Monday, March 23, 2009
Re-reading The Dark Tower
On my way out the door to SXSW, I walked past the bookshelf in our bedroom and took The Dark Tower off the shelf. I originally read the entire Dark Tower series in 2005, effectively back-to-back-to-back, and adored them. I can't really recall a Stephen King book I haven't enjoyed, but a few stand out: my favorite is The Stand (which I've read 4 or 5 times), and a few others that I recall rather vividly are The Mist (a short story in The Skeleton Crew), It, and The Shining.
But as I'm 2/3 of the way through The Dark Tower, I'm coming to the realization that as good as The Stand is (and if you haven't read it, you really must), The Dark Tower is in a league of its own. In just a few hundred pages, King establishes a more epic landscape, with characters who are more intriguing, with a story arc that is breathtaking, than any other author I've ever read.
For those that don't know the story of the Dark Tower, it's part Western, part science fiction, part fantasy, and just a little bit of horror thrown in for good measure (but not much). Most interestingly, countless other King works are referenced throughout: characters, places, and themes from other stories pop up in the most unexpected places. If you're a King fan, this is the series that makes his entire body of work fit together - not always how you'd expect it to, either.
I told a friend at SXSW I was re-reading the Dark Tower series (it's a total of 7 books, written by King over three decades), he marveled that I'd do so, particularly knowing how it ends. If you've read it, you might be able to appreciate why I think it's kind of poetic to be reading it again (I'll leave it at that, don't want to give anything away to the uninitiated).
Bottom line: if you love well-written, character driven stories that completely transport you to another place and another time, the Dark Tower series will not let you down.