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I actually had no plans to read this but got it for Christmas by accident, as Spouse bought it for someone who turned out to already have it. It was OK but different from King's usual product in that there were zero supernatural elements in three of the four stories (the exception was the Devil); the slightly not-normal element in one of the others (rats, again -- he does have a thing for rats) might have simply been hallucinations. The first story, "1922," was just deeply, deeply sad (and a little heavy on grossness/gore), although I was expecting a very different ending for the son so props for the unexpected there. "Big Driver" I thought could have been about 30% shorter (many many pages on her crawling through the woods and down the road, and the excuse given for her not reporting the rape was pretty thin). But "Fair Extension" was great -- a traditional deal-with-the-devil story, with the twist that the man doesn't end up regretting it at all; what he bargained for turns out to be exactly what he wanted and he enjoys it thoroughly (though it isn't nice at all). And the last one, "A Good Marriage," was fantastic -- old-fashioned tension cranked up wire-tight in the best Hitchcock tradition, reminiscent of Gaslight, perhaps. Ten of ten for that one.

This was interspersed with a long, long, LONG overdue re-read of the Fionavar Tapestry. Every time I fall into those books I'm more in awe of his skill in story-telling, world-building, character development, and evocation of raw emotion. He's like Tolkien in the grand sweep of the story, but totally unlike him in that Tolkien's main characters are primarily "little people" both physically and in terms of power (apart from Gandalf and Aragorn, of course), while the Fionavar books are crammed with kings, gods, half-gods, legendary and mythic beings, larger-than-life men and women. I mean, King Arthur and Lancelot -- come on! And yet they're all so human, so vulnerable, so bound up with our most human elements: bitterness, hatred, despair, fear; love, hope, courage and trust. And freedom -- cutting across it all is the randomness of free choice, the knowledge that above and beyond anything else, we still have a say in our fates.

Exponentially different as King and Kay are, I envy both of them their sheer productiveness and their mastery of their chosen forms of the craft.

Up next: Sandman, The Wake. And possibly a re-read of the awesome and heavily-fictionally-footnoted Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Yay for vacations and massive stretches of unallocated time!!


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Dec. 29th, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
I love the footnotes in Jonathan Strange about as much as the main text. :)
Jan. 2nd, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
The other Master of the Footnote is early Terry Pratchett -- they're as funny as the main text, and the fact that he's saying these hilarious things in a format as traditionally dry and scholarly as THE FOOTNOTE make it all even funnier by contrast. He spoofed himself in his 2004 book Once More, With Footnotes.
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