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Fart Gas From Outer Space
Dreamcatcher - Stephen King
Member Name: assethound
Dreamcatcher - Stephen King
Date: 22/03/01, updated on 26/03/01 (149 review reads)
Advantages: Rattling good yarn
Disadvantages: Those with weak stomachs would be better off with something a little more cerebral
The day Dreamcatcher was released I faced a challenge.
I couldn't buy it on the net because I didn't want to wait that long, and the same went for waiting till the paperback edition came out - but how could I avoid the hefty £17.99 price tag?
A trip around every bookshop in town (W H Smiths (who sometimes slash the prices of new hardbacks), Ottakars, James Thin, and even in desperation Just Books (long shot) and Book Sale (even longer shot) came out with one clear winner.
James Thin £12.99
WH Smiths £14.99
So clutching my huge hard bundle of the bizarre in both sweaty hands, I headed home.
Before I bought the book I had no idea what it is about, having the rule of thumb that any Stephen King book is worth the ride, even if it doesn't come up to the same standard as my favourites: Insomnia and It.
So what is it about?
Unsurprisingly, Maine features. The woods that Maine is famous for to be exact, and that have been central to King's fiction for many years.
Unsurprisingly again, from a writer who salts his works with cross-references and repeated themes, the plot involves a group of adults who experience a moment of life-changing collective strength as children.
Losers truimphing against bullies seems to thread through King's work, from Carrie onwards. This is the modern day version of good triumphing over evil, probably one of the oldest and most prevalent stories known to humanity.
Flashbacks to childhood inform the story right up until the final pages, another classic King technique. Although I felt like I knew practically nothing for most of the book, King's storytelling talents kept me reading, eager to solve the puzzle and find out what the heck was going on.
There are monsters to battle in this book, as there are in every King book - in this case heralded by an
The worst flatulence I have ever experienced was in a caravan after consuming a lethal and evidently horribly unstable combination of bitter and chilli.
If you think that is bad, the gassy and toe-curlingly scary monsters in this book will have you scrambling away from the merest whiff when in a confined space.
The other manifestation of the monsters in this book will ensure rocketing sales of Flash Mould and Mildew Cleaner for bathrooms, and the mass emptying of student fridges and breadbins. A fungus infects things and people...with strange and horrifying results.
Fart gas from outer space and creepy red fungus are not the only manifestations of monstrousness in King's latest novel.
When a space ship is found deep in the woods (remind you of TommyKnockers anyone), and scores of local hunters start to read each others minds (TommyKnock...well you know King), the army is called in.
This is another manifestation of the big bully theme that runs through King's work (that man sure has issues).
There are shades of Heart of Darkness here, with the homicidally crazy chief even called Kurtz after the malignant character from Conrad's novel (filmed as Apocalyse now). There are shades of Vietnam (another big theme emerging in King's work - see Hearts In Atlantis), with helicopter gunships cutting through the air laden with Kurtz's Imperial Guard and Blue Boy troops, surgically dealing with the problem of alien invasion.
Typically, there are other levels to this story.
Who is Duddits?
What is the mysterious link between the four men we meet at the beginning of the story?
What do the aliens want?
Will the meeting of minds undermine authority, or make it easier to oppress?
Will anyone survive?
It astonished me that Stephen King managed to write another novel so soon after his accident.
Has the accident change
d the way King writes?
Well there is definitely a preoccupation with physical pain. This is probably the most graphically written of his novels.
I wouldn't say that King is back on top form yet - but the characters are believable, although none has yet matched up to Ralph Roberts in Insomnia for me - although none of his other characters have ever matched up to Ralph Roberts in my eyes.
The common themes are there, the monsters are there, and the "shit weasels" definitely rank up there with some of the most skin-crawling of any in the horror genre.
However, I liked this book better than Hearts In Atlantis, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, his two latest offerings.
I don't think we will see the last of King for a long time yet, and while this novel is not among his best, it is still a damn good read.
Having bought my first hardback King novel, I will not buy paperbacks as a matter of course. I have gone through three copies of It so far - I could have bought a hardback easily for that price, and it would have been easier to weigh down the lid of the toilet when my imagination was running away with me.