Dear Readers,

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Lisey's Story

Boo'ya Moon!

Stephen King has become a personal hero of mine of late. It's not just because he can write, which he can, or because he can connect with bazillions of readers from all walks of life, but because...his writing is so unabashedly emotional, and yes, his insistence on always bringing in the zombies, demons, and ghosties within and without is kind of, well, spiritual. And so many writers are afraid to be spiritual these days.
Americans like authors like King because he makes them laugh, scream, and cry. I certainly did all three while engrossed in Lisey's Story. I laughed at King's absurd uses of language (and have adopted the vaguely kinky phrase "strap it on!" as my own personal mantra of toughness), jumped 40-fucking feet in the air every time the phone rang, and sobbed inconsolably while contemplating the end of the marriage that King describes so poignantly. It was one of the most soul-seizing books I've read in years.

So I already mentioned that Janet Maslin compared this book to the Greatest. Book. Ever, Ulysses ( said slightly ironically). But the Times, almost as fascinated with King as it is with its own bloated significance, isn't done. The cover story of yesterday's Book Review continues the endlessly fascinating discussion: Is Stephen King a bad writer because he's popular? Or is he popular because he's a bad writer? Or is he a good writer who's misunderstood because he's popular? Or wait... can I write about liking King and still seem smart?
To his credit, the author seems to side with the Kingmeister, though he can't resist a few jabs at King's earthly prose. On the whole, a good piece that did its darndest to walk the line between highbrow and appreciative.

Best moments, followed by translation:
"His stuff appealed to people more familiar with Aerosmith than “Arrowsmith,” and the literary gatekeepers didn’t approve."
But I am familiar with both, and I do approve.

A few unfortunate lines remain, for example, “Amanda sounded just as bright as a new-minted penny.” (Cut to [Harold] Bloom, spitting out his morning coffee.) But give him a break: King is a volcano. Let his new admirers play Flaubert to his Hugo.
I'm not as snotty as Harold Bloom, but I can make awesome metaphors about ninetheenth-century French authors.

Boo’ya Moon is “this world turned inside-out like a pocket,” and it’s as real as J. M. Barrie’s Never-Never Land, L. Frank Baum’s Oz or the Grimms’ forest. Like those places, Boo’ya Moon arises from childhood longings for the things not provided by one’s parents or guardians, and it’s as forbidding as it is wonderful.

I speak the truth.

This last analogy is un-mockable because I agree with it ;)
...the book reminded me more of fave children's author Madeleine L'Engle than anyone else, with her almost religious approach to Sci-Fi and horror. Boo'Ya moon, like all other alternate worlds, is about the fulfillment of our desires. And that's what Stephen King does that the darlings of the literary establishment are too self-conscious to do. Fulfill our greedy desires. He takes us to alternate realities, populates the hallways with ghosts, and devours bad guys with monsters in big, breathtaking scenes. King is a literary cinematographer, an unabashed pop-culture fiend, and an all-around awesome dude. And hard as it is for all of us, even Egalitarian Bookworms, to praise him without self-conscious allusions to the Great Books we like to read in our spare time to "big ourselves up" as Ali G would say, we don't need to. This book stands on its own, and so does Lisey. And so does Stephen King.

And Harold Bloom can eat it. Egalitarian Bookworms hate him.

1 comment:

  1. Mickey Spillane told an interviewer he had millions of customers, and that he didn't give a crap about critics or any dumb-ass comments they voiced about his work.

    King, John Grisham and a bunch of other authors can say the same as they lug their cash to the bank.

    Bloom is a great guy and was a great friend of Saul Bellow's, but he never did a good thing for any writer's bank account.