Friday, 1 March 2013

Desperation: 4th - 27th Feb 2013

I had such high hopes for Desperation.  It totally grabbed me by the scrote within the first few pages. For a Stephen King novel (at least so far in my chronological reading) it's not all that common. Sure, he posits ideas that that are immediately intriguing, but he rarely hits the ground running in such a forceful way as he does here in Desperation. I had chills within minutes. Needless to say, I was very excited.

As things progressed and the cast of characters was assembled in opposition to the evil adversary, I got echoes of The Stand. Not so much Captain Trips, but the classic battle of good* versus evil and the character of Johnny Marinville reminded me of Larry Underwood. King certainly likes his washed-up artists.

*Unfortunately, for me, this "good" is here represented by the plainest Christian representation of god, not only as a focus of faith and hope, but a direct agent of action and influence. I say unfortunately, but I don't suppose it's totally impossible to regard it as a literary device based on the tradition of other great works of fiction. That some people don't realise that they are works of propaganda and fiction is another, more troublesome, matter entirely.

While The Stand didn't light my fire in the way I'd hoped, particularly considering its almost universal acclaim among King's fans, I was hopeful and very willing, considering how well it started, to love Desperation. As I wrote in my opening post for the book, even at the halfway stage, I wasn't disappointed. Somehow, though, things went awry as I hit a lull, both in the narrative and my momentum. I'm not sure to what extent spending a good week catching up on about fifty issues of The Walking Dead comic was a cause or effect of this lack of motivation, but it was a welcome relief.

I eventually stopped farting about and went back and finished the book. It pains me to say that my liking of the book steadily decreased throughout the second half. I just stopped caring. And this was in spite of the inclusion of Cynthia from Rose Madder. I was inordinately happy about her inclusion in the book and actually rather liked the fact that she didn't have the largest of roles, she was just there - at about the same level as she was in Rose Madder.

I hadn't really paid much attention to or recognised the fact that King's endings tend to be somewhat hurried and almost anticlimactic - I'm obviously not the most involved or perceptive of readers. Maybe it's that he doesn't signpost his transition into the third act as clearly as I need him to. I'm dumb.

Alright, that's enough. I wanted to like it a lot and, for the first half, I really did. Then I started liking it less and less until I thought it was just OK and can't imagine I'll ever read it again to see if I was wrong. On the plus side, it stands out as the book that got right inside my mind and put a knot in my belly within minutes. So there's that.


1 comment:

  1. I looooved that Cynthia was in Desperation, and I especially loved that it was a new thing that I hadn't known about Desperation before because I hadn't read Rose Madder- a little perk of reading all his books in order!

    I have in the past gotten really upset at Desperation and, y'know, the end (THE END!!) but I didn't so much this time, maybe because this time I really really really hated Johnny- so much so that I didn't even want him to get all martyred like he does. But I still like it plenty.