Friday, June 5, 2009

"Tak," Goes the Raven

Brown the Border Dweller has a pet raven named Zoltan. Zoltan, by the way, was the name of a fortune-telling arcade game popularized in the early seventies and I'm pretty sure it is the official name (or part of a name) for a certain type of bird.

I mention Zoltan for several reasons. First, of course, is that anyone who has read King's The Stand should theoretically be getting a not-so-friendly feeling about Old Zoltan. Of course, anyone who's read Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven" might well be getting the same feeling. The fact that Brown tried to teach "The Lord's Prayer" to the bird but he eschewed it in lieu of a little ditty about beans being the musical fruit is possibly also noteworthy.

Then there's the thing with the fortune teller. I'm not saying that King meant for this desert raven to be able to see the future, but ... okay, maybe I am saying that, a little. Zoltan says to Roland, for example, "Screw you and the horse you rode in on" ... and, when Roland awoke from a short nap, he found that his mule had died and the bird was literally eating its eyes.

Finally, there's the noise Zoltan makes while walking on the roof when Brown and the gunslinger are preparing their meal. The noise? Words that should be familiar to anyone who's read The Regulators (King as Richard Bachman) and/or Desperation: "Tak-tak-tak."

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