Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where I've been: the Loooooooong Version.

I know haven't been around lately. I had to get ready for a test, take said test, receive less than savory scores of the test, wallow in misery over said scores, etc... Plus, I've been outside most of the day for the past few days.
But the truth of the matter may be that I've been listening to audio books lately. Namely Stephen King audio books. Which really make no sense, since I can divide the mans work into books I love and books I loathe into a 1:3 ratio or so. But there are a few of his books I've never bothered with (The Stand and It) that I never even bothered with, mostly because they were so large and I knew if I spend the time reading them and didn't like them, I'd never forgive myself. At 10:30 last night, I finished listening to all 34.4 hours of The Stand. I'm still not certain what I think of it. I've always thought King's writing lends itself best to short stories. Sure, books like The Shining and 'Salem's Lot and even The Green Mile all hold a special place with me, and it's true that many of the movies made from his works make them seem much, much worse than they actually are. But his longer form work always tended to start with an amazing first act and then sort of peter out towards the end of the second. This is especially true of the Dark Tower books, which I absolutely loved until maybe the fourth or fifth book and then I was wasn't interested in finishing the story. I did, of course, but only because I'd already gotten that far into it and kept thinking "It's gonna get better than this, right? It's got to." But it didn't. I just got madder. and madder. and madder. You can see my apprehension to start something so voluminous as The Stand. If I start it...
It's the short stories and novellas that have always hit me the hardest. It might be that as a format it's more suited to someone of my...attention span. Or that I tend to lose interest when the story begins to drift towards the same macabre interests or worse, characters*. His first three books of short stories are among my favorites ever opened. I mean, Night Shift has at least 5 or 6 stories that are still capable of scaring the crap out of me. I mean, even if you discount all of the really bad ones, you get what, 5 or 6 good movies made out of the stories in this. No, I'm not counting Maximum Overdrive here. Or the Lawnmower Man, which is possibly the worst adaptation of any story I've ever read. Both of those stories were really good by me, though.
So here I am, just having finished The Stand. It performed a lot like the way I described Kings other long work, and yet I have no regret of listening it through to the end. In fact, I'm sure I'll start listening to the apparently longer It sooner than later. And I'm sure somewhere towards the end I'll just wondering when he'll get it over with. But I guess in this case, the first half or so is compelling enough for me to have to continue on to the end. I think if I'd been reading The Stand rather than listen to it, I'm sure I would have a bigger chip on my shoulder here.
So, I just realized that this is the longest, most useless excuse for my lack of recent posts that I've ever comitted to this site. Which says a lot. I'll be around, and I should have a mix up in the next week, although how I've pieced one together in the mess of my listening lately is beyond me. We'll see if it's any good.

*There are a number of recurring characters in his body of work, and while I really like this idea -forming your own little universe between a number of seemingly interrelated stories- sometimes it results in SK bending the premises of his stories a bit to far to link them all together. Hearts in Atlantis, which I liked, seems a bit tied too closely to the bleed between his stories and really just sort of hindered what was an interesting story on its own. It's fun, to see these people making strange cameos in other books, and as a comic book reader, I know this better than anyone.
But I'm prone to believe that in this instance, as it all too often is in comics, that many of Stephen King's superfans really just read through these stories oohing and aahing and feeling smart because they recognize a name or two.

Obviously I'm not a superfan of his. And it's obvious that I really like some of his work. I don't know why I feel the need to reiterate this now, but there it is...

Edit: It's been pointed out to me that stories about isolation madness, doomsday flus, and post-apocalyptic societies might not be the best material for someone who doesn't see many people and talks to even less. I think it makes perfect sense. Besides, now all I have to worry about is homocidal dream clowns.

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