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routine restor'd

Yesterday, I wrote 959 words on "The Pearl Diver." I haven't looked at them yet this morning. Spooky liked them yesterday, but I'm always anxious the day after. And the beginning of this story is odd, not exactly what I'd expected for it. A study in monotony, which will all make sense farther along. Anyway, it's a good start, I hope, and today should be as productive.

My comments yesterday about Threshold, The Butterfly Effect, and Donnie Darko spawned some thoughtful replies, espcially from setsuled. Feel free to add your two or three cents, so long as you do so with a civil tongue.

Last night, Spooky and I fixed spaghetti and played Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters on the XBox. It was the first time we'd gamed since we finished The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher's Bay, back before we left for Rhode Island. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters is a nice game, and it's cool to get to play Toho favourites like Godzilla, Anguirus, and Megalon, but it does suffer in comparison to War of the Monsters. The graphics aren't quite as good in G:DAM as in WotM, and the controls are a little sluggish. There's not as much freedom within the virtual world. One of the great things about WotM is how you can go anywhere and break anything and almost everything can be used as a weapon. But it's still fun. Afterwards, about 1 a.m., we went to bed and finished reading 'Salem's Lot.

I think we were asleep by two, but it was fitful sleep, filled with difficult dreams.

I'd not read 'Salem's Lot in at least fifteen years, maybe longer. It's not a bad novel, but not nearly as good as I remember. It's painfully obvious that, at this point in his career, Stephen King wanted to be Shirley Jackson and just didn't know how to pull it off. The Marsten House makes a far better villiian than the vampire Barlow, and the novel loses focus when the vampire abandons the Marsten House for other digs. At best, the characters aren't particularly engaging, and, at worst, they leave me indifferent to their fates. And there are entirely too many of them, a difficulty I have with many of King's books. The most valuable thing about reading this book again has been an epiphany about King's work, or at least about his early work. Previously, I've said that King usually tends to be very conservative in his approach to the problems of Evil and the Other, that he presents the status quo, introduces an outside force that threatens it, and allows his characters to vanquish that force, once again making the world safe for the status quo. But that's not quite right. Rather, he presents the status quo (the people of Jerusalem's Lot, in this case), introduces the disruptive Outside force (Barlow), then pits a traditional approach to Evil (in this case, the Catholic Church) against the force, discovering that it is an effective counteragent. But. Good may defeat Evil, but it seems to do so with a marked indifference to human life and well-being. The fate of Father Callahan may serve as a case in point. It's all very Utilitarian. Men are only instruments of this very Old Testament God, to be cast aside for other instruments if they falter for even a moment. And, in the end, the Evil might be banished (it might not), but the status quo has been forever disrupted. I see now that this is true of 'Salem's Lot, a much more trangressive novel than I'd previously considered it to be, and it's also true of Carrie, The Stand, and, to a lesser degree, The Shining. It's interesting.

Thanks to robyn_ma, I've had the theme from Welcome Back, Kotter stuck in my head since day before yesterday.

Here's something genuinely trivial, yet oddly intimate: this morning I had my usual breakfast, a can of Campbell's Old-Fashioned Vegetable soup in beef stock and a glass of juice (cherry limeade). Spooky had one french-toast Pop-Tart and a container of coffee-flavored yogurt, plus coffee (with milk and sugar). Jennifer had a bowl of Grape Nuts in soy milk. I think our breakfasts say more about us than we might like to admit.

I've begun a new round of eBay auctions. Anything you purchase using "Buy It Now" between today and midnight July 30th will get you a monster doodle (one per purchased item), doodled and signed by me. I'm going to try to include some more unusual items in these auctions. Right now, there's a mint-condition copy of Aberrations #27 up (it includes my first-published short story). I'm also going to part with a hand-corrected, unbound galley copy of Murder of Angels, in which I've restored all those missing commas, and maybe a vial of sand from "Innsmouth"/Narcissa's beach. And there are other peculiar items I'm considering. We'll see how it goes. All proceeds go to offset the cost of the trip to Rhode Island/research for Daughter of Hounds, and to mine and Spooky's costume fund.

Now I write.

Comments

( 7 comments — Have your say! )
robyn_ma
Jul. 11th, 2004 04:29 pm (UTC)
'Thanks to robyn_ma, I've had the theme from Welcome Back, Kotter stuck in my head since day before yesterday.'

the eldritch screaming didn't help?
greygirlbeast
Jul. 11th, 2004 04:49 pm (UTC)
the eldritch screaming didn't help?

Nope.
tornqueen
Jul. 11th, 2004 04:57 pm (UTC)
King
I've been sick lately, so I've been rereading It. I haven't read it since I was 14. I think that's part of the reason most mainstream bestselling writers exist -- for people to read when they can't concentrate too hard or think too deeply.

I am really impressed with your evaluation of King's work. I haven't read a lot of his work, perhaps just a handful of things, like 'Salems Lot, Pet Cemetery, Bag of Bones, and The Shining, but your analysis sounds spot on, to me, and will probably change the way I read him from now on.

If you have the time (ha!ha!), the inclination, and have read It, what is your evaluation of this novel? Actually, I'd be interested in anyone's answer.

greygirlbeast
Jul. 11th, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC)
Re: King
If you have the time (ha!ha!), the inclination, and have read It, what is your evaluation of this novel?

I have a fairly low opinion of It. For me, it marks the beginning of a period during which King's work became extraordinarily sloppy and haphazard. It is far too long and could have used a good editor, willing to edit. It has it's moments, and is interesting as one of King's forays in Lovecraftian "cosmic horror," but pales beside earlier works, such as Pet Sematary</a> and Firestarter.
oneirophrenia
Jul. 11th, 2004 05:41 pm (UTC)
Speaking of ol' Father Callahan, wait'll you see what King makes of him the fifth Dark Tower book, _Wolves of the Calla_. I was never very impressed with _'Salem's Lot_, and I've begun to loathe anew King's inability to edit and his horrendously round-about, unfocused narrative style, but it's still pretty neat how he's taken a character from an early work and tied him in to his contemporary works. I still think King could've shaved about 3,000 pages off of The Dark Tower books and they would've been truly monumental, instead of just being monumental piles of paper.
happyspector
Jul. 12th, 2004 03:52 pm (UTC)
I so need to re-read 'Salem's Lot ... it was one of the first novels I ever read, I have strong memories of it, though I've funny enough never re-read it in full, and haven't even sampled it in nearly ten years. In terms of the whole "the evil *might* be vanquished" factor, King's endings often feel damn near tongue-in-cheek in that regard, almost like the smiling baby-plant at the end of Little Shop of Horrors. Not so much so in 'Salem's Lot.

Carrie is the most subversive King novel I can think of at the moment (I'm sure I'll change my mind the moment I hit "post comment"), for the most fundamental reasons; it's from the point of view of the "other," which is where most of our sympathies fall, and the "status quo" is the true horror for most of the book. In 'Salem's Lot, both from what I remember and from what is most often discussed about it, while the "other" is shown in a purely negative light, the status quo is shown as less than admirable, with almost a "which is worse?" undercurrent.

The Shining was subversive in drawing the *connection* between the "outer" horror and the "from us" horror, with a very fuzzy line as to where one starts and the next begins. This also could be said of Pet Cemetery to a lesser degree, and with far more irredeemable results to boot.
greygirlbeast
Jul. 12th, 2004 03:59 pm (UTC)
while the "other" is shown in a purely negative light, the status quo is shown as less than admirable, with almost a "which is worse?" undercurrent..

Yes, I would say that's true.
( 7 comments — Have your say! )