Contented Reader

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The Stand

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The Stand

Stephen King


This has been my favorite of King’s books, ever since I first read it.

I first read it in college.  I think it’s likely that was the same paperback copy I have sitting on my knee right now.  It was a memorable first reading.  In the book, a plague- a government-engineered superflu- kills about 99% of the population of the world.  The survivors slowly come together in an eerily deserted country, and try to rebuild some sort of civilization, with the sides of Good and Evil drifting together in different cities.  The most effective bits are the images of a deserted America.  My first time, I read it when I had remained in my dorm over spring break, when nearly all of the other students were gone.  With plenty of time on my hands, I’d read about the eerie, deserted, corpse-filled buildings for hours in my eerie, deserted dorm lounge.  Then I’d walk back up the quiet empty halls to my empty room, microwave something for supper… and try to go to sleep.

You really couldn’t choose a better setting in which to read The Stand.

I like this book, even though I am better able to see its flaws now than I was as an undergraduate.  I don’t think King spends much time revising, or tightening his prose.  But he keeps the story moving, and now, as then, I love the characters.  I see myself especially in their flaws- in Harold’s awkward pretension, in Larry’s awareness of his own cold selfishness, in Lloyd’s desire to be loyal even to a bad master.  I like the powerful images it creates.  And if it’s sometimes bloated, or sometimes a little more ambitious than it lives up to, well, that’s forgivable in the service of a good story.

But I do have one question for Mr. King.

Something I never noticed before.

It’s strange that I never noticed it before.

Mr. King, can you help me understand the conversation that Mark has with Harold and Fran and Perion over dreams and the theological significance of the superflu on page 535?  My specific question about their conversation is related to the death of Mark on page 532, and the death of Perion on page 533.  I was just a little puzzled by that, was all.


Written by Contented Reader

September 22, 2012 at 7:12 am

Posted in Reviews


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