The Official Stephen King Thread

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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Sep 20, 2019 12:52 pm

got the book now, will be starting it shortly
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby Wolfpack on Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:31 pm

Hopefully with this one there's no kiddie kiddie gang bang
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Sat Sep 21, 2019 1:32 am

I'm a little over 300 pages in and it's still good. Still not terribly original, but I don't expect much originality from King these days. But he can still do likable characters and piece of shit bad guys you want to see dead, so there you go. The weird kid talk has fallen by the wayside too.

Steve only has a few hundred pages left to shit the bed on this one.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Oct 04, 2019 4:38 pm

i finished it. it was ok.

in some ways, this book is a minor miracle... a modern-day King book centered around kids, with only minimal cringe-worthy dialogue or painfully obvious tech references. on the other hand, King's well-known (to anyone familiar with his twitter feed) feelings toward a certain popular-vote losing wannabe dictator are put on display from time to time. in most ways, though, this book pretty much fits the mold of most of his latter-day works: fairly involving while you're reading it, but longer than it needs to be, and ultimately forgettable. nothing original or groundbreaking here, though i've long given up on King producing anything like that anymore. the ending propels along nicely, though at times it plays like a psychotic Verizon commercial ("can you hear me now?"), and the very unsurprising reveal in the final pages (a bit of a nod to The Dead Zone?) doesn't have much impact, so when it's all over it's a bit of a "that's it" feeling. without the question mark.

i guess we should probably be happy that Holly Gibney never shows up during this thing at least... though based on the excerpt of his next book i just saw, it's only a temporary respite.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:36 pm

Better than the source material? Here's hoping. Not sure about seemingly making Holly a run of the mill psychic type. Maybe for legal reasons because of the phone company show?

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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:54 am

caruso_stalker217 wrote:Better than the source material? Here's hoping. Not sure about seemingly making Holly a run of the mill psychic type. Maybe for legal reasons because of the phone company show?



there better be a scene of a character using MapQuest to get to a Walmart, or i'm cancelling my subscription.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:27 am

TheBaxter wrote:
caruso_stalker217 wrote:Better than the source material? Here's hoping. Not sure about seemingly making Holly a run of the mill psychic type. Maybe for legal reasons because of the phone company show?



there better be a scene of a character using MapQuest to get to a Walmart, or i'm cancelling my subscription.


Well that goes without saying.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Mar 16, 2020 2:23 pm

The Outsider was alright... i felt like it was drawn out too long, especially in the middle, and could've worked better as a film or a shorter series. 10 episodes was just too long for the material. the best part of the book is over by episode 2, and then it's a lot of exposition and hand-wringing by the characters as they figure out who the monster is and what he is and struggle with their own skepticism. it was the weakest part of the book and same thing for the tv series. the ending with the final confrontation was an improvement though. also, no stupid overreliance on technology references.

speaking of...

Doctor Sleep

i finally got around to watching Doctor Sleep, the Shining sequel. and just like the original, the film version is an improvemnet over the book. unlike The Shining though, this film is much more faithful to the source material. it works equally well as a sequel to either the book or movie version of the Shining. and the few places where it diverges from the book, it improves on the source. in particular, they dropped the subplot regarding (book-spoiler) Jack Torrance's cheating and Danny's discovering he's actually related to Abra (/book-spoiler) which was my biggest complaint about the book. and like the outsider, they also manage to avoid all the cringe-worthy dialogue about iphone apps and shit, the True Knot instead relies on psychic powers to track people which makes a lot more sense since these people are all "shiners" themselves. they also drop the bit about the True Knot dying off after contracting measles... after all, who would believe in mass deaths from communicable diseases in this day and age? 8-) as such, i found the movie version of the bad guys to be more threatening than the book version, where they are already so weak and powerless that they don't come across as a particularly scary bunch.

also like the outsider, this was another example of someone improving on King's original ending. i liked the book ending, which tied back into the Shining in some cool ways... but the film goes a lot further and deeper, bringing in many more elements of Kubrick's film and the characters and locations involved. that stronger connection to The Shining really works to the film's advantage. the film also pays homage to Kubrick in other cool ways... like how Danny's job interview takes place in a room that looks practically identical to Jack's interview with the Overlook, or a later shot that is basically a snowy, night-time recreation of the Shining's opening tracking shot on the way to the Overlook.

btw, i had originally wondered how they would handle the casting of certain cameos ... one in particular... but sadly we do not get a CGI de-aged jack nicholson performance... or shelly duvall for that matter... though i suppose that's understandable. instead the parts of young danny and wendy, and jack's ghost at the overlook, are played by different actors, who somewhat resemble the originals but not entirely... it's a bit of uncanny valley territory there.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Mar 16, 2020 2:39 pm

caruso_stalker217 wrote:Yeah, it's kinda bothersome. Just look at something like Wizard and Glass. Roland is a damn capable fourteen year old, but even he is overconfident at times and that ends up costing him greatly. I think there needed to be a good "too big for your britches" scene for Abra. Something costly. A somewhat inconvenient kidnapping just doesn't cut it.

But, yeah, no way this thing gets adapted as a feature film. First off, no one wants to follow Kubrick's film. Second, they really can't follow his film because Doctor Sleep is too tied in to the original book. Thirdmost...this ain't good enough to be a real movie. I'm not even sure it's worth shooting for television.


i wonder if you've seen the film yet. it actually seemed like they took your notes and used them in making this movie.

well, all of them except the one about making it a small, character-driven indie film about a guy overcoming his alcoholism.

TheBaxter wrote:the biggest difference would be explaining why the Overlook isn't around anymore, but i'm sure they can come up with something. or more likely, they'd change the ending so that the Overlook was still standing.


8-)
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Fri Mar 27, 2020 3:34 am

TheBaxter wrote:
caruso_stalker217 wrote:Yeah, it's kinda bothersome. Just look at something like Wizard and Glass. Roland is a damn capable fourteen year old, but even he is overconfident at times and that ends up costing him greatly. I think there needed to be a good "too big for your britches" scene for Abra. Something costly. A somewhat inconvenient kidnapping just doesn't cut it.

But, yeah, no way this thing gets adapted as a feature film. First off, no one wants to follow Kubrick's film. Second, they really can't follow his film because Doctor Sleep is too tied in to the original book. Thirdmost...this ain't good enough to be a real movie. I'm not even sure it's worth shooting for television.


i wonder if you've seen the film yet. it actually seemed like they took your notes and used them in making this movie.

well, all of them except the one about making it a small, character-driven indie film about a guy overcoming his alcoholism.

TheBaxter wrote:the biggest difference would be explaining why the Overlook isn't around anymore, but i'm sure they can come up with something. or more likely, they'd change the ending so that the Overlook was still standing.


8-)


Caruso here, back from my self-imposed exile!

I actually did see DOCTOR SLEEP back in November and probably wrote a mini-review at the time.

It wound up being my favorite film of 2019. I love it. I think it is one of the best King adaptations ever made.

Mike Flanagan has massive filmmaker balls and I salute him for even to attempt making this film. Luckily he pulled it off and it's kinda fucking great.

He is at least as big a King fan as I am, but he also has talent and movie skills so he gets to do stuff like make good movies from books I don't like. He must have had similar problems with the book that I had, because he one hundred percent fixed every fucking thing wrong with it.

The bad guys manage not to be goofy and are even pretty menacing, despite having dumb names like Rose the Hat and Crow Daddy. But they still manage to get their asses handed to them in ways that don't feel dumb or underwhelming but like they've lived too long and gotten their way the whole time that they're taken completely off guard and get slaughtered and the audience feels really good about it. Which is how a lot of King baddies get their comeuppance.

Abra is still overpowered, but the good guys actually take losses in the movie so it doesn't feel like they get away with everything and there are stakes and shit matters. Also the young actress playing Abra is great and definitely sells the precocious King kid thing.

The scene with Dan/Abra and Crow Daddy in the van is the best shit in the movie. I don't quite remember how that stuff went down in the book, but I'm sure this was an improvement.

Dan's alcoholism actually fucking matters and pays off at the end during his scene with "The Bartender" when he refuses the drink that his father would have taken without hesitation. Ewan Macgruber is far from my favorite actor, but he killed this fucking scene. Describing the deathflies on his mother's face and all that. This and the scene where he stands up at AA and talks about his dad is where he really "shines" in this film.

And, oh yeah, really paying off the whole lockbox thing and not using it in some throwaway bullshit scene at the end to kill some random fucking mook.

No iPhone stuff.

So really the story just needed a few tweaks to make it work. Borrowing unused elements from the original novel was clever, basically just transplanting King's original ending to this film. Flanagan wants to have his cake and eat it too and mostly it works.

I'll admit that the Overlook stuff is weaker than the rest of the film, but I loved the film so much I was able to "overlook" (Jesus) the more masturbatory touches, like the ghosts showing up to do their famous lines and stuff. I guess you'd call that fan service? Honestly I think Flanagan is just such a Shining fan that he was having a bit of fun. It was a little corny, but I feel it was earned.

I also have to point out that there were several Dark Tower references and I'm a fucking nerd so I loved that shit. Whenever they get around to doing something serious with the Dark Tower they need to put Flanagan on that shit.

So, DOCTOR SLEEP gets 10 out of 10 on Caruso's Holy Shit Was I Wrong Seven Years Ago About Doctor Sleep Being Unadaptable scale.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Fri Mar 27, 2020 11:03 am

in other Stephen King news, when they said they were gonna do a remake of The Stand, i didn't realize they were gonna make it a reality show.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:14 pm

So immersive!
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby Wolfpack on Fri Mar 27, 2020 10:59 pm

I was wondering why I keep dreaming about some dude wanting me to go to Vegas.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Apr 09, 2020 9:50 am

stephen king has a new book coming out in a month

The book collects four different novellas — similar to Different Seasons or Four Past Midnight


awesome!

Details are sparse, though it’s been confirmed that fan favorite character Holly Gibney of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider will return.


well, fuck.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Jun 18, 2020 7:00 pm

TheBaxter wrote:stephen king has a new book coming out in a month

The book collects four different novellas — similar to Different Seasons or Four Past Midnight


awesome!

Details are sparse, though it’s been confirmed that fan favorite character Holly Gibney of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider will return.


well, fuck.


i'm reading this book now. If It Bleeds has four stories, only one (the title one) has Holly and I haven't gotten to it yet. it's the longest one though.

i've only finished the first story, Mr Harrigan's Phone. it's about a phone. a haunted phone. a haunted iPhone. that's right, he really did it. he wrote a whole story about an iPhone.
it's actually not as bad as it sounds, but still. a haunted iPhone.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby Wolfpack on Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:47 pm

TheBaxter wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:stephen king has a new book coming out in a month

The book collects four different novellas — similar to Different Seasons or Four Past Midnight


awesome!

Details are sparse, though it’s been confirmed that fan favorite character Holly Gibney of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider will return.


well, fuck.


i'm reading this book now. If It Bleeds has four stories, only one (the title one) has Holly and I haven't gotten to it yet. it's the longest one though.

i've only finished the first story, Mr Harrigan's Phone. it's about a phone. a haunted phone. a haunted iPhone. that's right, he really did it. he wrote a whole story about an iPhone.
it's actually not as bad as it sounds, but still. a haunted iPhone.


Someone forgot to go into Settings and uncheck the "Haunting" feature. If they had gotten an Android, they wouldn't have this problem.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby so sorry on Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:04 pm

TheBaxter wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:stephen king has a new book coming out in a month

The book collects four different novellas — similar to Different Seasons or Four Past Midnight


awesome!

Details are sparse, though it’s been confirmed that fan favorite character Holly Gibney of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider will return.


well, fuck.


i'm reading this book now. If It Bleeds has four stories, only one (the title one) has Holly and I haven't gotten to it yet. it's the longest one though.

i've only finished the first story, Mr Harrigan's Phone. it's about a phone. a haunted phone. a haunted iPhone. that's right, he really did it. he wrote a whole story about an iPhone.
it's actually not as bad as it sounds, but still. a haunted iPhone.


40 years ago someone said the same thing about a King story about a car. A haunted car.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Jun 18, 2020 10:46 pm

so sorry wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:stephen king has a new book coming out in a month

The book collects four different novellas — similar to Different Seasons or Four Past Midnight


awesome!

Details are sparse, though it’s been confirmed that fan favorite character Holly Gibney of the Mr. Mercedes trilogy and The Outsider will return.


well, fuck.


i'm reading this book now. If It Bleeds has four stories, only one (the title one) has Holly and I haven't gotten to it yet. it's the longest one though.

i've only finished the first story, Mr Harrigan's Phone. it's about a phone. a haunted phone. a haunted iPhone. that's right, he really did it. he wrote a whole story about an iPhone.
it's actually not as bad as it sounds, but still. a haunted iPhone.


40 years ago someone said the same thing about a King story about a car. A haunted car.


yeah, but when he wrote Christine, he hadn't already spent the previous 10 years making sure he mentioned the Plymouth Fury and all its features in excruciating detail in every one of his books.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:31 am

i finished If It Bleeds. it's probably the least good of King's short story/novella collections.

i already talked about the iPhone story. other than King's nauseating fixation on modern technology, it's not a bad story. the 2nd best one in the book.

story #2 is "Life of Chuck". this is possibly the most pretentious thing he's ever written. it's got 3 different parts, starts off as one thing but then completely changes into a different thing, and the attempt to connect those parts just doesn't work. the story he writes in the afterword of how this story got written is more interesting than the story itself (and a lot shorter). it also goes to explain why it turned out so badly.

story #3 is the title story, this is also the Holly Gibney story and the longest story in the book. it's basically a sequel to the Outsider, with a different version of an Outsider. i suppose someone who likes that character will like this story. i don't, so i didn't. the basic idea behind it is good, but i would have liked it better with a different lead character. since the story name-drops Inside View, maybe Richard Dees? that would also add the angle of one reporter hunting down another reporter. King talks about how much he loves the Holly character in his afterword, so unfortunately there will probably be more of this to come.

the last story is "Rat" and it's my favorite of the book. this one falls back on King tropes about writers and writing, like Misery or Dark Half. the main character is a writer who has published some short stories, but can't ever seem to finish a novel. he kind of reminded me of the character from The Plague (another book i read recently, for some reason) who was writing a book but could never get further than the first sentence because he obsessed over every single word choice. it's nothing particularly deep or original, just a straightforward dark story.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby so sorry on Mon Jul 06, 2020 2:52 pm

I read an article this weekend that the guy who did the Dr Sleep movie is going to do another King book, Revival I think it was? I did a wiki search for the plot, seems pretty batshit crazy.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:04 pm

so sorry wrote:I read an article this weekend that the guy who did the Dr Sleep movie is going to do another King book, Revival I think it was? I did a wiki search for the plot, seems pretty batshit crazy.


it was a fun little book, definitely King indulging his Lovecraft fetish. i don't remember too many of the details, which maybe is a good thing? Flanagan's film version of Dr. Sleep substantially improved on the material, hopefully he can do the same here.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby so sorry on Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:12 pm

TheBaxter wrote:i've only finished the first story, Mr Harrigan's Phone. it's about a phone. a haunted phone. a haunted iPhone. that's right, he really did it. he wrote a whole story about an iPhone.
it's actually not as bad as it sounds, but still. a haunted iPhone.


bwahahahahaha!!!!
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:15 pm

so sorry wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:i've only finished the first story, Mr Harrigan's Phone. it's about a phone. a haunted phone. a haunted iPhone. that's right, he really did it. he wrote a whole story about an iPhone.
it's actually not as bad as it sounds, but still. a haunted iPhone.


bwahahahahaha!!!!


i'm surprised it's not on Apple TV+
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby Al Shut on Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:34 am

It will be shot with an iPhone
Note to myself: Fix this image shit!
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby Wolfpack on Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:59 am

It will probably be a generic brand phone. They don't want to give Apple any free advertising.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby so sorry on Mon Aug 31, 2020 12:26 pm

So I just finished up Dr Sleep. My first book read that wasn't written by GRR Martin, JRR Tolkien, or Nick Foles in many, many years :P

Found it pretty boring. Not remotely scary either, although that's not necessarily what King was going for. I have a few other King books somewhere from my youth, i may dig them out and give a reread to Four Seasons.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Thu Mar 11, 2021 3:44 pm

Coming out of retirement briefly to say I've read King's latest, Later, his third Hard Case Crime book, all of which have been neither hard nor case nor crime. This one at least is crime-adjacent, but is mostly a magic-kid-sees-dead-people story.
This is nothing new for King, but guess what, it's pretty good! At no point does his contemporary kid protagonist say "jeezly crow" or anything. He's graduated to '80s and '90s slang, like "hot bod." It's an improvement.
It's a slim volume, but I still took about a week to read it. Not savoring it, just lazy. It's nothing earth-shattering (as I said, this ground is well-trod) but entertaining with a few surprising connections to other King books (though I shouldn't be surprised at this point).
He even has his protagonist quote....Stephen King.
Oh Steve, never change!
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Mar 11, 2021 5:17 pm

caruso_stalker217 wrote:Coming out of retirement briefly to say I've read King's latest, Later, his third Hard Case Crime book, all of which have been neither hard nor case nor crime. This one at least is crime-adjacent, but is mostly a magic-kid-sees-dead-people story.
This is nothing new for King, but guess what, it's pretty good! At no point does his contemporary kid protagonist say "jeezly crow" or anything. He's graduated to '80s and '90s slang, like "hot bod." It's an improvement.
It's a slim volume, but I still took about a week to read it. Not savoring it, just lazy. It's nothing earth-shattering (as I said, this ground is well-trod) but entertaining with a few surprising connections to other King books (though I shouldn't be surprised at this point).
He even has his protagonist quote....Stephen King.
Oh Steve, never change!


i'll read this book...



















wait for it...























later.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby so sorry on Thu Mar 11, 2021 5:23 pm

I thought I just read a blurb about another King book being adapted for TV/big screen yesterday, but that's like saying I saw the sun come up at this point. I think it was the Talisman maybe?
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby caruso_stalker217 on Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:34 am

Probably Talisman. I think the Stranger Things bros are doing that one.

That thing has been in development hell for like four decades.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:22 am

caruso_stalker217 wrote:Coming out of retirement briefly to say I've read King's latest, Later, his third Hard Case Crime book, all of which have been neither hard nor case nor crime. This one at least is crime-adjacent, but is mostly a magic-kid-sees-dead-people story.
This is nothing new for King, but guess what, it's pretty good! At no point does his contemporary kid protagonist say "jeezly crow" or anything. He's graduated to '80s and '90s slang, like "hot bod." It's an improvement.
It's a slim volume, but I still took about a week to read it. Not savoring it, just lazy. It's nothing earth-shattering (as I said, this ground is well-trod) but entertaining with a few surprising connections to other King books (though I shouldn't be surprised at this point).
He even has his protagonist quote....Stephen King.
Oh Steve, never change!


finished it and agree with all the above. it's a pleasant short King book that mostly dodges the pitfalls of his other more recent stuff. even the writing style, which avoids the usual King writing tics

(like this)

or this.

it's funny that, for a "Hard Case Crime" book, he has his main character repeatedly say "this is a horror story." which it is. other than having the main character occasionally talk with the cadence of a noir-era private dick, and having a crooked cop character (which pretty much over half of King books have, at least the cop part), there's nothing crime-y about this story at all. the rules he devises for talking to ghosts are pretty convoluted and seem specifically designed to suit the story he wanted to tell, but i guess that's ok. they're not too outlandish.

the IT connection was a surprise, mostly because of how blatant it was. i couldn't decide if the deadlight ghost was The IT, or just another IT-like creature... i figured the latter, he didn't ask Jamie if he wanted to float or anything, and they're not even in Maine, but i suppose it's still possible. i didn't catch the King quoting himself part. oh well.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Tue Jul 27, 2021 11:29 am

Billy Summers

here's another King book that sounds like it has a more crime-book-type premise, but will probably end up being a supernatural thriller or at least have supernatural elements by the end.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby so sorry on Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:07 pm

TheBaxter wrote:Billy Summers

here's another King book that sounds like it has a more crime-book-type premise, but will probably end up being a supernatural thriller or at least have supernatural elements by the end.



Isn't that what you want?
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Wed Jul 28, 2021 11:01 am

so sorry wrote:
TheBaxter wrote:Billy Summers

here's another King book that sounds like it has a more crime-book-type premise, but will probably end up being a supernatural thriller or at least have supernatural elements by the end.



Isn't that what you want?


i'd rather have a straight-up horror novel that doesn't pretend to be anything else. but King doesn't seem to be too interested in writing those anymore. the last time he even tried was Doctor Sleep, and that didn't turn out so great (though it did at least result in a really good film). King's gone soft in his old age, so maybe it's for the best.
from what i've heard though, this book is a straight-up crime thriller, no supernatural elements so i guess it's a moot point.
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Sep 16, 2021 2:31 am

i read Billy Summers so you don't have to. Jesus may have died for your sins, but i think my sacrifice is worth something too.

this is a frustrating book. it could've been a really tight 300-page crime/revenge thriller about a hitman on a job gone wrong, digging into the people who set him up, and the secret motives behind it all, etc. wouldn't have been original or memorable in any real way but at least it would've been over sooner.

but Stephen King doesn't do "tight" novels. he does long, bloated, convoluted novels like this one. so, interspersed with the details of Billy preparing for his hit, setting up his cover, and preparing his post-job escape plan (the interesting bits) is a bunch of shit with him moving in next to a black family that is pretty much the same black family from Mr. Mercedes except the kids are a little younger, and becoming friends with them and the other neighbors and people working in his building, which is all typical Old Steve sentimental crap. in addition to the black kids, you get the typical King cast of characters: the T**** supporter with a heart of gold (see, guys, Stephen King doesn't hate you, just the studly tub of lard you worship to death), the nosy housewife, the lawyer bros from the office down the hall, a lonely accountant for Billy to fuck and then worry he's getting too close to these people, and so on. all of it i guess to demonstrate that, under that tough exterior, Billy is really just a big softie.

speaking of T**** (something i really prefer to avoid as much as possible these days), he has apparently replaced the iPhone as King's favorite reference point for grounding his novels in the modern day. it's not an improvement.

but then, about 1/3 into the book, Billy does the job and goes on the run, and all those characters just disappear from the story. which makes you wonder, what was the point of including them, but things finally start moving again so you don't really care, but then another character shows up who basically serves the same purpose, but once again bogging down the story with more baggage. of course, for King, it's obvious the baggage is the point of the book. he's not really interesting in writing a straight-forward crime thriller, rather he's using the crime story format to do a character study piece, but frankly Billy (and the people who glom onto him over the course of the book) just isn't original enough to generate interest, and there's really nothing compelling about any of it to make these diversions into his relationships worthwhile.

there's also the main conceit of the book, which is that Billy's cover story is that he's a writer, and to keep up his cover he decides to actually start writing his life story (even in a book about a hitman, King just can't help making his main character an author). this leads to some long passages of Billy's book-within-a-book sprinkled throughout. it's a clever idea to shoehorn in Billy's backstory and give his character more context, though King still can't just make it that simple: part of Billy's "act" is also to make his employers think he's dumber than he really is, and since he thinks they can access the computer he's writing on, he writes the early parts like a dumb person, which means we have to read several pages of King pretending to write the way a dumb person would, and you can probably imagine how that turns out. it's really annoying, to say the least. thankfully, he eventually drops the dumb act (and the book-within-a-book parts become less frequent as well) which is a relief, and the book conceit does pay off in the end somewhat. unfortunately, some of that early dumbness spills over into the King's own writing, like this gem of a line from p. 400:

Billy touches his ears with both hands, then pats his mouth with the other.


400 pages in and you're just now revealing that your main character has 3 hands? really, Steve.

seriously though, it's just more evidence that King doesn't have a real editor anymore. maybe he needs one less reader as well. of course, i say that, but i'll probably be back for his next book anyway because i just can't help it. every once in a while you still get a glimpse of the old King, but with his late-stage career genre switch, they're getting fewer and further between. ironically, this book would've been a much better fit for the Hard Case Crime imprint, at least in style, if not in length.

TheBaxter wrote:here's another King book that sounds like it has a more crime-book-type premise, but will probably end up being a supernatural thriller or at least have supernatural elements by the end.


i wasn't right... but i wasn't entirely wrong.

one thing's for sure: [ending-kinda-spoiler]if there's a sequel, it will definitely be a supernatural story. and given where billy ends up, and his proximity to a certain burnt-down hotel, it could also be the 3rd book in a King trilogy.[/ending-kinda-spoiler]
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby so sorry on Thu Sep 16, 2021 10:01 am

TheBaxter wrote:i read Billy Summers so you don't have to. Jesus may have died for your sins, but i think my sacrifice is worth something too.

this is a frustrating book. it could've been a really tight 300-page crime/revenge thriller about a hitman on a job gone wrong, digging into the people who set him up, and the secret motives behind it all, etc. wouldn't have been original or memorable in any real way but at least it would've been over sooner.

but Stephen King doesn't do "tight" novels. he does long, bloated, convoluted novels like this one. so, interspersed with the details of Billy preparing for his hit, setting up his cover, and preparing his post-job escape plan (the interesting bits) is a bunch of shit with him moving in next to a black family that is pretty much the same black family from Mr. Mercedes except the kids are a little younger, and becoming friends with them and the other neighbors and people working in his building, which is all typical Old Steve sentimental crap. in addition to the black kids, you get the typical King cast of characters: the T**** supporter with a heart of gold (see, guys, Stephen King doesn't hate you, just the studly tub of lard you worship to death), the nosy housewife, the lawyer bros from the office down the hall, a lonely accountant for Billy to fuck and then worry he's getting too close to these people, and so on. all of it i guess to demonstrate that, under that tough exterior, Billy is really just a big softie.

speaking of T**** (something i really prefer to avoid as much as possible these days), he has apparently replaced the iPhone as King's favorite reference point for grounding his novels in the modern day. it's not an improvement.

but then, about 1/3 into the book, Billy does the job and goes on the run, and all those characters just disappear from the story. which makes you wonder, what was the point of including them, but things finally start moving again so you don't really care, but then another character shows up who basically serves the same purpose, but once again bogging down the story with more baggage. of course, for King, it's obvious the baggage is the point of the book. he's not really interesting in writing a straight-forward crime thriller, rather he's using the crime story format to do a character study piece, but frankly Billy (and the people who glom onto him over the course of the book) just isn't original enough to generate interest, and there's really nothing compelling about any of it to make these diversions into his relationships worthwhile.

there's also the main conceit of the book, which is that Billy's cover story is that he's a writer, and to keep up his cover he decides to actually start writing his life story (even in a book about a hitman, King just can't help making his main character an author). this leads to some long passages of Billy's book-within-a-book sprinkled throughout. it's a clever idea to shoehorn in Billy's backstory and give his character more context, though King still can't just make it that simple: part of Billy's "act" is also to make his employers think he's dumber than he really is, and since he thinks they can access the computer he's writing on, he writes the early parts like a dumb person, which means we have to read several pages of King pretending to write the way a dumb person would, and you can probably imagine how that turns out. it's really annoying, to say the least. thankfully, he eventually drops the dumb act (and the book-within-a-book parts become less frequent as well) which is a relief, and the book conceit does pay off in the end somewhat. unfortunately, some of that early dumbness spills over into the King's own writing, like this gem of a line from p. 400:

Billy touches his ears with both hands, then pats his mouth with the other.


400 pages in and you're just now revealing that your main character has 3 hands? really, Steve.

seriously though, it's just more evidence that King doesn't have a real editor anymore. maybe he needs one less reader as well. of course, i say that, but i'll probably be back for his next book anyway because i just can't help it. every once in a while you still get a glimpse of the old King, but with his late-stage career genre switch, they're getting fewer and further between. ironically, this book would've been a much better fit for the Hard Case Crime imprint, at least in style, if not in length.

TheBaxter wrote:here's another King book that sounds like it has a more crime-book-type premise, but will probably end up being a supernatural thriller or at least have supernatural elements by the end.


i wasn't right... but i wasn't entirely wrong.

one thing's for sure: [ending-kinda-spoiler]if there's a sequel, it will definitely be a supernatural story. and given where billy ends up, and his proximity to a certain burnt-down hotel, it could also be the 3rd book in a King trilogy.[/ending-kinda-spoiler]


Since I won't read this, go ahead and spoiler it up for me: what was the sorta supernatural bit?
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Re: The Official Stephen King Thread

Postby TheBaxter on Thu Sep 16, 2021 11:22 am

so sorry wrote:Since I won't read this, go ahead and spoiler it up for me: what was the sorta supernatural bit?


supernatural spoiler:
while on the run and planning his revenge, Billy ends up staying at his handler's home in a remote part of Colorado. a little ways up the trail leads to a small cabin on the property that has a view across the valley to the former site of the Overlook hotel. while in hiding, Billy uses the cabin to continue writing his book, despite getting a chilly feeling from the place. he also notices a creepy painting of some topiary animals hanging in one corner of the cabin, which he takes down, only to find it hanging again the following day. he also periodically notices the animals in the painting seem to be changing positions and coming closer, and some seem to have red eyes. and.... that's about it. obviously not an essential element of the plot, just an easter egg for King readers that also help set the ominous foreboding mood and foreshadowing Billy's fate. all work and no play makes Billy a dull boy.

also, at a later point in the book, Billy is traveling with his groupie and they briefly stop in a cornfield in Hemingford Home, Nebraska. no little black grandmas spouting prophecies or anything else supernatural happens there, though. i'm sure there are other references to previous King works scattered about, but i didn't pick up on them.


total ending spoiler:
when Billy dies, he ends up buried not far from that cabin with the painting. i thought he might end up the next Bill Hodges, with more novels on the way, but that's obviously not going to happen (unless as a prequel). but i'll be surprised if Billy doesn't pop up as a cameo in some other King work, hanging out with the other Overlook ghosts. after all, he's always been the caretaker.
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