The Gunslinger by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The man in black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.”
Honestly, if that doesn’t go down as one of the great openings of all time, to be remembered long after we’re gone, even if the the person recognizing it doesn’t even know where it comes from, I’ll be sorely disappointed.
In fact, this reading is a re-read, but I hardly remembered anything but the opening line from the first read-through; which must have been back in the eighties.
I remember being somewhat nonplussed with it though, without being able to articulate exactly why at the time. Perhaps I can now: it is the overall, sweeping, “introduction-type” style to the text that I didn’t really grasp. It is in effect, one long setup of a much longer tale to come. And read in that function, it succeeds admirably: It sketches at the grandeur, the mystery and the size to come.
As usual I’ll not cover the plot, you can find that elsewhere.
It is somewhat crude; if you read later King you’ll realize that he has indeed learned a thing or two about story-telling a the craft of stringing words together since this was written. But regarded as an introductory piece it still works well.
(Here’s a minor issue though: I had no problem with the town of Tull. The Isaac-moment I had forgotten though. And I probably didn’t care about it when I was sixteen, but now this particular version of Abraham’s dilemma doesn’t sit very well. I look forward to see if it’s going to be explained or resolved later.)
So: this time around I love it. What a brilliant setup! The lone gunslinger chasing his destiny across a Sergio Leone inspired waste land entirely owned by Stephen King. Awesome!
Now on to book number two, the plan is to read it all in one go. Wish me luck!
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