Just finished “Dreamcatcher”. It had its moments but it is mostly disappointing. And about 200 pages longer than it should be. Actually the plot is better suited to a comic book. Maybe that’s why King’s popularity is so great. He’s really making comic books in long hand, without the drawings. Stephen King has often said that he writes 10 pages a day (forcing himself to write even when he doesn’t want to) and it shows. Half the book is an accumulation of those lousy 10 pages a day when he should have gone to the local pub, had a beer and recharged his literary batteries.
And the plot. King is obviously on autopilot. This is just a rip-off of his own Tommyknockers for the start. And then it degenerates into some kind of “chase” scenes in which the heroes (grown-up but still kids mostly, as usual) are going to save the world from the alien “shit-weasel”. King likes to keep his main characters kids, as he then can have them say juvenile words, i.e., he (King) doesn’t have to worry about writing grown-up halfway intelligent dialogue. A writer’s trick. Maybe because, before reading “Dreamcatcher” I read a really good book (Saint Jack and Toad/Third Angel of the Apocalypse by Philip Carraher) I’m a little more disappointed in King than usual.
How about this as an example of comparing the writing of King vs. Carraher:
From Dreamcatcher: “Even his Perco don’t help. His throat make sore and his body shakes and his belly make hurty kind of like when he has to go poopoo…”
Good Lord! What crap.
Or, also from Dreamcatcher: “Henry’s heartbeat had doubled. By the time he stepped back from the window it had tripled. His eyes seemed to pulse from their sockets…”
Is this the best King can do to put imagery into his books?
Now some words from Carraher:
From Saint Jack: “The wood floor of the saloon rippled like a moving tide at Jack’s feet. A quick camera flash of bright light blinded him momentarily, then, sight returning, he saw something that took his breath away, a living quicksilver leaping up into sudden existence at his feet, a flaring wave of liquid light. Immediately it was on the move, spilling over itself…gleaming like a liquefied full moon as it rolled rapaciously toward the twisted and corrupted soul that was its destination.”
Or (again from Saint Jack): “Jack…had the sensation of standing again on a threshold separating two worlds, except this time the world beckoning to him from the other side of that threshold was offering him grinning terrors and grotesque horrors instead of the radiant glory of a sweet vision. The very pavement beneath his feet shuddered at the sights now passing him by.”
Two quick examples. As readers, can you “pick up on” the difference in quality of writing? The imagery is much superior in Carraher’s book to that which appears in King’s “Dreamcatcher”. I’m not even sure I picked the best examples of Carraher’s writing.
Reading King’s book is like taking a roller-coaster ride. Fun in parts but you end up getting off exactly where you got on. The ride hasn’t taken you anywhere. I think I want books from which I can learn, books which make me think a little bit (or a lot). King’s books just don’t do it for me anymore. I think I’ve read my last Stephen King. I’ve been disappointed with his last four or five. Enough.
Carraher’s book made me think about the world, and the possibility that we (humankind) will destroy ourselves with our movement into genetic science. The “third angel” in the title is the angel in the bible that talks of the Apocalypse coming due to the “pollution of the waters of life”. It’s Carraher’s viewpoint that DNA can be thought of as the true “waters of life” and that the current genetic science is its coming pollution. Is the Apocalypse coming? Will we create it ourselves? Maybe. Scary thought.