Monday, September 14, 2009

I Don't Write Hits; My Plays Are Art. They're Written Specifically to Go Unproduced

Here's To Tuesday!
Mellow Monday, came and went
Typical and nondescript

Without pain or incident

Ran its course and now is zipped

The hours crawled, the hours flew

And left no mark worth keeping

Perhaps it was the same for you

Which could explain your weeping...

Greetings, one and all! Monday limps across the finish line, bringing an end to a very lackluster day. Don't get me wrong, I got some stuff done today. Worked on the Rug Care Central website, made some revisions to another Piranha document, and stayed in the house, otherwise entertaining myself with my usual mix of literary, cinematic, musical and game-related time-burglars. Finished The Talisman this morning... might as well drop a quick review in here. Nothing says "cutting edge" like reviewing a book that came out 25 years ago!


The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

Yes, the book has two authors, and yes, it's pretty evident during the course of the book where the switches take place. Here's the story, in a nutshell: A twelve year old boy (Jack Sawyer) has recently lost his dad (he died), and moved to the east coast with his mom. His mom is a former B-movie star - a minor celebrity in Hollywood - called the "Queen of the B Movies." She is also dying rather rapidly of cancer. Downer, eh? I'm just getting started. So Jack meets an old black guy (Speedy Parker) at a boardwalk amusement park that is closed for the off season, and discovers that there is a parallel world to our world, and that he (Jack) has the ability to flip back and forth between the two, like his dad could. It also turns out that certain people have "twinners" in this other world, and that his dying mom's "twinner" is the queen in this other world, and is also dying.

With me so far? Didn't think so... good thing I'm almost done...

So the long and short of it is this: Jack must embark on a quest that will take him across the country (to California), where he must retrieve an artifact called "the talisman" that will save both his mom and the Queen. So Jack begins to hitchhike across the country, going from one contrived, dangerous situation to another, flipping back and forth between the worlds when he gets in trouble, with baddies from both realms trying to kill him. Because - you guessed it - Jack is apparently a long-prophesied hero-type that is destined to complete this quest, and save both worlds from doom, despair and destruction, by getting this glowing orb from the castle in which it has been held for eons.

There is very little balance in the story. Every time he escapes one hairy situation, the next is worse. Every time he finds someone that could be considered a helper, the helper gets killed or violently sick or goes nuts. Almost everyone he runs into, in either realm, is either ridiculously cruel and evil, or a slavering half-wit. And here's this 12 year old kid, bouncing back and forth between acting like the kid that he is, and doing/saying things most adults wouldn't even do/say. In other words, even though there's supposed to be some sense of reality in the piece, since half of it is supposed to be rooted in this world, nothing strikes you as even remotely plausible, as far as the way everyone interacts in the story. Sure, over in the "other world" things are pretty wacky, that's to be expected... but "over here"? It just isn't consistent.

I can't even say it was well-written... I found it quite tedious, actually. It was in parts over-wrought, melodramatic, eye-rollingly implausible, grueling... not exactly a glowing review, I'm sorry! I powered through it because, as I mentioned in previous posts, I kept waiting for the good book to show up... the one that I recalled (ever so vaguely) enjoying as a teen. It never showed up. It's not like my expectations were too high... I remember liking it (as opposed to loving it), and was prepared to simply like it again. Bummer.

Conclusion: 2/5 Wouldn't recommend it. It has all these accolades on the back covers ("One of the most influential and heralded works of fantasy ever written!") and plenty of 5-star reviews at Amazon, but don't you believe it. It's easily the least favorite book I've read this year. It's "influential" all right... it has influenced me to avoid re-reading other Stephen King books that I have similar vaguely-fond memories of reading back in high school as well.


Meh, what can you do? So it wasn't my cup of tea, big deal. Now I get to dive into Mistborn.

I don't want to be too down on King - I still think The Running Man is one of the better books I've ever read - and he wrote that thing in four weeks (if his memoirs are to be believed). They made a movie with Arnold called The Running Man that was supposed to be based on the book... the movie was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like the book, which is a shame. Aside from the name of the main character, and the very general idea of a TV gameshow, it was night and day different. So read that one. In fact, just get The Bachman Books, by King, which is a collection of four shorter novels, including The Running Man, as well as another good one called The Long Walk. Good stuff.

Dang, here I rip The Talisman to shreds, then end up making a commercial for the author! Stephen King has a non-fiction book on writing - appropriately entitled "On Writing" lol - that is also very good, especially if you're interested in being a writer yourself.

OK, what else?

Saw a cool article about two guys (a French designer and a Harvard professor) that invented a living air purifier system that looks quite cool...

As you can see, it's a self-contained air purifier that uses live plants as the filter. At the risk of sounding like an environmental loony, the stats are pretty consistent that the air quality inside our houses is many times more nasty than the air outside the house, even in cities, so having some sort of filtration system makes sense. Not plugging these things - I just point them out because it seems cool. Here's the link if you wanna read more and see more purty pictures...

And now, because I strive to cover a wide spectrum of nonsense here, the pendulum swings into Today's Gutbuster, brought to you by This Is Why You're Fat...

Ahhh! Bologna Fries! Looks like some Ranch Dressing for dipping there, too... and I doubt seriously that it is the low-fat variety... Why do you eat that stuff? There's no food in your food!

I know you're dying to see a video clip of a neurotic dog, right? Am I right? See! Man, do I know my audience or what...

I predict that dog will very soon be on meds of some sort... I may be dumb, fellas, but I ain't stupid...

Yay! The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are back from their 3 week break starting tonight! Life is back to normal again! All is well in the world!

I wish I had an update on my Pastor's condition to pass on. I only got the briefest of updates from Cathy O. (during our latest Scrabble match today, lol), and the word was they were trying to get the pain under control while they wait for surgery, which should be soon. That's vague, I know, but that's all I got... I know most of y'all have no clue who my pastor is, but if you could toss up a quick prayer for him in any case, I'd be much obliged. Name's Dr. Robert Thompson. In fact, you could go here, and see a quick pic and/or watch some video sermons that appeared on TV on the east coast, if you were so inclined. He's had the strongest impact on my spiritual life of anyone on the globe.

Well, I guess that's it for now. Tuesday comes, and with it, more of the same, no doubt. Until tomorrow, remember, everybody says, "Don't be hysterical." But I say, "Why not be hysterical?"


Krista said...

Frist I'm going in here for the quotes then I'll reply to this awesome post...LOL!

"Why do you eat that stuff? There's no food in your food!"- Say Anything (pretty okay movie)

Krista said...

"I may be dumb, fellas, but I ain't stupid..." Eight Men Out- Never seen it??

Krista said...

"Don't be hysterical." But I say, "Why not be hysterical?" - Martian Child (pretty okay movie, different)

Krista said...

The Talisman doesn't really sound like my kind of book...Great review, though. I think I got the gist of it..LOL!

Loved The Long Walk I should read it again. Never read The Running Man and I don't think I've seen the movie either...If I did I don't remember it??

Oh My Gosh, I hate Bologna, yuck!

Cute Dog!Funny!

I'll definitely keep your Pastor in my prayers!

Oh, I'm super excited to see what you have to say about Mistborn.....As you may know, he's my all time favorite Fantasy Author!

All the best, Dave!

P.S. It's only three movie quotes on the day and then whatevers left after that, right?

Paula Titus said...

The Running Man - yes! How could I forget that one? Incredible book. Sorry you didn't enjoy the Talisman - I'm sure from your review I haven't read it, but thanks for giving one of my favorite authors some props. :)

I don't think I'd try bologna fries, but fried bologna is good. Just stick a few pieces in the microwave on a paper towel until they look like tiny sombreros with dark edges, yummm - and low in carbs! Who could ask for more?

Paula Titus said...

PS - sending up prayers for your pastor.

logankstewart said...

Hmm. I have a copy of The Talisman that I fancied reading one day. Hmm. They're supposed to be making it into a graphic novel like they did The Stand and The Dark Tower.

Have you read The Dark Tower? They were pretty good, and if you've read a lot of King, then they're probably even better.

Nice intro poem, enjoy Mistborn, and my dog is neurotic like that, too, just magnitudes smaller in size, funny though.

David Wagner said...

15 points for Krista! woot. Yeah, 3 quote limit on the latest post, but it's a free-for-all on all older posts... if you do post comments back that far, let me know! I usually don't go back and check for new comments on anything older than a few days, and it doesn't notify me by email when a new comment posts...

Paula: One order of bologna fries, comin' up! And yeah, The Running Man is a good one alright...

Logan: Who knows, maybe you'd like the Talisman... a lot of people do, apparently. It just wasn't my cup of tea. I do have the first two Dark Tower books on my shelf. I made it through half the first one and stopped. That was about 2 years ago. Maybe I should try again.

havah said...

Loved the photo and the poem...and the dog clip. Big puppies are awesome :)

I hope your pastor gets better soon. I'll say a prayer.

I stopped reading Stephen King several years ago after gorging on him during university. I finally realised he did my psyche no good. o_O You really should write reviews're really very good at them.