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"And you must leave now."

Today, we drop the CEM off at the post office, and the deed is fucking done. The corrected CEM for The Drowning Girl has been photocopied (never return a corrected ms. without making a copy, because shit does get lost in the mail). Letters granting me permission to quote songs and stories are included, as well as a copy of Lewis Carroll's "The Lobster Quadrille." I'm thinking the ms. will probably be in NYC by Wednesday. Now, maybe I'll stop smoking again, but I sort of doubt it.

And today is a day off.

And tomorrow I have to get work on the pieces for Sirenia Digest #70. And why aren't you subscribed (I don't actually require an answer, please)? It's quick, easy, cheap, and we have a snazzy new website!


Last night, there was more Mad Men. We've almost finished Season Two, and I have very much fallen in love with this series. It's what television ought to be. There was also RP in Insilico, and Grendel lost the first digit of her left pinkie to yubitsume. But it was her fault. After all, she was out of contact with the oyabun for more than twenty-four hours, because she met a woman at the space port (I hate that. No one in this version of the twenty-fourth century would say "space port." At the port, let's say), and it had been a long time between fucks. And you know how that goes.

We also finished reading Stephen King's The Stand (the original, not fucked-up 1990 text), and I have many thoughts. I could make an essay of my thoughts, but I don't want to spend two hours droning on and on and fucking on about the whys and wherefores. Better I summarize. I didn't enjoy the book nearly as well as I did way back in high school and the eighties (I read it four times, I think). King simply isn't a good writer. He is a good storyteller, and he has a way with characters, but there's a lot more to writing than "Storytime with Uncle Stevie." And I think this has been the key to his success.

But I have deeper problems with the text. There's no denying it's sexist. Sure, we have Mother Abigail and the token queer, Dana, who gets sent off to die in Las Vegas (in one of the book's best scenes, by the way). Oh, and Nadine, who remains my favorite character. But that's pretty much it. Women are mostly there to be pregnant, and to fret, and to need men to protect them. And this seems a little much even for 1978. Maybe it would have seemed less out of place in a book written in 1948. And, trust me, I'm not a radfem. This is a very notable objective problem with the text. And, while I'm at it, Captain Trips seemed to have spared Caucasians over all other races. Well, there's Mother Abigail, who comes off as the "Magic Negro."

Another, for me, is that there's almost no getting around the fundamental Christianity of The Stand. It's steeped in it, with hardly room for any other interpretation, and we watch as a wicked god lays down his judgement, and war is waged against the forces of evil. Note: Tolkien did this in LotR without showing any evidence of religion whatsoever. And, like I said, this is a problem I have, the whole Christian fantasy thing, and likely it's not a problem for most people, especially, obviously Christians.

The whole thing after the epidemic just seems so...small. I recall it being epic, and it really isn't. It occurs on a much smaller stage than I remember. Of course, I'm forty-seven now, not, say sixteen, and I've read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which has changed the stakes of postapocalyptic books forever. There is no god. Or God. Or gods. No one's coming to save us when the big fuck up rains down. And it'll be worse than Stephen King dared to imagine in 1978. The human spirit will not triumph, because those left alive will be too busy fighting over whatever happens to be left. So, for me the book also fails in it's incredibly naïve anti-nihilistic approach.

But all of this is not to say that it isn't still enjoyable on some level. And there are still some great scenes (though I was shocked at how flat the climactic Las Vegas scene seemed). Spooky enjoyed it more than me, but then she'd never read it. For my part, I'm not revisiting any more King texts. I'll only be disappointed, and I'd rather remember them as I do, even knowing those memories are, by and large, false.

And we began reading Shirley Jackson's The Sundial. Finally.

And now I go have a day off.


( 17 comments — Have your say! )
Sep. 26th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
Enjoy a wonderful day off. I hope you spend time in the ocean.
Sep. 26th, 2011 06:07 pm (UTC)
oooooh, day off. enjoy!
Sep. 26th, 2011 06:43 pm (UTC)
And now I go have a day off.

Sep. 26th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear you're finally taking a day off. Go. Have fun.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 26th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)

You are welcome. It's like this dirty secret people who write dark fiction are afraid of uttering.
Sep. 26th, 2011 07:21 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on finishing!


Yeah, I loved The Stand (and suspect I would still very much like it despite all its flaws), but even when I first read it back in the 80's, I noticed some of the implicit subtext was a little conservative for my tastes. And that's coming from someone who grew up a conservative fundie in small town Alabama and still was, somewhat, back then (or was entirely, or at least thought I should be, if I was still in high school; I can't remember the exact year I read it, or whether hs/college).

Also, having recently finished The Hunger Games, absolutely loved it. Though your thoughts on the sequels have me leery This would have worked fine as a stand-alone, but curiosity compels me to give them a shot anyway.
Sep. 26th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)

Also, having recently finished The Hunger Games, absolutely loved it. Though your thoughts on the sequels have me leery This would have worked fine as a stand-alone, but curiosity compels me to give them a shot anyway.

They're worth reading. But don't expect them to match the first book.
Sep. 26th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
Congrats on being finished with the CEM!
Sep. 26th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
So ... did you see the movie they made of "The Stand"?

When a bunch of sucks get together to suck there's a whole suck-load of sucking. My favorite part was when the hand of god - which is green - comes down and blows up the city. I didn't read the book, which may have had a lighter touch, but the movie was more saturated in God juice than a choir boy.

That said, it was useful to find out that god is right-handed and green. Every year, we get a little closer to the truth ...
Sep. 26th, 2011 11:21 pm (UTC)

So ... did you see the movie they made of "The Stand"?

You mean that TV mini-series back in the mid-nineties? I know of that, though I never saw it.

I didn't read the book, which may have had a lighter touch, but the movie was more saturated in God juice than a choir boy.

The book is pretty damn God juicy.
Sep. 26th, 2011 10:18 pm (UTC)
Congrats on finishing the CEM, and the day off.

I've found that King has trouble finishing his novels. He sets up the situation with aplomb, and then has difficulty figuring out how to bring it to a close. Cue the giant mystical turtle at the end of IT, or the house just plain blowing up in THE SHINING, or the hand of God in THE STAND.

I loved the first third of THE STAND when I read it. The world falling apart to Captain Trips, the apocalyptic visions, the characters trying to figure out what to do next. I thought the middle third was alright, after they meet Mother Abigail (the definition of the Magical Negro if ever there was one), and thought the final third sucked. Hand of God? Please.

I read that King almost quit writing the book once people started rewiring civilization together in Denver or wherever they end up. Putting the pieces back together, and in effect, starting fresh as if Captain Trips had never happened. That he stopped writing for a long time, and then went for a walk, and then it hit him: blow it up! Hand of god!

Sep. 26th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)

Cue the giant mystical turtle at the end of IT, or the house just plain blowing up in THE SHINING, or the hand of God in THE STAND.

And then...and then...and then they FOUGHT DINOSAURS!
Sep. 27th, 2011 04:14 am (UTC)
Uncle Stevie
That's why he works well for people. He's Uncle Stevie, and they love sitting and letting him entertain them. I do admire him, especially for collaborating with Peter Straub. Love those two books!

Two summers ago I went on a re-read Uncle Stevie's books kick. Purchased them used and read in order starting with "Carrie."

Agreed, it's almost impossible to tolerate most of "The Stand" for the reasons you describe, too much religion and a big Vegas limp dick ending.

Hope you enjoy a kick ass, well deserved day off.
Sep. 27th, 2011 11:47 am (UTC)
Caitlin - the Machen book's on its way to you. Hope you had a good day off.
Jeff P
Sep. 27th, 2011 02:02 pm (UTC)
I have a soft spot in my heart for King, as I was an awkward, monster-loving Maine teenager when "'Salem's Lot" first came out. I'd had no idea there was anyone else in Maine who was even interested in monsters, let alone someone writing what would become best-selling novels about them!

That said, most of his earlier books I've re-read haven't been as enjoyable, but I'll still take "Lot" and "The Shining" over most of the novels he's written in the last 20 years. These days I think his novellas are his best work. I thought "Full Dark, No Stars" was darkly brilliant, barely a whiff of the supernatural to be had.

I've said for a long time King's a better storyteller than a writer, but I'm not sure that's always a bad thing. The fact he admits as much makes me like him all the more. I enjoy Straub's work more because he IS a better writer, but no writer could grab me by the lapels and haul me in like Uncle Stevie could in his prime.
Sep. 27th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)

I say airport, differentiating from a seaport, which I do just call a port. Though I might call it a seaport if airports came first, or if I travelled by sea as much as I travel by air.

I think I might say spaceport if it were like an airport but for space travel. I might say port or dock or such if it were singularly more concerned with freight and cargo than with passenger carriage. It would be more generic to me that way, and thus less demanding of a qualifier to differentiate between different types of ports concerned with different modes of travel.

That could be a me thing, though. I also assume that the hypothetical spaceport does not exist in a transport vacuum and has not rendered other forms of commercial travel entirely obsolete.

Sep. 28th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
God saturated indeed. I worry that attitudes like this, since they could easily become self-fulfilling prophecies. I can easily envision fanatics eager for an apocalyptic end to civilization so they can have their sorting out and God can clear away the ashes and give them their perfect world.

On the lighter side, King's Gunslinger was pretty good. Well, not the rotton rewrite. And I loved Wizard and Glass. Thought it was truly epic.
( 17 comments — Have your say! )

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