Entertainment

The King of Long Books

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I was in a bookstore the other day, just browsing, not buying, and I noticed that Stephen King has a new book out. An incredibly long book.

Under the Dome comes in at just over 1,000 pages! And, yes, there is an unabridged audiobook version available, with a whopper of a list price at $75 and a running time of something in the neighborhood of 35 hours!

The premise of the book is certainly interesting: a small Maine town is suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by some kind of invisible force field — “the Dome.” This mysterious and inexplicable barrier leads to all sorts of mayhem until a small group of residents band together to figure out where it came from and why.

And more importantly, how to get rid of it.

I like some of King’s stories a great deal. I still haven’t found one I liked more than Bag of Bones. But there are times when King rambles entirely too much for me. I also think that some of the language he uses is unnecessarily profane. Maybe that’s truly the way everyone around him really speaks, but it just seems a bit too much for me.

Not that I’m a prude, mind you, but it’s just that there are times that it feels like he’s trying to sneak a few extra curse words in like a high school student who’s trying to see how much he can get away with.

But 1,000+ pages?

Sorry. No can do. I just can’t invest that much time, particularly given my slower reading rate that stems from a nice case of “short-attention-span-itis.” Unless a story really, really grabs me, I have to read in shorter chunks.

Anyone out there reading it? What do you think so far? I’m seeing some mixed reviews over at Amazon.com.

3 Comments

  1. I too get frustrated by the rambling writers. I’m a true believer in what’s called “the economy of words.”

    As for the issue of profanity, I think the key is that it has to be authentic. The writer’s job is to convince the reader that the character (whether through first-person narration or in dialogue) really speaks that way. In fact, this applies to any fact of a character’s voice. When it’s over the top, or when a character starts doing or saying anything that seems inauthentic, everything is lost. And that’s when it bothers me. The words themselves don’t (b/c I’m not prudish about language) but the words in context have to ring true.

  2. I haven’t read this one yet, but probably will soon. I might even make the trek to my local library this weekend and see if they’ve got it in. It sounds interesting and I’ve read almost everything he’s ever written.

    I don’t mind his long books if it’s an interesting story. My favorite King book is the unabridged version of The Stand. It was better than the original version because of the extra length that allowed him to develop his characters better and expand the plot. Lisey’s Story, another long one, is one of my least favorite King books. I wasn’t very interested and thought it would have been better if it had been half as long.

    1. I tried Lisey’s Story right after it first came out and wound up giving up about a fifth of the way through. The little nicknames and codewords were so cumbersome that they just knocked me too far from the story to the point that I just didn’t care anymore.

      I liked Needful Things a lot, so I don’t mind long books per se, as long as he gets to the point. I may give this new one a shot, but I definitely want to read some more reviews first. Let me know what you think once you get into it.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.