“Under the Dome” – Stephen King’s Best Yet?

November 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

It was my natural inclination to call this section of my blog “On Writing.”  When it dawned on me a week or so after setting up the category that I’d used the same title as Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, I knew I needed to modify the title (my title that is).  You see, I had read Mr. King’s On Writing this past summer and was profoundly impressed and humbled.  As a writer I found it a fantastic read, full of wisdom, insight, and just plain interesting life stories.  I underlined, I dog-eared, I re-read.

Coincidentally, while I was delving into Mr. King’s real, writing life in late July and early August, my brother was spending his time engrossed in the invented world of The Stand. A novel of roughly 1,000 pages, it has long been considered a favorite of readers and critics alike.  My brother, it turned out, was no exception.

In contrast, and quite frankly afraid, I had not picked up Stephen King’ s fiction since my teens.  Then it was his short story collection Night Shift.  After that book, I never looked at my closet or the space under my bed the same way again.  Truly.  (I didn’t read The Shining, but I saw the movie and am still, on occasion, haunted by the words “red room.”)

This week Stephen King’s latest, Under the Dome, arrived in bookstores.  At 1,100 pages, it’s a doorstop to be sure (I needed two hands to lift it from the bookshelf).  But according to the reviews, it’s up there as his best work yet.  In Janet Maslin’s review for The New York Times, she says:

Under the Dome gravely threatens Stephen King’s status as a mere chart-busting pop cultural phenomenon. It has the scope and flavor of literary Americana, even if Mr. King’s particular patch of American turf is located smack in the middle of the Twilight Zone. … On a beautiful autumn day in Maine a transparent dome materializes over the town of Chester’s Mill. Once the Dome falls, all vestiges of normal life are suspended. Things run amok. They get scary. … The premise provides so many options that Mr. King’s decisions about how to tell this story are of special interest.”

Now, I think I’m curious.  I think I want to know the direction in which he chooses to move and how he chooses to tell this particular story.  I think that, after too many years to divulge here, I might just be ready to jump back into Stephen King-land, boogeymen and all.

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