:33 on Thursday night before this post published I liked this book. I wavered between a 4 and 4.5 rating but ultimately went with the 4.5 because I know that a year from now I'll still be thinking about this book. I spent two months with these characters and though I'm so glad to be finished with the book I still want to know what's going to happen next. The Stand is one of those books that will burrow under your skin and become a part of you...whether you want it to or not.
The book is long. Really long. And there are an extraordinary amount of characters (with emphasis on extra). The plot meanders and plods along and unlike some of the other Standalong participants I never felt the pull that I had to know what happened next. But even though The Stand is beastly [and next time I read it I'll opt for the 400 page shorter original], there is such a richness in King's creation that I have never experienced before. I'm not even sure the word "epic" is adequate--the level of detail was incredible and the characters were ones that I came to love and to hate because they were flawed and real. A small part of me wants to say that this book was too long but I'm just not sure that's right. Do you think the book was too long? What would be cut?
Is The Stand scary? Last night when I was heading to bed in the complete dark I felt a red eye on me. I hadn't even read The Stand that day. I literally ran into bed and pulled the covers over my head. But the book isn't truly scary. There were definitely parts that would give me nightmares if I could see them (people mummified in their cars?!) but it's almost more of a psychological kind of scary. Captain Trips seems utterly impossible but is it? Could the dark man reincarnate? Does the center hold? Going into The Stand I was convinced that this book was going to be scary and it wasn't. Not in that way. Yes, I realize that this paragraph makes no sense. Did you find The Stand scary?
Major Spoilers. The ending of the book didn't surprise me in the least. There were too many hints at what was going to arise but I wasn't disappointed either. I'd love to know your thoughts on the ending--were you surprised or did you see it coming. I loved the last two lines and they'll continue to stick with me: "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" (1153). So much of this book felt like a good versus evil battle and the common belief is that one must prevail over the other but can there be one without the other? Even as Stu pondered what Glen would say about the Free Zone and the nature of society and the way that it functions hit me. What would have happened if those three hadn't gone west to face the walkin' dude? And since this is a spoiler section, can I just note that I'm royally pissed off about what happens to Nick and Larry? Nevermind the others but really King? Really?
The one quote I marked: The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance...or change. Once such incantatory phrases as "we see now through a glass darkly" and "mysterious are the ways He chooses His wonders to perform" are mastered, logic can be happily tossed out the window. Religious mania is one of the few infallible ways of responding to the world's vagaries, because it totally eliminates pure accident. To the true religious maniac, it's all on purpose" (617).
Bottom Line: Hi guys. Can you all fly to Dallas so we can just get some coffee or drinks and chat about this one? Great! Thanks! I'll even take you two-stepping at Billy Bob's in Fort Worth.
Serious Bottom Line: The Stand is an incredibly rich and complex novel with multi-layered themes and characters. Anyone who tells you differently is full of shit. But beyond being consumed by The Stand for two months, I gained an appreciation for Stephen King as a first time reader of his works. His writing and the story were truly living and breathing and perhaps a bit popculterish but almost unlike anything I've read before. I think I'm too timid to continue reading more King (though I am curious about 11/23/63) but M-O-O-N spells King, laws yes.
A Note on the Audio: When I realized that I wasn't going to be able to reading this bad boy in 9 weeks (yes, I really am that lame), I opted to supplement with the audiobook version narrated by Grover Gardner. It. Was. Fantastic. I did listen on 1.5x for most of the book to keep up my pacing but I loved Gardner's narration. His voice is gravelly, which took some time to get used to, but once I did I knew that he was the perfect choice of narrator. His voice added just the right amount of grit to really make this novel seep into your bones. Through Gardner's narration the book truly came to life and when I had time to pick up the actual book I found that it fell flat in comparison. The time commitment on the audio is huge but I highly recommend it.
Enough of my rambling...I'd love to hear your thoughts:
And seriously--what do you guys think about a #standalong twitter party? Weeknight? Weekend? The only day day that I could commit would be Saturday or Sunday when I'm not working.
Have you read The Stand? What did you think?