Friday, June 25, 2010

The Wheel of Fortune ...

I just finished reading The Dead Zone, and I couldn't believe I'd never before noticed that Johnny Smith's lucky run at the Wheel of Fortune culminated with the wheel landing on nineteen ...

And I call myself a King expert ;)!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Stories Roland Chooses to Share

Roland is one of the most complex literary characters I've ever encountered (under the flat exterior, of course). This point is driven home to me at the oddest times. I just finished Wizard and Glass, and I was just taken aback that he could share the story of Susan Delgado and her terrible fate, difficult as it was, yet balked at recounting what happened to his mother.

In my opinion, what happened to Susan was far worse than what happened to Gabrielle Deschain. If I was in Roland's shoes, that would be the story that would refuse to come out at almost all costs. However, difficult as it was, he shared it with his ka-tet fairly easily once he made up the decision to do so.

There are a couple of reasons I can think of for this ...
1. The tale of Susan serves as a warning to Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy. Death is a constant for those that travel with Roland of Gilead.
2. His mother's fate tormented him more because he was actively involved.
3. Whatever else she was, Gabrielle was his mother. The nother-son relationship is complex, and Marten rubbing Roland's nose in Gabrielle's infidelity probably flamed the embers to a fire that already existed.

All of those things are probably true, but I think the crux might be even simpler: Gabrielle Deschain was a traitor. His mother, the woman who gave birth to him and sang him cradle songs, was a traitor. Her blood ran in his veins, and she was a traitor.

I think Roland was as embarrassed of what she had become as of the role he played in her death. What do you thinnk?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Allie Wants the Man in Black

Fulfilling her part of their coital bargain, Allie begins to tell Roland the first (but not last) story-within-a-story that characterizes the entire DT series. When Roland puts a hand on her stomach, Allie "starts violently", obviously jittery about the situation ... but it's clearly not Roland she is afraid of.

The Man in Black entered Tull on a windstorm, shaking the town's residents into silent avoidance. His black robe gave him the aura of a religious man, a notion at odds with the crazy grin he wore.

Allie was the only person who noticed him when he first entered Sheb's, the other inhabitants being caught up with Nort's wake, although their treatment of him before his death was not exactly kind. Even the fact that the man was laid out with a sprig of devil-grass serves as kind of a sick joke. This continued cruelty of a man tortured in life weighs heavily on Allie.

Allie's reaction to the Man in Black emphasizes the parallels between the dark man and Roland. She feels a tremendous sexual yearning, although there is a fear mixed into the carnal jolt that is not present when she lays eyes on the gunslinger. As she pours him the "best" whiskey he requests (without even seriously considering giving him the crap she could), he looks directly in her eyes and the pull between her legs grows to a fever pitch. Allie fears her own sexual urges as they apply to the Man in Black, viewing her feelings as a weakness.

When Allie expresses her frustration with the wake (and the attendants' prior treatment of Nort), the Man in Black observes, "It excites them. He's dead. They're not."

Yes, it's fair to say that the Man in Black traffics with death ... and poor Allie does not know how to deal with her own automatic reactions to the power he has, both over her and in general.

Nineteen Followers ;)

How cool is this??????????????????????????????? (I have such a simple mind lol)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Allie: The Adventures of Roland and a Woman

Roland first sees Allie, a once-pretty woman now beaten down by exhaustion and marked by a scar in the middle of her forehead, behind the bar at Sheb's, Tull's honkytonk. He asks if she has meat, and she responds, "Sure," elaborating that it's threaded stock (clearly a lie--one that Roland recognizes, of course) and warning him that it's expensive.

Like the bar's patrons, Allie appears to be resentful of the gold Roland possesses, allowing him to buy three burgers. Allie is cold and distant to the point of rudeness, giving him lumps of salt only at his request (lumps he will unquestionably have to break up with his fingers) and lying to him about whether or not he has bread.

When Roland encounters Nort, the weed-eater, Allie makes "a small moaning sound". After Roland turns over a piece of gold to Nort and realizes that the weed-eater has had some sort of interaction with the Man in Black, the honkytonk empties out; Allie (rightfully) blames Roland for losing a night's worth of business.

When she realizes that she has information about the Man in Black, though, Allie becomes very valuable to Roland. In the universal language that exists between men and women, Allie's anger gives way to "speculation" and "a high wet gleam he had seen before". When Roland does not exactly jump at her implied offer, the gleam is "replaced by hopelessness, by a dumb need that had no mouth."

Allie is a provincial woman who has clearly struggled through life, clawing for everything she has. She is past subtleties and says point blank to Roland, "I guess maybe you know my price. I got an itch I used to be able to take care of, but now I can't." Roland looks at her for a bit, contemplating her offer. What flashes through his mind (that the scar won't show in the dark, that her body is pretty decent, that she'd once been fairly attractive) is completely irrelevant, though ... their subsequent sexual union has been ordered by ka.

The chapter ends with the words, "There was no light to hide their act". What does this mean? Why does King choose to use 'no light' instead of just saying 'darkness'?

And how does Roland's interaction with Allie effectively illustrate his relationships with all women (with the exception of Susan Delgado and possibly Jenna of "The Little Sisters of Eluria")?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

John F. Kennedy, Gunslinger

Throughout the Dark Tower series, John F. Kennedy is mentioned as a modern-day gunslinger. You can imagine my surprise when I read the following footnote in Vincent Bugliosi's "Four Days in November", an in depth look at Kennedy's assassination:

"There was one red rose from (Jackie Kennedy's) the bouquet that did not make it into the hospital. Stavis Ellis, one of the Dallas police cyclists who had led the close-tailing presidential limousine to Parkland (Hospital) is among the large crowd of people who have swarmed around the emergency area in back of the hospital. After President Kennedy and Connally have been removed from the limousine, he can't resist the temptation to look inside the car. He sees several puddles of blood on the rear seat and floorboard. Right in the middle of one of those puddles lay a beautiful red rose."

Coincidence? I'm not sure I believe in random coincidences anymore ...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dirty Dogs!

In "The Little Sisters of Eluria", Roland comes upon a starving dog with a white cross shape on its chest.

The so-called Jesus Dog is enjoying a snack ... the remains of a young man named James Norman. More specifically (and more disgustingly), the cur is trying to chew through the guy's cowboy boot and ... well, you know. Yuck, right? "Loved of family, loved of GOD" he might have been, but James Norman wound up stewing slowly but surely in an Elurian watering trough just the same.

I'm reading "Black House" (King and Peter Straub) at the moment, and even a longtime King reader like me can still be surprised. The description of another slat-sided canine (twinner to the Jesus-dog, perhaps?) gnawing away on a human foot still encased in its shoe--this time a child's size five sneaker--is eerily reminiscent.

Are these sorts of similarities unconscious on King's part, or is the mirror depiction of the feet of poor James Norman and little Irma Freneau purely coincidental?