Monday, 30 August 2010

The Long Walk 21-29 August

That's more like it.  Despite having spent most evenings for the past couple of months playing guitar in preparation for playing the service music for a workmate's wedding, I knocked this bad boy off in a week.  Of course, it's only two hundred and something pages, but that's not the point.  I found the discipline I pissed away while reading The Stand and was able to immerse myself in The Long Walk.  There I go with that word again; immerse.

That's the point though.  Books demand and deserve immersion.  I'll consult my thesaurus next time I revisit the concept.  Reading The Long Walk again takes me back to the time I first read it.  Having picked up The Bachman Books  at home after watching The Running Man for the fifth time, I blasted through the novel before immediately turning to the other three works in the collection.  I can't think of the book without remembering my old room in the house I grew up in.  I clearly remember going to bed early and a staying up later than advisable, knowing that I'd be tired at school the next day.  I wondered whether I'd rose-tinted my memory of the book but was heartened by friends who were equally quick to remark on how much they'd loved it.

As it turns out, I think I may have rose-tinted it a bit.  In truth, though, there are a couple of reasons for it not having the same impact this time.  Firstly, there's no reveal.  You already know the horror of 'buying a ticket'.  But that's the same with every book or film, it's not going to surprise you a second time.  The second reason is down to the overall desensitising effect of some of the truly horrendous things I've seen in films and read in books since.  Where it wins out, though, is the marvel of the writing.  You're there for the full five and a bit days, matching the Walkers step for step.  The story rarely leaves the road but doesn't get overly dull or repetitive.

In an earlier post, when I was talking about my reasons for taking on this mission, I mentioned that I had actually cried at the end of The Long Walk.  On second reading, I'm not sure at what point the rising emotion got the better of me, as I didn't feel it this time.  I can only imagine it was the very end.I'm a bit gutted that I didn't get the same payoff this time, but it doesn't stop me from cherishing my memory of the first reading as one of the highlights of my lifelong love of reading.  I know, I'm getting a bit emo.  Fuck it.  If you haven't read The Long Walk, I recommend you do so.

A final aside- it struck me that Battle Royale by Kōshun Takami is probably heavily influenced by The Long Walk.  That's all.  Read that too.  Or watch the film.  Again.

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