Journey Through The Waste Lands

Friday, August 21, 2009

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Well, friends, I have decided to delve back into Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. It's been years since I left Roland and his friends sitting by a beach at the end of Book 2, The Drawing of the Three, and it's high time I met back up with them. I fell into King's dark and wonderous imaginings in my early teens and became a firmly dedicated fan halfway through the pages of the first book I picked up. My first King experience was It, followed closely by The Tommyknockers, which I finished weeks before the made-for-TV-movie came out. The Tommyknockers was my introduction to the shock of falling in love with a novel and then seeing its watered-down and sometimes completely altered interpretation in visual form. Suffice it to say, I spent a large chunk of the movie yelling at my television set, saying things like, “What the *&%^ do you mean you thought you lost her??!! You did lose her! She’s supposed to be DEAD!” And, for the record, yes, I had seen the movie version of It previously and loved it. The only explanation I have for this is that I saw the movie before I read the book. By the time I got the opportunity to read The Stand, unabridged, mind you, I remember being on an impromptu road trip taken under duress and sporting a magnificently congestion-heavy summer cold. By the end of the first chapter I was convinced that I would be responsible for the demise of the human race. Good times.

I started reading The Dark Tower series within a year of having my mind blown by The Stand, and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, that complicated and fickle lady, Life, got in my way and threw me some curves, causing an abandonment of this great work that I have no good excuse for. Therefore, I am now jumping back on that horse I rode in on. I have successfully re-read The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three and am now just about halfway through The Waste Lands, which, of course, is what I came to report on.

This leg of the gunslinger’s journey is quickly becoming my favorite thus far. The landscape is beautiful and terrible and the story is full of enough ka to quicken my breath and keep me turning the pages. The characters, as always, are living, breathing creatures that you can very nearly touch. King’s flair for the epic is wonderful to behold. And, my fellow sentients, I can confirm that this portrayal of the human spirit and the human psyche is nothing short of spot-on.

In this volume, Roland of Gilead says to his two companions, “The quickest way to learn about a new place is to know what it dreams of.” If the gunslinger is correct, then this dream, which ultimately comes from our world via Mr. King, shows our existence as a shadowy, magical place full of the yearning for truth and the unbreakable (though admittedly elastic and oft times crudely knotted) bonds of love. Of course, I am still wandering through this dream and things in Mr. King’s dreams are always apt to change. I’ll let you know if my mid-book impressions still hold true at its conclusion.