Commencing The Dark Tower

One of the writers on “tor.com”:http://tor.com elected to take on Stephen King’s _The Dark Tower_ series. The significant difference is that where most of the posters on Tor are doing “re-reads”–guiding others through the books–this is a read-along, so you get to watch as someone else encounters the book for the first time.

Of course, I could do that just fine by myself–I’d never read it, though I remember Patrick talking about it when the first volume was finally widely-released in a trade paperback format in ’88–so I figured what the hell, I’d follow along. Unlike my recent plunge into Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin books, though, I decided I would take advantage of my local library. I don’t necessarily see these as being evergreen re-reads.

I finished _The Gunslinger_ in short order. It is interesting to realize how spare the writing is compared to most of King’s work. Some people have suggested that this is because it was such an early story, or because it was originally serialized–basically, because King couldn’t get away with over-writing.

Now, personally, I do not get as annoyed as some with King’s prose, or the length of his books, or even the stuff that could have been cut–I don’t find the text offensive to read, so it doesn’t outright bother me, and it’s not like his stories are generally laden down with anything as awkward and didactic as John Galt’s radio broadcast.

(Ask me about the Kevin Anderson/Brian Hebert “Dune” books, and you will get an entirely different answer, Their individual Wikipedia articles are better prose and better stories. But a lot of people think that about Frank Herbert’s sequels, too.)

Anyway, I think, actually, that it is a conscious choice on King’s part, though only the remainder of the series will prove me right or wrong. I think it’s intended to be a reflection of the character, who is himself a somewhat spare individual. The atmosphere isn’t that of a horror novel, really. It brings me to mind, for more reasons than one, of Samuel Delaney’s _Dhalgren_. Which I suppose I should get back to one day, though I already read the ending.

Anyway, I fear that the whole series really isn’t going to last long, unless the later books are more true to King’s prose form and take longer than these first two are.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.

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