Sunday, January 27, 2008

A little warning, if you please, dear Mr. King

Last night I was knocked slightly off-kilter when Jessie grabbed Blaze by Richard Bachman/Stephen King and said, "Hey, what's this about?". I looked at it, took it from her, began turning pages, read the back, read the inside flap, and finally gave up. "I have no idea," I said. "I don't think I've read it." As I allowed the shock of the idea that an unread King book has sat in my house for God-knows-how-long, I remembered that Duma Key was sitting on my front step, freshly delivered from Amazon.

Today after Jessie left, I cracked open Blaze and began to read. As I did, flickers of familiarity came over me and I realized that I had, in fact, read this book. Though it bothers me that I cannot remember the book, it's a consolation to know that I read it in a day. I'm not becoming addle-brained.

The unease stuck with me, though, as I cracked open Duma Key. That same tone of familiarity was sticking in my head as I read the first few pages of the first chapter. I kept thinking "I've read this. I KNOW I've read this." But of course that would be impossible, since the book has only recently come out.

Then I read this line: "It was what happened to Monica Goldstein's Jack Russell Terrier, Gandalf" on page 20. And I remembered. Monica Goldstein's Jack Russell Terrier, Gandalf, met an untimely end in a battle with a mustard colored Hummer in King's story Memory, which appeared in the summer 2006 issue of Tin House. I read it and it maintains its place in my world as the most emotionally horrific story I've ever read.

I was not prepared to re-read the most emotionally horrific story I've ever read, sitting here on a Sunday night when my ex-boyfriend got married yesterday and my favorite neighbor stopped over today to say goodbye because he's moving away. I was looking forward to some good old-fashioned horror. So please, Mr. King. Stephen. May I call you Stephen? Please, when you're going to repeat a story that is downright psychologically damaging, a story where a Jack Russell named Gandalf might as well be a Cavalier King Charles named Gatsby, a story that I vowed to never read again even though I loved it so, please give me a little warning. I don't need a phone call or a personal note or anything, but maybe something along the lines of "First chapter published as Memory in Tin House Vol 7 No 4"....think about it next time, would you? This Constant Reader would appreciate it.

Just as an aside, I'm on page 35 of Duma and, even with the emotional scarring, it's promising to be one Hell of a book. Pick it up, yeah?

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