Monday, 25 November 2013

(Sort of, but not really) Four Past Midnight

Whenever I sit down to review a book I do it in the company of my cat, Eric, who usually plonks himself firmly on the keyboard in front of me or, more usually, evicts me from the chair entirely so that I’m left attempting to type while kneeling in front of the desk as he stretches out on the chair.

Stephen King has his Constant Reader, and for nearly twelve years now this little dude has been my Constant Companion:

I spend most of the time I’m not working at home, and rather a lot of that time reading. As with everything else, Eric reads with me - by which I mean tries to sit on my book/kindle, before curling up in my lap and letting me cuddle him whenever I’m reading something sad or scary, huffing long-suffering sighs whenever I feel the need to yell at a book (which is surprisingly often) and giving me reminding pats whenever I’ve become so engrossed in something that I’ve forgotten that I’m supposed to be tickling his chin.

As usual, Eric read most of this book with me. Actually four novellas – The Langoliers, Secret Window, Secret Garden, The Library Policeman and The Sun Dog – I think Eric would agree that this book is a solid 3. Each novella has a great premise although some worked more than others in their execution, and I found that King’s endings struggled a little to live up to what had preceded them.

In The Langoliers, a handful of sleeping passengers awake mid-flight to find everyone else (including the pilots) have disappeared, leaving no trace but their bags and wallets, fillings and pacemakers behind (although not their clothes, something which would bug me for the rest of the novella, for some reason). Luckily for them, they happen to have another pilot on board as well as a blind girl with a sixth sense and a mystery writer who constantly explains what’s happening to everybody.

In Secret Window, Secret Garden another writer with a serious sleep habit is visited by a stranger accusing him of plagiarism. Unfortunately this one was marred somewhat by my realising early on that our protagonist was suffering from a case of the Tyler Durden’s, making the twist ending not so twisty.

The Library Policeman starts well as Sam Peebles borrows some books from the library, only to find out what happens when you forget to return your books on time or – worse still – lose them. This one was going brilliantly until Sam had a chat Dirty Dave who then took a giant information dump over the next few chapters, having clearly never heard of the ‘show, don’t tell’ rule.

The last novella, The Sun Dog, sees Kevin Delevan given a Polaroid camera for his 15th birthday. Except every photo the camera takes is of a mean-looking dog, getting slightly closer with each click. This one was easily the most effective for me, which was probably helped by it being a welcome return to Castle Rock.

Immediately after finishing this book we went looking for Eric - it was nearly his tea-time and, unusually, he wasn’t already hanging around waiting for it. We found him in one of his favourite spots - curled up on a pile of his dad's jumpers. He’d sloped off for a kip, but this time there would be no head bumps and slow stretches before demanding his tea. While I’d been reading of the Sun Dog’s entry into Kevin Delevan’s world, our little monkeyface had left ours.

I’ve tried to review this book properly for the past couple of days, if only to distract me, but it’s proven impossible to do anything without thinking of him so instead you’re left with this, and I’m left to miss my little ginger prince.

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