Monday, November 17, 2014

Beth’s Books: Double shock powah!

Beth's BooksA lot of good books have come out already this month, and I want to write about the new publications from my two favorite authors: Stephen King and Anne Rice.

First is Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat, in which she revisits the vampire world, including the Brat Prince himself. This book was a total delight. It’s been a while since we had a vampire book from her, and seeing the vamp gang again was like seeing old friends. Very old friends. Lestat is his usual irrepressible and impulsive self, but he isn’t one to back down from his destiny.

When a mysterious Voice begins plaguing blood drinkers all over the world, exhorting them to use the Fire Gift to burn the young ones, the vampires who are fairly new to the life (so to speak) are killed horribly. The group of elder vampires come together to figure out how to deal with this threat to their existence. As it becomes clear who (or what) the Voice really is, it is obvious that it is not just the young ones who are at risk; their entire tribe could be wiped out.

It was wonderful to read of these elders coming together again, after so many years of isolation from each other. They really are a family, and they each bring their own beauty and strength to the group. Rice’s description of the reunion, with all of these exquisite creatures dancing as they become caught up in the music, is a thing of beauty. Her writing is spare and concise in this book, able to convey a moment or a scene with minimal verbiage.

There seem to be a few things that are unresolved (what is up with you, Rhoshamandes?!), and I hope this means that Ms. Rice is happily back in the world of her Children of the Savage Garden. I think there are many more tales to be told there, and I look forward to them all.

Next is Stephen King’s latest, Revival. Oh my goodness.

This book gave me the creeps more than almost all of his other books. I still recall how The Shining bothered me so much at the time, and several others have lingered with me. But this one gave me a very uneasy feeling that has stuck with me several days after finishing it, and I don’t think it is going to leave me anytime soon.

I don’t want to give anything away, because you really don’t know where he’s going with this story until late in the book, but I’ll say that it is a bleak novel without any innate sense of hope. This seems like a bit of a departure for King...I usually finish a King book feeling that somehow, some way, every little thing’s gonna be all right. I finished this one with sense of horror, thinking, “Well, I guess we’re all fucked.”

King explores two things extensively in this book: music and religion. The protagonist of the book is Jamie, a good kid who gets into music at an early age and loves what rock and roll makes him feel and where it takes him. Except for that pesky addiction, but I won’t say anything more about that. What was fun to read was the sheer joy that Jamie experiences as he begins to get into music. Although I’m not a musician myself, I’m a huge fan, and I understand how music can move a person. I think it’s fair to say that all musicians start out as fans, so in that regard, I can relate.

As for the religion aspect, if the right wing religious people get a whiff of what this book says about religion and the existence of any god, they’re going to have a thrombo. This is King’s most damning condemnation of religion that I’ve ever read. Previous books have had a bit of a religious element to them. He has always explored the conflict between good and evil. The prime example is Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg from The Stand (and other mentions in various books). As Mother Abigail tells Nick in that book, when Nick says writes that he doesn’t believe in God, “Well, He believes in YOU!” That sense of possibility and mystery is gone in this book. This is more of an attitude of “if God exists, he’s a sadistic and psychotic asshole.” It’s quite an interesting change, and I wonder about the pathway that has brought SK to this point, and if this reflects his own views or is just a part of the story.

It’s obvious that he has nothing but contempt for religious charlatans and grifters. I share his contempt, and I find it dismaying that there are still so many such people out there. None have quite the dark side of Charles Jacobs, least as far as anyone knows…!

A couple of great reads, and I recommend both of them highly. If you’re into that sort of thing, of course. Not for everyone!

1 comment:

  1. ...if he exists, he most certainly IS a sadistic, psychotic jerk... and that is taking the nice way out to describe him... If folks who claim to be religious, not pious, just going to church regularly and "Christian", really WERE Christian, then who in the so-called underdeveloped countries would have to live their third world life..?

    Anywho... I don't like stories about vampires (except for Night Flier by S.King)... I tend to think vampire story all suck at one time or another..! (Get it?)


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