Thanks guys. After Pet Sematary, which was pretty intense, I wanted to pivot to something a little different and the mix of mystery, supernatural goings on and coming of age genres seemed like a nice change of pace. Looking forward to getting into it.
Joyland by Stephen King
21 year old college student Devin Jones gets a summer job at Joyland, an amusement park in North Carolina. While there, he gets dumped by his girlfriend, meets a bunch of new people, befriends a terminally ill little boy named Mike and his mom. Over the course of the story all these threads and characters come together as Devin gets caught up in a murder that happened some years before at Joyland's haunted fun house ride.
Part ghost story, part murder mystery and part coming of age story, Joyland presents a fun little adventure with some really likeable characters and a few surprises that I didn't see coming. The titular amusement park and it's inhabitants play a big role in the story and King seems to enjoy throwing out a lot of carny lingo whenever possible.
The book was a fast read that I got thru in a couple of days and a much lighter affair compared to some of King's denser and more intense stuff; a perfect entry point for someone curious about Stephen King but wary of his longer, more ambitious and scarier works.
It’s a very enjoyable book and the second in his pulp fiction phase, the first being The Colorado Kid which I can highly recommend.
I agree with both of you, and recommend "Later" which is the third.
@CoolHandBond, @Barbel thanks for the recommendations. I won't lie, the jacket cover art to Joyland was a big factor in my picking it up; very evocative and noir-ish. These project that same kind of vibe as well; I'll add them to the list.
I think cover art can be a big factor in enjoyment, too, which is why I love CHB's thread on that very subject so much. Oddly enough, it's the pulpier books which get the more interesting covers... Or is that odd, really? 😁
And they say that you should never judge a book by its cover. True, but sometimes it does help with the decision whether or not to purchase said book. 😉
And it's a lot more fun!
Indeed! I especially love vintage cover art - it's brilliantly evocative of the story, time and place.
As a retired bookseller I can 100% guarantee that a cover can sell a book regardless of the content inside. For example check out my latest post on the Book Covers thread.
@CoolHandBond, with covers like those who even needs to read the book? 😅
Glad you liked them @TonyDP 😁
A picture tells a thousand words as they say! 😀
THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SOLAR PONS Basil Copper
More of the same.
Terminal List by Jack Carr. It was ok. Pretty much on genre, have to look for the next book by JC to see if he can keep up the pace of his first James Reece book.
There was a lot of chat on here about Stephen King novels. I read Salem's Lot decades ago. It was alright. I was about twelve so I probably didn't understand it. They made a TV mini-series of it with David Soul which was half decent and I think that is why I borrowed it from the library. Will you UK King fans be watching The Shining on Friday night? I will, but only because it is a Kubrick movie.
The Library Policeman by Stephen King
When insurance salesman Sam Peebles gets stuck with delivering a speech at his rotary club his friend Naomi suggests he check out a few books from the library to try and spruce up his presentation. After misplacing the books and failing to return them on time, Sam runs afoul of Ardelia Lortz, librarian from hell and a creature who is more than she appears to be. In order to save himself from Ardelia' machinations, Sam must come to rely on his friends and also confront a horrifying repressed memory of his childhood encounter with the titular book cop.
The novella has an interesting cadence to it which starts as a somewhat lighthearted, almost funny story before going to those really dark places King is famous for and is a great example of how King never really knows where his stories are going to go when he starts writing them. While it was a fun read overall I do think King could have done a better job of explaining what Ardelia was and how her powers worked as parts of the story seemed to contradict each other, though King has never really been too concerned with explaining how the evil in his books works.
The story was part of King's Four Past Midnight anthology; clocking in at 200 pages it would easily classify as a full length novel if it had been written by anyone else. While I was sure I'd read every story in that book, I came across an online discussion on this one and it did not ring a bell at all. As I read it, I quickly realized that it had somehow slipped through the cracks and I'd never read it. I believe it can also now be purchased individually and is definitely worth a read for fans of the author.
@chrisno1, Stephen King has often said that he's not a fan of Kubrick's movie due to the fact that deviates so much from the source material both in terms of story but more importantly characterizations. Probably the most glaring example of this is Jack Torrance who was a flawed but well meaning father ultimately corrupted by the evil in the hotel. Nicholson played him as a borderline unhinged character right from the first scene. It's a great horror movie but I don't know that it's a great Stephen King story. A made for TV version was aired in 1997. King wrote the screenplay for that one and while it's far more faithful, I found the long running time made for a somewhat dry and at times boring presentation. Neither version really felt like a definitive adaptation to me.
Four Past Midnight is a great collection of four novellas. The Langoliers is my favourite.
Thanks @TonyDP my review is on the Last Film Seen thread and I noted exactly the point you made about Nicholson's performance. It skews the whole film. I came at the film without much pre-knowledge, having not seen it for decades. My memory of it, in summary, was that it was a very effective, shocking film. Not so now I am older and wiser. I was pleasantly surprised when watching a turgid Sky Arts documentary last night Stephen King on Film : one of the commentators made precisely our point. Nicholson's reading of Jack Torrance, or Kubrick's directing of him, is the biggest single reason the movie fails. It is curious how some armchair and professional critics rate it one of his best efforts. None of this chat, I am afraid, makes me want to revisit a Stephen King novel.
I met him once when I worked at Heathrow Airport. I managed the logistics for W.H. Smith T4 and King did a book signing. Can't remember the book. The queue eventually stretched outside the landside terminal building and towards the car park. I arrived at 4.30am and fans were already lined up outside the shop. They were extremely indignant when we asked them to move so we could slide the concertina doors and open the shop. King was very generous with his time - he had a VIP rapid check in so he stayed for about two hours signing copies. I didn't find him over friendly to be honest. My words to him were precisely three "Morning, Mr King." He said zero to me, but then I wasn't the WHS Book Buyer, Store Manager or his London agent. I think his wife was with him. He seemed okay with the fans and it certainly caused a stir.
KILLER IN THE RAIN Raymond Chandler
This is a collection of shorter stories published posthumously, since Chandler didn't want them to be available in his lifetime. This was because the stories, originally published many years earlier in pulp magazines (hello CHB), were ones he adapted and expanded to create his first novels and he didn't want his writing process to be public knowledge.
For example the title story and another called "The Curtain" were combined and expanded into his first novel "The Big Sleep". He repeated this process for the next three novels before writing a book from scratch.
There's nothing inherently wrong with this method, indeed many others have done similar things. Chandler wasn't a prolific author so if one wants to read more than his seven full novels then the short story collections are the way to go. This one is really only for readers who want to compare the different versions of the tales, or perhaps have never read the novels in the first place. That would be a shame, since those are where his reputation rests and repay reading them more than once.
so you learn who killed the chauffeur if you read this version?
Yes, many authors who do not fall into the pulp author category began their careers publishing stories in pulp magazines, including Agatha Christie, H.G, Wells, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jack London, P. G. Wodehouse, Robert Heinlein and many, many more too numerous to mention.
I’d seen this guy around Bay City, but this was the first time he’d spoken to me. He seemed as if he knew a thing or two, but I wasn’t going to let first impressions fool me.
“You’re Marlowe?” he said.
“I just checked my peeper’s licence, that’s what it says”.
“Wise guy, huh? They tell me you’re the shamus to ask if you want to find something out".
“Sure”, I said, “that’s what they’ll tell you".
“Well, they call me @caractacus potts and I got just one question for you”.
I took my time lighting my cigarette.
“Spit it out, sunshine, time’s money”.
“I want to know who killed the chauffeur”.
I sighed. Another one with the chauffeur question. It had been going on for years, all the way back to Howard Hawks and William Faulkner. They say that Bogie had asked, too, but somehow I don’t believe that. I don’t think he would have cared, with his mind and hands full of Lauren Bacall at the time.
I said “Chauffeur? Let me ask you a question first- what makes you so sure there was a chauffeur?”
His face went through more emotions than Boris Johnson at a public enquiry.
“Are you telling me there was no chauffeur?”
“I’m telling you to read Chandler- you’re in for a treat. And maybe, just maybe you’ll find out a thing or two".
He was beginning to look worried, like the captain of the Titanic when he first spotted the iceberg.
"Like what?" he said.
"Like maybe- just maybe- there are characters in the stories like "The Curtain" who aren't in "The Big Sleep", and of course vice versa. And maybe- just maybe- there is no answer to that question".
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
The Key to "The Name of the Rose" - Adele J. Haft, Jane G. White & Robert J. White
About the only Stephen King adaptation I've ever really enjoyed is the 1979 adaptation of Salem's Lot. It's largely faithful to the source and has some downright scary scenes in it; no small feat for a made for TV movie from that era. I bought the DVD a few years ago and I think it still holds up well.
I've never met King myself but he used to frequent a comic book shop that I went to regularly back in the 90s. Legend has it that he would often pull up in a limo, go in, but some comics, sign a few autographs and be on his way. Maybe he felt more comfortable in that environment.
As for me, my next three books have arrived. Hope to find some time to start reading them soon though things have been a little too hectic at home recently.
Looking forward to your thoughts on those, Tony.
We're navigating thru some health issues with mom so there hasn't been much time for anything else lately. Hope to get back to reading soon.
BTW, the next King short story anthology will be coming out in May of 2024. It titled You Like It Dark and one of the stories will be a sequel to Cujo.
Ah, thanks for that - I'll stop perusing Amazon waiting for it to appear till then.
Best wishes to your mother, Tony.
Thanks @Barbel. Here's the Cemetary Dace page for the book; gives a little more info on the stories: