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Under the Dome

November 22, 2011

It could be that the circumstances of the past few weeks would have made it difficult for me to like whatever I was listening to on audio. Ron tried to warn me, when I came back from the library with Stephen King’s Under the Dome. He said he didn’t want to listen to King and I said oh, but we liked The Stand and this one has been compared to it. He insisted that he didn’t believe it, that it would probably be yucky and scary. And it was.

There were a lot of yucky descriptions of shit and vomit and blood, in addition to severed body parts and necrophilia. And there was a scary guy with a brain tumor who was running around with a free pass to kill anyone. Who would be next? There was no way to tell.

There was a dome, which came down so suddenly an airplane ran into it and a woman and wild animal had body parts severed by it. The dome itself could have been interesting, and a little of the description of its alien operators actually was; King wiggles out of the tight corner many writers find themselves in when they try to describe aliens without comparing them to some form of life as we understand it—he makes them different and inexplicable. But in the end, we don’t learn much about who made the dome or how it works. This is a story about a town full of sorry little humans with sorry little lives. I didn’t like any of them, and didn’t feel much sympathy for their plight.

I never like the way reading Stephen King makes me feel, as if humans are nasty, brutish little creatures and it might be just as well if one little town after another were put under a dome and blown up, as happens in this excruciatingly long book.

The only good thing I can say about it is that it kept me feeling brutish and nasty for mile after mile of driving during a difficult week of my life when it was better to feel that way than weak and sniveling. So it served a purpose.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 7:13 am

    The best defense is a good offense?

    Yeah I stopped reading King after Cujo (I think–the one with the killer dog?) when he had the cheating wife/mother get punished with as I recall the death of her child. Thanks, I’m fine without the morality play.

    • November 23, 2011 8:24 am

      Yes, Cujo was the killer dog. I think I read most of what he wrote up until around the time of Pet Sematary. Then it did start to seem like everyone was doing something wrong and had to be punished, and the scatalogical references were really starting to pile up. People are shit, and then you die.

  2. November 22, 2011 7:39 am

    I read my first King recently (‘Salem’s Lot), and while I liked it well enough I know just what you mean about him revelling in the darkest side of human nature and leaving limited room for anything else. I still hope to read The Stand at some point, as well as the Dark Tower series, but I’m not so sure about this one.

    • November 23, 2011 8:25 am

      I do remember liking The Stand, but I was a teenager when I read it. At this point, I don’t think I’m going to try the Dark Tower series.

  3. November 22, 2011 8:18 am

    I’ve never been able to handle King but The Stand. I can’t take his unrelenting negativity. But I can see how it could be useful on occasion.

    • November 23, 2011 8:27 am

      It’s especially useful for a woman traveling alone. Usually, I smile a bit too much.

  4. freshhell permalink
    November 22, 2011 8:50 am

    I’m really surprised you’d ever read King. I’ve read almost everything he’s ever written. When he’s good, he’s very good. When he’s so-so, I grow weary. I am not a fan of the books in which the protagonist is a writer with writer’s block or other problems. That just tells me his life has grown too insular to be interesting. Like books about university faculty drama. Snore. But, I do like his writing, I do like his stories when he’s on the top of his game. I like the worlds he create and I think he writes about our fears. Our fear of aliens, clowns, crazy people, how vulnerable we are, etc.

    • November 23, 2011 8:33 am

      You’re right to be surprised, but as my conversation with Ron should indicate, it’s more of a curmudgeonly thing that I don’t read anything I think might be scary now. I sampled enough when I was younger. I do think King is a good writer; it’s his subject matter that gets wearying for me.

  5. November 22, 2011 2:52 pm

    My first King was “The Shining.” They say there’s no King like your first King, and that certainly was true for me. Nothing I read after that interested — or scared — me as much. First, I had to keep that book in a separate room from where I was sleeping. Then I had to have it on a different floor of the house from where my bedroom was. The last couple of nights I locked it in my parents’ car in the driveway.

    I found “The Stand” unendingly tedious. It occurred to me many times that maybe that was his commentary on what will finally undo civilization — the inability to be interesting. Then I just decided I didn’t care what he thought. I haven’t read anything by King since then, but I could be persuaded by brilliant, funny, imaginary friends. I’m with whoever said this about King: “The worst thing that happened to him was the invention of the word processor.”

    • November 23, 2011 8:35 am

      Yeah, he does seem like he could use an editor. I was impressed back in the 80s when it came out about one of his pseudonyms and that he wrote so much even his publisher thought it was too much.

  6. November 22, 2011 2:57 pm

    I’ve been thinking about reading The Stand for a long time now, but I’m worried about exactly what you said. All the short stories of his I’ve read have just mad eme feel bad. I’m worried The Stand will be 100 times worse because it’s so long. Is it worth it?

    • November 23, 2011 8:47 am

      I remember it as less pessimistic about human nature than the other things he’s written. But I was a teenager, and it was one of my first tastes of dystopian fiction.

  7. November 25, 2011 8:54 pm

    Sorry it didn’t work for you. I “enjoyed” it as much as you can enjoy books like this.

    • November 30, 2011 7:55 am

      Part of my disappointment was that I wanted to find out more about the aliens and their device. How boring to have to stay on earth and go over and over the little girl who was bullied in the gazebo.

  8. November 29, 2011 6:46 pm

    I don’t like Stephen King, either. I hear he’s good, but I don’t like to be scared. Nope, I do not.

    • November 30, 2011 7:56 am

      I’m with you on not liking to be scared. This wasn’t as scary as some of his earlier ones.

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