Stephen King is a mediocre writer

Stephen King - The Ranking

83. "The Talisman" (with Peter Straub, 1984, German: "Der Talisman") ★ ½

Manpower deluxe! The living number one and the living number two of horror literature breed together, as the publisher wanted, as the publisher announced, “the greatest horror book of all time”. PR budget: an unheard-of $ 550,000 for the time. After the novel was published, nobody has dared to make such “mega-mega” announcements until today - the world has obviously learned from the “talisman” error.

Editor's recommendation

The story is cabbage and turnips, a strange "Lord of the Rings" variation. Twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer wants to cure his mother, who is suffering from cancer, and has to hitchhike through America from east to west to do so - it goes faster by switching over to a fairytale parallel world ("flipping"), where people in the Middle Ages handle magic potions, the knights have said that and one is afraid of werewolves. The antagonist is Jack's "uncle", the industrialist Morgan Sloat (that would be a great Harry Potter name!), Who once killed the little boy's father, and who in the so-called "territories" is not just a field for his goods sees, but wants to let the queen die to crown herself. It is the story of American colonialism that King and Straub want to retell: the explorers and merchants want to conquer the new territory for themselves immediately.

Editor's recommendation

But Sloat isn't the only schematic figure. The novel doesn't read like a novel, but like a string of ideas from two authors. There is the poor black janitor who turns out to be a wise man; in the middle of the narrative is the off-road story of an orphanage directed by a violent religious fanatic; pedophile hitchhikers Jack must defy; and with the unstable, crying werewolf "Wolf", probably the most unappealing character that ever emerged from the King cosmos. A start-finish story whose end one longs for in the middle of the American continent, and whose parallel universe does not develop a life of its own.

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82. "The Dark Half" (1989, German: "Stark - The Dark Half") ★ ½

1989 turned out to be a very important one for King. His new novel, The Dark Half, was the first to be published after he was withdrawn from cocaine and alcohol. And King really wanted to say goodbye to his pseudonym Richard Bachman - the alias was involuntarily exposed by an attentive reader and bookseller, and King felt part of his artistic identity had been stripped of his. The novel ushered in the farewell to the fictional town of Castle Rock, which the 43-year-old thought was sucked out. In “Four Past Midnight” (1990) and “Needful Things” (1991) he would come back to the enchanted place.

"The Dark Half" is about a parasitic twin named Stark (so in reality Bachman) who, although "absorbed" by his brother in the womb, is later kept alive by him as a fictional writer. When the author Thad Beaumont wants to get rid of his pseudonym, the “dark half” cannot accept it. Stark becomes real, rises from his “grave” and murders in his brother's private environment until he takes him back into the family.

This is a book that must have been indescribably important to King, the "fight against the inner demons", the expectations of the readers, the fears of the writer. As a genre writer, to be taken fully, the fear of the white paper. Only: none of this is of any use for the reader. "The Dark Half" is a tunnel vision story. To speak of fear of luxury would perhaps be unfair, but the author has the problems exclusively for himself.

Good old Pangborn

Above all, something like that doesn't happen to King otherwise, the structure is wrong: the reader learns from the start that George Stark walks among the living, while the other characters in the novel, the writer, his wife and the sheriff doubt, deny, and attest to its existence and only then have to accept. The derivation is of no interest to us, it gets even worse when the frightened wife reads aloud again what her husband put on paper in the dream-madness - and what the reader has already learned shortly before. This is dramaturgy from soap opera television: emotions continue until we all understand the urgency.

At least King has created a rare sympathetic figure among the cops in Sheriff Pangborn (we will meet her again in a later novel). Finally a policeman from Castle Rock again, like the unfortunate Bannerman (whom Cujo once enjoyed).

But at the latest when Sheriff Pangborn, we have reached page 445 of 520 at this point, asks the question: “Can it be that George Stark really exists?”, Then something has gone terribly wrong here. Detective games are only exciting if you can guess.

The mythology of the sparrows - they are regarded as messengers of death that take a person into the underworld - has its charm; that the birds will actually kill is obvious and weakens the finale.

In the end, King almost manages to get around the corner. The “good” writer Thad Beaumont also reveals his downsides; part of him would like to be as daring, brutal and smart as Stark - who, who reveals a certain cuteness, but only wants his "brother" to send him on new adventures by writing.

The novel ends with Thad covering his face with his hands. A nightmare has been warded off, but nothing is clear, nothing at all. Maybe Stark has changed something in him, maybe he will live out his dark side too.

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81. “Needful Things” (1991, German: “In einer kleine Stadt”) ★ ½

The first novel that King wrote completely sober - he had been treated for years of alcohol and cocaine addiction. In the almost thousand-page book, he delivers a fundamental criticism of capitalism, in addition he makes a scornful reckoning with the value of the culture of remembrance, the apparent idyll of the small-town world, as well as an homage to Ray Bradbury - and to television, because that was also received by King The TV phenomenon "Twin Peaks", which started the year before, has not passed without a trace. He even mentions the series in the story, the clumsy Deputy Norris Ridgewick is affectionately compared by a colleague to the Deputy Andy from David Lynch's series (Norris was already on the scene in “The Dark Half” and almost vomited when he did found a man murdered by George Stark who was slain with his own prosthetic arm).

Here, too, the police station serves as a comedy center: "Norris, how many times have I told you not to use the men's room as a changing room?" King also gives references to Lovecraft and his Ctulhu myth, using his name in connection with the Antagonist of the novel, Mr. Gaunt. And somewhere in the middle of it all, George Bush, President of the USA at the time of the book's publication, is getting his fat off.

With “Needful Things”, King concludes his unofficial “Castle Rock” quadrilogy, as if he would also want to put aside his past. Just like the fictional city of Haven before (in "The Tommyknockers", 1987), he also lets Castle Rock go down in a storm at the end (almost go down); the easiest way to get rid of an unloved place. In addition, the ghosts of Cujo haunt the novel (at one point the rabid St. Bernard doesn't even seem to take on the heroes of this story, but with the devil) and the killer from "The Dead Zone", and there are references to the clairvoyant Johnny Smith. The protagonist is Sheriff Alan Pangborn, the official successor to George Bannerman, who was mangled by Cujo and whom we met not so long ago: 1989 in "The Dark Half".

The ghosts of Twin Peaks

Pangborn is still one of the strongest King characters, in the cinema he was embodied with Michael Rooker (in "The Dark Half") and Ed Harris (in "Needful Things") accordingly. This kind of quasi-continuation from Pangborn's life also offered the hitherto unique opportunity in King's oeuvre to meet a main character a second time. Only that the policeman seems to have suppressed the terrible events from "The Dark Half". “The sparrows are flying again” - an armada of birds like a black hole, sleepless nights followed, life went down the drain. Then only: the big nothing.

So he no longer knows that there are supernatural phenomena when the mysterious Leland Gaunt - his first name: a nod to the uncanny power-obsessed Leland Palmer from "Twin Peaks" - opens his shop "Needful Things" in Castle Rock. Pangborn's ignorance is probably just a narrative gimmick to keep the tension going. To begin with, Gaunt is nothing more than a con artist to him. On the other hand, the sheriff is in shock because he had recently lost his wife and son in an accident. We got to know him as an investigator who wanted to find out what the writer Thad Beaumont (protagonist from "The Dark Half") had to do with various murders. It is particularly tragic that he is now speculating about whether Beaumont could have had anything to do with the death of his family.

What he took over from “The Dark Half” is his ability to throw shadow animals on the wall with his hands. Children think it's magic, and he'll still be able to use that magic as a weapon.

The total sell-out

The newcomer to Castle Rock, Mr. Gaunt, miraculously offers all the things his customers have longed for in his shop - pictures, necklaces, but also goods that buyers bring back memories of the best time of theirs Life, almost always childhood. Of course, doing business with the devil has its price - and that is not necessarily measured in large amounts of money.

"Why do so many people believe," says Gaunt, amused, "all the answers were in their wallets?" Rather, buyers have to provide a service: They should play tricks on their fellow human beings. In the end, Gaunt succeeds in pitting almost all of the city's residents against one another. The total sell-out, so to speak.

Gaunt's trick is that he incites people into people who in almost all cases have no problems with each other - so the wrong people are always suspected. In the end, the whole pile of Mikado collapses. And how they cling to their pieces: the more you have to endure for the sake of their possessions, the more you get attached to it. All junkies.

The lean, tall man is King's reference to Bradbury's Mr. Dark from "Something Wicked This Way Comes". The classic abracadabra wizard. Except that this one doesn't come to town with a traveling circus, but with a traveling shop. Since the earliest times of mankind, this creature has made a pilgrimage through the world, was in Europe at the time of the plague, pulled from country to country in a rattle cart, pulled by a parched but angry horse, and drives people crazy.

These dreams are worth fighting for

Yet even though Mr. Gaunt “knows everything about this peculiar thing that people call ownership pride,” King's criticism of capitalism, that everything is just a matter of supply and demand, is somehow wrong. The problem is that greedy people are offered no money, no flashy consumer goods such as televisions or cars - but things with personal value. Myths from childhood or adolescence.

Gaunt sells dreams, magically fetched: the old fishing route from vacation with Dad, the foxtail from a childhood when the others hadn't killed you; a woman even gets sunglasses through which she can see her beloved Elvis Presley and have sex with him.

Who wouldn't be lured by their inner desires? It has little to do with our world of goods. When Polly Chalmers, the friend of Sheriff Pangborn, is pleased with the premonition of death: “Please, dear God, don't let him buy anything!”, Then there is something involuntarily funny. She also got herself into a diabolical deal with Gaunt to make her arthritis go away. Polly is converted in time, she saves herself in the truism "Sometimes it is better to live with pain than to endure it than the shine."

With the death of the little Brian Rusk, who is also a buyer in the “Needful Things” store, King pulls out a particularly heavy artillery piece. Just like the death of five-year-old Tad Trenton ten years earlier in "Cujo", we are saying goodbye to a character that the reader has grown fond of. Brian does the worst imaginable, actually most incredible thing a child can do: suicide. Driven to death by the things he had to do for Leland Gaunt. The turnaround is remarkable because the boy had accompanied us from the beginning, he carried the story with us, but we have to say goodbye to him in the second third.

Perhaps a sacrificial death to reinforce the hatred of Gaunt (when he hears the shotgun shot, he laughs), but it was hoped for a happy ending for the increasingly depressed boy who initially wanted nothing more than what a lot of kids in America apparently want to do on the weekend: make money mowing the lawn in the neighborhood. However, it cannot be ruled out that King did not know how to integrate him into the showdown.

And the showdown is remarkable too. First of all, because King only lets the two opponents meet on the last 30 pages, which he did not have before. It is intended to increase the status of both Gaunt and Pangborn. All the more disappointing is the battle of strength in the King, as in the "Talisman", to the Deus Ex Machina takes hold. In the hands of the policeman magical abilities arise, he brings a paper snake to life and fights the demon with a "bouquet of light" (even in the "talisman" Jack Sawyer could suddenly shoot with lightning). If the reader is surprised, what on earth should Gaunt think of it?

Gaunt tears one or the other provocative slogan in the direction of Pangborn ("Do you think nothing of a free market economy? Are you a communist in disguise?"), But he - and unfortunately also the entire novel - can no longer be helped. At least we suffer with Sheriff Pangborn, who ends up losing his town and keeping a feeling of betrayal.

The translation leaves you speechless

After King's rehab phase with “Stark” in 1989, “Needful Things” became his third book in the nineties, and he was still looking for the old form. The German publishers did better and better business with him, so it was not surprising that Hoffmann & Campe published the book in German at a relatively fast pace in the same year (“Pet Sematary”, for example, only appeared two years later in this country).

Could have taken a little more time with the translation. Incredible weaknesses have been made here. In order to differentiate “partner” from “friend” more clearly, the translator makes him a “boyfriend”; worse are the Germanizations of Anglo-American idioms that nobody in this country knows:

"Not much was missing and he would have promoted him to the middle of the next week." Then someone has "blood pressure somewhere beyond the moon", "until it snows in hell or you give other instructions", "here I come if you want it". Someone is watching an "R-movie" - what does the FSK think about it? There is even an idiot apostrophe ("Ace’s eyes"). The biggest punchline that the translators couldn't handle, however, is Gaunt's farewell greeting when he, after completing his fatal mission, wants to leave the city.

He sticks a note on his shop door with a text on it that begins: “You say hello, I say goodbye”.Do you recognize the song? Left in the original, that would have been a cynical hint - that Leland Gaunt was really nothing sacred. Why not a reference to the Fab Four?

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80. "The Regulators" (as Richard Bachman, German "Regulator", 1996) ★ ½

Stephen King took up his pseudonym Richard Bachman one more time, the "vampire side of my existence", and for the first time since its exposure in the 1980s. So this was King as Bachman. Open cards.

"The Regulators" was Bachman, but more because of a technical idea than of a compelling content - and because every reader knows who is behind the former "coast guards" and "dairy farmers", King might want to show the world: Look here, you know who i am, now you can see how good i can be to someone else. Get lost in my second identity!

Because the characters from the novel "Desperation" did not let him go, he wrote this parallel story for them (it was published shortly after "Desperation"), in which the characters are given different characteristics. The story was linked by the mining monster Tak, who lives in the old mine. Does Tak punish the descendants of the greedy people - the prospectors who once wanted quick fortune and exploited the land?

The barrage subsides

“Desperation”, King writes in the foreword, acts of God, “regulator” of television: both are higher powers. Most readers begin with “Desperation”, the Stephen King book, then “The Regulators”. The other way around would not have helped either. “Desperation” is without a doubt the better book. “Regulators” is the variation, the whimsy, the other, half-valued world. A secondary use.

The novel describes the typical western situation of the siege, only with more absurd attackers. Cartoon cars, the regulators, the outlaws, are attacking the residents of Desperation. It's like the Wild West, but as a community "as it exists on TV". And it reads like this: “Dream Floater, Tracker Arrow and Freedom Fighter have reached the north end of what was once the forty-second block of Poplar Street. Rooty-Toot, Justice and the Meatwagon the southern one. The barrage subsides. "

In the middle of the story, King even pokes fun at himself for the names he gives the action toys: "Always thank someone who gets paid to make up this shit." The characters say it themselves: like a "video game", like a "virtual reality game". “Bonanza”, just in (semi) seriousness, a film directed by Alan Smithee. At the same time, the world of "regulators" is also a parody of suburban life - with their lawn sprinklers and doors with aluminum fly screens. All soon sprinkled with blood.

King makes this “desperation” parallel world fun. But this world remains an experiment, an exercise in style.

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79. Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season (2005, with Stewart O’Nan) ★ ½

“Faithul” is not a bad book, but it is a hermetically sealed fan book and uninteresting for everyone else - not because baseball is not valued in this country. But because here two writers only share their obsessions for the Red Sox with one another.

The two star authors are too aware of their almost-neuroses (they also refer to Woody Allen here), which reduces the stimulus. Standing next to yourself and laughing at it is funny for King and O’Nan - and only half as amusing for the reader as if he could draw his own conclusions about the health of their two fans.

A height of fall should be created, that is what makes “Faithful” so artificial: on the one hand the high art of literature, on the other hand digging in the dust. One knows from the cultural establishments of all countries. For us, it's football. Our writers spread themselves badly when they stage down-to-earthness by trying to recreate the little man's passion for stadium plus sausage stands (where else, except in Germany, can there be a "national authors' team" and "national football team of writers"? So these people aren't just footballers, they can write too!)

"Idiotic Views"

King and O’Nan try to soften their fan existence - both have been with them for 40 years - with self-irony. But should you do that as a follower? “Being loyal to a club doesn't keep you from feeling like a fool, like a joke. But I don't feel that way, ”says O’Nan.

The most amusing thing in the correspondence is that one accuses each other of “idiotic” points of view, although both confess that they lie awake at night and only think about discounts. At the same time, they are laughing, because their publisher Scribner gave the okay for the book (for quite a bit of money, as King writes), although the tension curve in the league for the Boston Red Sox is almost consistently down that season.

In the rushes, too, King and O'Nan differ little from what some others write about the sport: “The key to any sport - perhaps to every kind of endeavor in life - is consistency, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Defense Department ”; “Baseball is also made to meet all the people in the stadium that you rarely see”; "The most delicate paradox in baseball: Although the game never changes, at no time has you seen all of it."

Of course, it can't leave anyone indifferent, and it even seems credible when Stephen King compares the reading dates for his novels with the sports dates for his Red Sox (“Thank God, no overlaps”). But at least the dodges into politics remain constructed - questions like “can we celebrate the American League when our soldiers die in Iraq or we are at the war on terrorism?”.

Likewise the almost palpable claim that the horror king baseball is more emotionally involved than horror films: "I made it through 'Night Of The Living Dead' and the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', but baseball shreds my nerves." he still refers to "Shining" and "Redrum" whenever the nerves flutter. Links on bending and breaking.

A book that should only be of moderate interest to readers outside the United States. To date, it has not been translated into German, perhaps for good reason.

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78. "Lisey's Story" (2006, German: "Love") ★ ½

Yes, that is true love: When a naive, not very independent woman takes care of her working husband. It is noteworthy that Stephen King calls this novel his best. Even more astonishing that many reviewers and even more fans agree with this opinion to this day - so King’s word is the announcement. Perhaps the publisher also thought that gave “Lisey's story” the enigmatic title “Love”, a title like a murderous argument.

"Love" is when the man thinks the woman will follow. In the ROLLING STONE interview, King did not seem to have seen this possibility of interpreting marriage, even though he wrote it down himself. Rather, he saw his story as an attempt to depict marriage itself: “I had the feeling that this was an important book for me because it was about marriage and I had never written about it. I wanted to talk about two things: on the one hand there is the secret world that you build up within a marriage, on the other hand there is the fact that even in this intimate world there are things that we do not know about each other. "

Family violence

After the death of her husband, the successful writer Scott Landon, Lisey defends herself against a petty criminal who wants to usurp unpublished literary material to make money. Mad Doolin aka Zack McCool breaks into her house and overpowers the 49-year-old. In her dream world, Lisey tries to contact her husband Scott, who once told her about his travels to the Boo’ya moon, another dimension in which a monster lives that could help her.

Stephen King has mostly spoken vaguely about the hardships his family, his wife and three children, had to put up with in order for his career to take off. He found a certain alter ego in the character of the alcoholic patriarch Jack Torrance in "Shining"; whether King used violence himself is not known.

For King it was drugs, for Scott Landon it was the mythical creature “Long Boy” who becomes a deadly threat. The wife is a classic help in restoring the workforce: “Two things saved him from the Long Boy. Writing is one of them. The other has a waist around which he can put his arms and an ear in which he can whisper. “The woman, the steel in the other's spine.

Lisey is not to be envied for this role. King doesn't make her seem too intelligent: “There were many words for the stuff Scott left behind. The only thing she really understood was memorabilia, but there was another one that sounded like incunkabilla. ”But the widow knows it herself:“ Lisey, you silly! ”Talking about yourself in the third person - like a Child.

A few more go: "Little Lisey lived in a house that was way too big for her and wrote shopping lists, not novels." And when she does, her husband Scott reads the works of Borges, Pynchon. Lisey reads Collen McCullough. Next: "What is it called again when words start with the same letter?" - 'Alliteration' ". - “Exactly, that's what I mean.” Little Lisey with the “sore feet”: old and old-fashioned.

Women grow when they overcome men

In "Lisey’s Story" the problem that Stephen King has with most of his female characters is shown in full. They break free, become strong, but it is mostly the long shadows of strong men that they have to step out of. Wendy Torrance, Beverly Marsh, Rose Madder, Dolores Claiborne must overcome men. Most of them started off weakly.

Lisey forgets the gangster watching her very quickly, “when the kitchen is filled with the smell of meatloaf.” Is King cobbling together his dream woman here? The character of the writer Scott Landon bears certain traits of him; he too writes his novels to deafening loud music. Scott keeps his wife trapped in the role of a girl: "You really have guts, little Lisey - the world should know."

So her emancipation does not only proceed according to her husband's guidelines, but even according to hers deceased Man - even in death he has power. She follows a trail that her dead husband left for her. The development of Lisey is particularly unpleasant to read, which, like a rebellious girl, remains flat. In the fight with the terrestrial enemies of the Landons, she risks “haughty looks”, shows the “finger” and “laughs out loud” when the word “fuck” is used cheekily.

A dubious climax is reached when Lisey sticks her tongue out at the evil Doolin, sticks her thumbs together and wiggles her fingers. She remains a child, and it is almost unbearable how King thinks that he has given this character freedom. To do what she wants: if in the end it all just remains rebellion. It's her "story," but Lisey ends up saving Scott's legacy and memory.

In the afterword, King also thanks his wife Tabitha, who always did her “sister thing” with her sisters. Such a thing! Why did he keep the "thing" in the dark, why didn't he even try to find out what makes "women tick"?

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77. "Insomnia" (1994, German: "Schlaflos") ★★

The right to live. Long life. Short life. The right to abortion. But also the right to take action against anyone who does not consider life worth living, then by force - King says YES to existence! But “Insomnia” turned out to be just a strange mixture of Greek mythology plus laser beam finger guns plus NRA and anti-abortion criticism plus the “Dark Tower” saga. And he is settling them, if already, then in the city of Derry, notorious above all for “IT”, not a stronghold of liberalism.

Welcome back to the Barrens, the "overgrown valley that stretches through the city center like a badly healed scar". In its sewage labyrinth, the extraterrestrial "it" is no longer up to mischief, but the many unborn, aborted fetuses swim through the sewers as the harvest of evil.

These are marginal descriptions of a larger story that King cannot keep under control, perhaps also because he gives all sides, including the radicals, too much voting power ("Against guns, against the death penalty. But doctors allow vacuum cleaners to shoot in wombs!"). It goes without saying that the advocates of organizations with names like "Womancare" have bad cards in the enchanted Derry.

The approach is convincing because King describes a change in the lives of two retirees with uncanny slowness. The widower Ralph Roberts, like his neighbor Lois Chasse, suffers from increasing insomnia, until at some point sleep is no longer possible. A state of sharpened senses arises in which they both perceive the colors of their world differently - and perceive the life energy of their fellow human beings for the first time.

Ralph and Lois literally see each other's spirits. And the appreciation of life increases. “I see them take their last breath,” says Ralph. "Oh God, I'll never pick flowers again in my life"

The dwarfish, otherworldly beings Klotho and Lachesis (from this point it gets confused) are responsible for the visibility of this astral energy state, who especially want to prepare Ralph for a life-saving mission. Its purpose is to prevent a boy from being murdered who, this is where the “dark tower” world comes in, who can keep the “wheel of existence” going. So that the tower doesn't collapse.

The scissors and the string

It is not necessary to have read the "Dark Tower" saga, of which only the first three volumes existed in 1994, before "Insomnia". But the urgency of Ralph's task, in which one was primarily interested as a grieving widower and then newly in love, only becomes clear when the implications are fully understood, if the bad guys, but also the human "baby killers" ("the scarlet king himself "!) prevail.

The criminals are supported by a kind of crazy fantasy doctor named Atrophos, who with his "scissors" cuts the "invisible balloon cord" on the heads at perverse discretion and thus decides on life and death, in the case of old, young, disabled or disabled people Non-disabled people.

Old people are not useless, on the contrary: old spirit in young body is the best that is possible. That was one of the concerns of King, who was only 48 years old at the time. Ralph and Lois, fallen into the fountain of youth through their “insomnia” skills, save the world.

Especially at the beginning, entertaining truisms ("loneliness is the worst thing about getting older") alternate with entertaining desperation - how, damn it, do I get back to sleep? The doctor recommends Ralph chew honeycomb, a home remedy.

The ending is surely one of the most heartbreaking that King has ever put on paper. It tells the story of letting go, an obligation and a grace that probably (who knows?) Very few people can claim. Or, as the doctors and dying companions Klotho and Lachesis, who are also on the right side as assistants for King, say: The four constants are life, death, plan and chance.

Until then, there will be that wild ride through politics in which the gun fetishists and anti-abortion opponents fight a battle with the hated representatives of "political correctness" - a term that only became really big in those years, the Clinton years .

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76. "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon" (1999, German: "Das Mädchen") ★★

In loneliness you can find solace in idols, in life-threatening situations the thought of people who mean a lot to you helps. Just like baseball player Tom Gordon, who becomes a lifeline for little Trisha: she listens to his team's Boston Red Sox baseball game on the portable radio as long as the batteries last.

Because the nine-year-old got lost in the forest after straying from the path and her family. She wanders from dawn to dawn, miles and miles, more and more exhausted. At some point she sees shadows where there shouldn't be and hears voices that don't seem to come from this world: a monster lurks in the wilderness.

The starting point is as simple as it is inevitable as it is commonplace that it almost seems strange that Stephen King hadn't thought of it all those years before. A helpless person gets lost in nature. The nightmare for everyone, and worse if the victim is a child - bad for the child, bad for the parents, who have to assume the worst.

“The girl” fell in 1999 at that unimaginable time when our little ones weren't even equipped with cell phones. Who was gone was gone.

“The world is a worst case scenario, and everything you feel is true, I'm afraid,” Trisha says to herself. From city child to cave child. And every trout you get your hands on tastes like life and better than worms.

Americanized through

Unfortunately, King uses the opportunity to let his heroine be too lonely and manages - as so often! - the opportunity to cobble together strange monologues for her. Laughter, suffering, delirium, bad jokes and puns: “Elementary, my dear Watson!”. King does this a lot in his stories, his humor being that of a cheeky kid with a penchant for role-playing games. It's not always the reader's sense of humor, King's characters often have to say what comes to mind to their creator, not to themselves.

In portrayal of desperation, he puts in his nine-year-old - thoroughly Americanized - sentences that no person of her age would say: “Can't you just give me a chance, just leave me alone?” - “Yes, but maybe expected here somebody an awful lot of a child "-" Yeah baby, collect loads of supplies. "No child who is sitting in their own diarrhea cries and laughs at the same time - recognizing the absurdity of this existence is the suffering that is reserved for adults only.

The thought of "Little Girl Lost" remains more interesting than the story. This is the story of a girl who has yet to go through puberty but is already dealing with altered smells, tastes and body fluids of all kinds.

Trisha recognizes the fear of the "bear thing" and its "poisoned innards" as the "true subliminal perceptible". Of course, she takes her lesson with her at the end: "The world had teeth, and she could bite with them whenever she wanted".

And Stephen King has the opportunity to once again point out his own childhood trauma: Those who have to do their business in nature should never stretch their bare bums where the poison ivy grows.

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75. The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams (2015, German: "Bazaar of Bad Dreams") ★★

20 king stories from US magazines or unpublished ones, three so far only in German. Not all of them are convincing, some are also rather newfangled, with increasing age King becomes a technology skeptic (Google - "full of information, but basically stupid as a bean-straw"). The dangling to the world economic crisis (Goldman-Sachs) seems a bit forced.

“Summer Thunder”, with its portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world, takes up “debt limits” and the “pillar of the euro” as a senseless political calculation with which mankind threw itself even more into chaos - instead of stopping nuclear doom. In this story, King also deals with the traffic accident that almost cost him his life in 1999, perhaps for the last time.

In “Obituaries” King devotes himself to trash portals like “TMZ”, the amalgamation of gossip, blood addiction and delimitation - with a swipe at “cultural critic” that comes deep from his soul: “cultural critic means that he will spread his wings to leisurely To fly over the landscape and poop where it pleases him. "

"Life after death" (once again dedicated to Surendra Patel) with its precise title certainly stands out, King refers in his introduction to the novel "Revival" published shortly before the "Bazaar": What comes after death? King expresses his dream of experiencing the old life a second time, mending mistakes - or just being able to enjoy them.

President Hillary Clinton

One of King's best-known newer short stories is “Ur”, which he wrote for Amazon - the mega-corporation brought out its second generation of the Kindle reader at the time and considered it a great idea to have an old-school writer advertise it by writing a story wrote for the reader. King agreed, but wrote - of course - a story in which the Kindle does not offer quite as friendly service. "Why can't you just read on the computer like we all do?", An English studies lecturer gets thrown at his young lover, and that starts the problems.

King dissects the power of computers. It was algorithms that recognized the language of the “Anonymous” author of the unveiling novel “With all might” and assigned it to its creator, who remained in the dark. The Kindle now opens the door to another world. King conjures up the "man in the yellow coat", born of his passion for Robert W. Chambers ’" King in Yellow ", who speaks here of the" trembling tower ", with which King naturally brings his own" dark tower "into play.

However, his assessment in 2009 that Hillary Clinton would be elected 44th President was wrong.

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74. "Rose Madder" (1995, German: "Das Bild") ★★

"Rose Madder" and "Lisey’s Story" are considered Kings "women novels", more curiously, "development novels". Stephen King may not be entirely correct in his assessment of the quality of both works. "Lisey" is not his best, "Rose" but also not his worst novel - even if many followers faithfully follow these assessments.

But “Das Bild” has its flaws. Unlike Lisey Landon, Rose Madder is a young woman, albeit a beaten one, but she is also similarly naive, dependent. It is maturing, King might say, flowering, only by the grace of a man. Again a female figure, whose emancipation takes place through demarcation from a dominant man.

Soap opera

After her escape, Rose met Bill for the first time, a man who treated her well - and at the age of 30 she immediately fell into the role of a girl: “Thank you for the best time, thank you for the most beautiful day of my life since I grew up. “Phew. It wouldn't be any different in teenage novels, would it? At least King can stand by himself when he notices that it all seems a bit like a soap opera.

As in “Insomnia” published a year earlier, King knelt deeply into Greek mythology (his own “Dark Tower” city of Lud also occurs), turned the violent husband into a literally horned husband, a “bull on the open field, scratching his hooves and looking for the red cloth that had infuriated him ”. The minotaur in the labyrinth. To explain Norman Daniels ’perversions, he makes himself sexually abused, once abused by his father.

Of course, Rose Madder takes up the fight with the husband: "Norman learned what it meant to be the bitten and not the bite." Like a real bull with a nose ring, she leads him by the nose in the end.

It is unclear whether King wants to caricature gender stereotypes or whether he might represent them himself. Rose's pissing at her new, affectionate lover Bill is involuntarily weird. “Don't hurt me” - “No, definitely not”, “Promise?” “Get on - have you ever ridden an iron pony?” And she feels like the girl who is led by the boy to the prom . So she is a girl. And then she is also a fairy tale character: "Rose woke up from the dream like Snow White after she had eaten the apple."

The second topic - what counts is not what others have done to us, the past, but the future - not only takes a back seat, it is only embellished with truism: “It doesn't depend on the blows we get but on those we survive. "

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73. “End of Watch” (2016, German: “Mind Control”) ★ ★

The German publisher is again spoiling the game, revealing more in the title than is actually necessary. Because the conclusion of King's first hardboild opus, the Bill Hodges trilogy, is not just about the psychic abilities of the “Mercedes killer” Brady Hartsfield, but also about the “end of the shift” of the retired cop Hodges.

With a modified handheld game, the comatose Brady drives people to their death by "mind control". He even slips into their bodies, all from the bedside. Bill Hodges mistrusted the young man's coma from the start, as did Dr. Loomis in the Carpenter film "Halloween" the killer Michael Myers: He is certain that evil is still slumbering in the resting patient.

The trilogy finale is disappointing because “End Of Watch” lacks the big theme. "Mr. Mercedes ”considered - also prophetic! - terrible ways of terrorism as well as justified skepticism about the loss of privacy in social media. The second part, "Finder's Keepers" ("Finder's reward"), was an homage to literature itself, and how fanatics can get lost in it, up to and including murder.

Mass suicide

The "Mind Control" has the "Mind Control", the incitement to mass murder, but the idea is well known and does not support the entire narrative. It's just not enough by King's standards. There is no view of the big picture, even if Hartsfield does not see the true power over the mind in telekinesis, but in the reality of technology, social media and their users, his trolls, the bullying that leads to "mass suicides" .

King's comparisons to political reality are also hair-raising, for example when he compares the life of the patient Hartsfield with the ultimate hate figure, the US President: "He lives like Donald Trump." Has people on his conscience, "and there he sits:" Meals are served to him by his staff, his clothes are washed. ”Brady Hartsfield himself equates his crime of destroying the brains with the approach of the“ Islamic State ”: to reduce cultural treasures to rubble and ashes. Phew

When Bill Hodges sees his end coming, his upper body pinches and squeezes, he at least remains true to himself. He doesn't believe in internet-based self-diagnostics, he didn't get along with the web right from the start. He calls his assistant Holly.

72. "The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three" (1987, German: "Drei") ★★

1987 would go down as King's busiest year in his bibliography, even though he - or precisely because he - was heavily addicted to cocaine. Four books came out then, three of them were successful. This is the fourth book.

Volume one, "The Gunslinger" (1982), was an open-ended western with a gunslinger hero who walks over corpses - including children's corpses - to achieve his goal, the Dark Tower. Why King slows down the pace in the sequel is inexplicable.

It is remarkable that many critics saw a weakness in the later, simultaneous conception of volumes five to seven, which seemed to them as if a large praline had been unnecessarily cut into three parts. Book two, "The Drawing Of The Three", shows the opposite case: important ingredients are missing, and even King it might not have been clear where the journey was going.

What will become of this world?

The new companions are introduced too laboriously, a woman in a wheelchair with a personality disorder, a heroin junkie, everyone screams at each other all the time, whether in New York, the parallel world of the gunslinger or on the plane - there are branches about racism in the 1950s , only the story itself doesn't turn any further. The drug addict Eddie falls in love with Susannah, but there is no motivation here either. The novel looks like a 1000-pager that has been cut down to 500.

What King succeeds in establishing is the principle of trust as the basis of an alliance: the gunslinger, perhaps mortally wounded, puts his life in the hands of his new companions, since he himself no longer has any strength. They have to give up their old life for him and take him on the journey to the “Dark Tower”, in a world that they do not yet understand. Although the tower will only matter to Roland, they know that, and although they may die in the process. It is a book of “Always on”.

This cosmos remains largely unskilled, there are few other animals apart from the "giant lobsters", no significant landscapes, no geographical dimensions, no real idea of ​​this world.

King announced at the time that there would be at least six books on the "Dark Tower". Anyone who reads “Drawing” asks himself: Did he not know where he was going while writing - or is he still holding back because the big picture could only be drawn in the next volume?

71. “Four Past Midnight” (1990, German “Nachts”) ★★ ½

The book is King's first collection of short stories since the acclaimed “Different Seasons” of 1982, and the author stated how great the pressure was in a long foreword. One should see to him that, unlike in the "Seasons", he relies more on supernatural horror itself. Instead of the real horror of people doing something terrible.

Of the four stories, only the first is completely convincing, "Langoliers", a story about people who involuntarily travel into the past through a gate in heaven, but are caught between times. Thanks to a TV film adaptation with miserable special effects, most King fans have to laugh at the mention of the Langoliers: The time wasters looked ready to shoot in 1995.

Twelve passengers wake up during a flight to find that they are the only ones left of several hundred. You land in a godforsaken airport. And then it goes, King simply masters this kind of horror, with an increasingly urgent tension: An unpleasant hum gets louder (also from book page to book page), and King has to be allowed to be asked whether the resolution does justice to it.

Will she, like the last time in "It", when a werewolf pounds down the stairs louder and louder, and what you see is really as bad as what you feared. In fact, the "Langoliers" will come at some point. Drum roll! Predatory flying machines that devour the past and thus the old world - leaving nothing but blackness where time has passed.

Here King reveals one of his darkest visions: the then becomes rubbish, annoying, terrible, and those who have to clear away the past leave nothing, no memories. Perhaps "Langoliers" is also a reminder to people to deal better with their time, to take more time, or simply to pay less attention to time.

The story has familiar King elements - with the panicked passenger Toomy, he has given the survivors a character who can cause just as much damage as the monsters. Also involuntary comedy (two of the characters are so shocked by the sight of the Langoliers that they clasp each other screaming).

With Nick Hopewell (the name!) The author also introduces a character that has never been seen again in the King cosmos. Kind of an over-character. A British secret agent, highly intelligent and powerful, who is heavily affected by his past: He once shot and killed three boys whom he mistakenly believed to be killers. Half Bond, half Jack Reacher, Hopewell has become a political figure who lies outside the national borders that King otherwise outlines for his characters. A person from another universe.

Strong two

Novella two, "Secret Window, Secret Garden", suffers from the same problem that the two closing stories have: good starting position, stupid finale. It was certainly not a good idea for King to explain the relationship between the novels "The Dark Half" and this "window" himself.

It quickly becomes clear who is hiding behind the obtrusive old farmer John Shooter, who lies in wait for the writer Mort Rainey: he once stole his short story and cashed in on his success. Rainey doesn't know the man, wondering how to get rid of him. Or WHAT to get rid of.

“The Library Policeman” builds itself up wonderfully at first, it is about childhood fears that cannot be shaken off. Realtor Sam Peebles is being followed by a "library policeman" who collects books that have been forgotten to return. Of course, this is not really about a "library policeman", just as little about a fatherly authority, but also not about a "super-ego" that wants to control the psyche for cleanliness.

With the dissolution, the hardest of all causes is chosen, Peebles was sexually abused by a stranger as a child, this was the "policeman", the cause of his trauma. The big fight at the end turns out to be a strangely arranged monster fight.

For this, King and the librarian Ardelia Lortz sketched one of his most fascinating characters, judging by the brevity of the novella: The shapeshifter is not only the client of the “library policeman”, but also a relative of “It”, which feeds on the fears of young people. King's portrayal, the attractive "Ardelia", who seduces a young man in the cornfield and then makes him dependent on her up to complicity, he becomes an alcoholic, she more and more a trunk reptile, is one of the best in her tragedy this delivered its rather mediocre decade.

The "Midnight Stories" are concluded with "The Sun Dog". The same applies here: Great premise, perhaps the most exciting in a long time, but a miserable conclusion.

Approach: Don't challenge fate too often. Young Kevin has a Polaroid camera that always takes the same photo, regardless of who or what he is pointing the device at. You can see a dog lying in front of a fence. Then he realizes that the animal does move a little bit from picture to picture. Towards the person who took the photo - and who, now he looks like a hellhound, is getting more and more ready to jump. Also here at the end: an action showdown including a simple trick of how the mutt can be defeated during the transition from the picture to the real world.

What a missed opportunity!

Stephen King - The Ranking