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Childe Roland to the dark tower came...

Finished the last of the Dark Tower series (seven of them! hence the gaps in posting). This is a seriously epic work, and I'm not referring to the length (ok, not JUST the length). The technical elements (theme, character, plot, etc) are all present and accounted for in a more than satisfactory manner, but you've also got personal, universal, ethical, historical, literary elements merging in a huge tapestry that marches across years and time and space, all three of which get folded together in some very odd ways. Injecting himself into the story (what he refers to in one Afterword as "metafiction") could have come across as gratuitous ego-stroking or cheap parlor tricks but somehow it doesn't. As with the Harry Potter books I noticed many more details, caught a lot more small plot points, and -- despite having read it before -- was utterly surprised by at least two things in the last hundred or so pages. For one thing, I thought Susannah died (certainly everybody else does); that she ends up in an alternate New York with Jake and Eddie was a complete surprise. No doubt Oy comes along sooner or later as well. For another, I had forgotten how Roland vanquishes the Crimson King, getting Patrick to draw him and then erase him (very cool!). I felt much more sympathy for Roland, and for the immense forces shaping his fate, or ka, as he calls it; even though he trails death behind him like a shroud, I loved him just a little.

Too, the end seemed fitting this time, rather than disappointing, which was my reaction the first time through, although it did leave several unanswered questions at the end: I still don't understand why Roland has the horn in the next incarnation. Clearly he's been through this several many times before, so what is it that triggers a change? He doesn't seem to have done anything to effect it. He circles back to a point in time after he's already lost the horn, at least it appears so; so how did he get it? Why? Does he just have a certain number of repeats he has to go through, or did he learn something new or do something different this time that got him closer? The clear implication is that this will be the last time, since he has the horn; what will happen then??. Bottom line: Stephen King may be something of an overachiever in the verbage department, but when he hits his stride very few people can touch him. Two thumbs up.

On another note, we saw District 9 this afternoon. Yowza. The words "gritty and realistic" come to mind; usually those simply mean that lots of people die and lots of stuff gets blown up, both of which I must admit do happen in abundance in this movie (don't see it right before going to dinner unless you consider blood splatter an appetite enhancer), but more than that the main character, Wikus van der Merwe, was very real. He's not some epic heroic figure, he's just a regular guy trying to do his job who gets sucked into a truly hideous situation. You don't like him much for most of the story, but in the end he's ...well, still not a hero but he does show the best parts of being human -- compassion, loyalty, courage, hope. That's what I liked about it: they didn't try to turn him into some holier-than-thou better-than-the-rest-of-you savior -- instead they show that even some pencil-pushing bureaucrat is able to do the right thing when it counts. Maybe that is heroic after all, just in a different way.


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Aug. 24th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
I had the same questions about the ending of DT, but consider it King's best wrap up on any of his longer works except The Talisman.
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