Bound to Books

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OK bitchKinges. I finally decided that if I can’t manage to write anything, I might as well let the pros do the writing and I’ll be doing some reading of said pros.

My wonderful husband tagged me on a link to a post listing 18 new book releases this upcoming year that “Stephen King fans will love”. I just went through the entire list and read the synopsis of each one trying to see if any of them will tickle my fancy.

So other than The Outsider, by the King himself, coming May 22, I picked the following:

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
The Clarity by Keith Thomas
The Hollow Tree by James Brogdan
Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry
The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly

Now, I don’t know ANY of these authors. And anybody who knows me also knows that I have quite a bit of trouble reading books by any author other than Stephen King (or Richard Bachman, who is also Stephen King). I have trouble because King is not only my favorite, but also the only author I absolutely LOVE. Stephen King to me is more like Stephen God. Any time I try to read a book by anybody else, I always find myself comparing it to King Almighty, and seeing as the Holy Dude is second to none, my current read comes up short, I find it sucks ass, and I do not enjoy it at all as a result.

But I decided to try and get over my obsession (read: worship) and read other books by other authors. Maybe I’ll find one that I will love as much as King (or close enough is more plausible) and have a greater variety of books to read (if the five dozen King books I read is not enough).

As for the genre, I am only interested in horror/thriller/suspense/mystery novels. If my inability to fall asleep persists, I want to have a good enough reason for it, and it won’t work if the novel I read is romance or fantasy, i.e. BORING SHIT!

So the short list above looks like a good place to begin my search.

I just realised that this sounds a bit like my initial obsession with Arch Enemy and my unwillingness to listen to any other metal band… if I managed to increase my musical repertoire, it might be possible to do with books too!

Peace, love and oh my King!

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I Kill With My Heart

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The-Dark-Tower-Poster-Idris-ElbaYes. I saw the Dark Tower movie yesterday. My husband and I bought the tickets for a ridiculous 62 NIS a piece, but the 4DX experience was worth it! It almost reminded me of the rides at Universal Studios.

Anyway, I went into it knowing pretty much what to expect. I knew the movie will reflect the book only by the title. I also knew that compressing seven longass volumes into a 90-minute feature is impossible which means that the story will be completely different. I mentally prepared myself by telling myself that I am going to watch a movie, not a Stephen King adaptation. And as a result, I enjoyed the hell out of it. Even more with the sensory experience provided by the moving platforms. There were also flickering lights whenever there was an explosion, plus winds from all directions whenever there was a shooting match. I felt as if the bullets were flying right by my head.

The story differs from the book mainly due to the reduced ka-tet. Roland was joined only by the boy Jake Chambers, and not by Eddie or Odetta/Detta/Susannah. It also differs in the sense that Roland’s quest was not to reach the tower and save it, but rather to kill the man in black.

The similarities include the gunslinger’s mantra repeated several times, the famous opening line of the book, the unfound doors (known in the movie as portals), todash darkness (in the movie, eternal darkness), all hail the Crimson King, long days and pleasant nights, the wizards crystals, all possessed by the man in black, and some other more minimal things. I also liked the overlaps with other SK books – a distinct SK trademark. Jake, for example, was a Dark Tower version of Danny Torrence, with a powerful shine. Also, there was a portal with the number 1408 written on top.

I found it amusing that while the book has Eddie describing Roland as “old, tall and ugly”, the movie has the man in black referring to him as “black, tall and handsome”.

With the bullets buzzing by my ears, this virtual rollercoaster ride quite literally blew me away. Stephen King fans should definitely check it out, but keep in mind that this is NOT the Dark Tower you know and love.

Peace, love and up next, IT!

Bang to the Beat of the Gun

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Yesterday, I read the final story from a book my friend got me for my birthday – The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari. Not a book I would pick to read on my own, but my friend sent it to me and I said I’d give it a shot, and was pleasantly surprised.

Anyway, the last story of the book, titled as the book, includes a part where the character describes the difference between living in Israel and living anywhere else. She says that the quiet that saturates every other part of the world (or particularly the place where she was at the time) feels lonely and boring. In a stark contrast to the noise and the stress of daily life in Israel. She says that maybe it’s the fact that in Israel, there is the ever-present shadow of death lurking everywhere, the fact that you can die at any moment that makes this place so fast-paced and so loud.

In another story, the author also depicts life everywhere else as safe and comfortable. But that it only depends on how one perceives it, because safe and comfortable can also be described as utterly boring.

This is how I view it. When I lived in Montreal, nothing moved. Everything was quiet, everyone kept silent and to themselves, nothing moved, and I was bored and depressed and I couldn’t stand it.

Moving to Israel, I was thrilled by the excitement and the flow of events. How people appeared to be moving together and thinking together without even noticing it. How people would all stop together whenever there was a siren on Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron, and how life suddenly resumed when the siren stopped. Also how traffic and pedestrians stopped flowing into the street when there was a suspicious object in the area, and how they spilled back into the streets when the danger was removed. And how complete strangers suddenly become your only safety net when you all congregate in a safe space during a siren. How danger, fear and tragedy brings together people from different backgrounds, descents, origins, cultures, and yes, even religions.

During these times in Jerusalem, we all stare at each other to make sure the other person is of no threat. When a suspicious person walks onto a bus, again, this sense of togetherness comes through – everyone shifts together, everyone fumbles in their purse or pocket for a self-defense object (pepper spray, gun, a blunt object).

Stuff like that never happened in Montreal. In Montreal, you had to look for your community and your safety net, and even they might not want to join in your fear and may not care about your tragedy. This is the loneliness of a quiet place. The boredom in the overwhelming lack of danger.

One day in our office, we had a wave of clients waiting in the hall. A Muslim family walked in, facial expressions changed at once, the wave shifted back, the two people who owned a gun reached for it, all at the same time, everyone on high alert in a heartbeat. It was like some kind of morbid dance. But it’s through this dance and this atmosphere where I felt most at home. It was like I found my entire extended family, my true safety net, the only people I can trust no matter how sketchy and disappointing some of these people can be in other areas of life. In this one thing – danger – we all stand together, move, think and speak together. Because you can die at any moment, and you must dance with the crowd in order to survive.

I also wrote about this in my upcoming zine. I said that safe and comfortable are not adjectives that are usually used in the same sentence as Israel. But that is where I feel safe and comfortable. I know the dance, I learned the steps, I know what to expect and what’s expected of me.

I love this place. I love the noise, the stress, the danger, the fear, the excitement, the love and the hate. It’s the mindset you learn to accept – taking the bitter with the sweet, the life with the death – and appreciate every moment.

Peace, love and war and hate.

Real vs. Read

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Once again, I am in that mode or frame of mind or whatever you wanna call it.

That frame of mind where I’m so conflicted, I feel torn in half.

It’s not as bad as it sounds since the conflict itself is not earth-shattering or life-threatening in any way. But still, I’m like, wahhhh!

On one hand, I got a bunch of kickass ideas and plans for creativity – flyers, zines, patches, even a DIY business card. And on the other hand, I have this huge Stephen King book (11.22.63 in case you’re wondering) staring me in the face and I’m dying to go on reading it.

It’s just so easy to let go of this thin creative thread and just fall into the mind-numbing make-belief world of Stephen King, and letting yourself drown and feel yourself sinking deeper and deeper until reality ceases to exist. This reality which sucks dick anyway. This reality which saw it appropriate to steal the life of an innocent 16-year-old girl whose only crime was to love and support a community which deserves to live in a safe, tolerant and democratic society and enjoy equal rights.

Who the fuck wants to stay alert and conscious when the world around them goes shithouse? And where in this morbid reality can you find the right amount of inspiration to create anything at all?

Reading is so much easier. You don’t need to move much to do it, except for turning a page every once in a while. You don’t need to think, because the book does all the thinking for you. You don’t need to talk to anybody or entertain anybody or take care of anything. You don’t need to be creative and find the right words and put them in a perfect order because you have it all perfectly done right in front of you, black on white.

But then, the book is over. And you come out of it only to drop like a brick right back into the shitpile that is this reality. And you come out of it to realize you haven’t made anything of yourself. And you come out of it to notice your back is aching, your eyes are bloodshot, and your husband fell asleep while he was waiting for you to give him his birthday treat, but you were too fucking busy cheating on him with Stephen King.

So which way do I go? Do I pick up my lazy ass and create some sweet shiny sparkly sunshiny art? Or do I give in to the torturous temptation of literature and disappear into the twisted dark worlds of the King?

I guess I’ll have to figure out after my husband’s birthday dinner.

Peace, love and happy birthday to my loverboy!

Horrorland

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Making a split zine was great. It actually went faster than I expected. All I have left to do is complete the cover, scribble a short table of contents and add credits. Pictures will be posted here once it’s all done and printed.

For now, I can’t deny the Stephen King DT’s that are creeping up on me since I finished the second reading of Under the Dome. My withdrawal symptoms include short breaths, fidgeting hands, lack of concentration, lack of interest in anything else, fantasies about my next fix, all these things that amount up to a pounding headache due to unbelievable boredom, which eventually leads to a fucking useless blog post like the one you’re reading.

Since the Under the Dome TV series credit Stephen King as nothing more than a formality, I decided to start a second reading of Bag of Bones to treat these symptoms, at least to some degree, until I get a fresh stash of books. It’s like the difference between scraping cloned indica off a leftover roach, and scoring 2.5 gs of sticky White Widow in Amsterdam. It can hold me for a limited time, but soon enough, I’ll have to get some fresh King books that I never read before. I need this detachment from reality.

So until I do, I’ll keep on fantasizing about my next dose and compile a list of my coveted drug:

Different Seasons
– Dolores Clairborne
– Gerald’s Game
– Hearts in Atlantis
– Pet Sematary
– The Tommyknockers
– Needful Things
– The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon
– Everything’s Eventual
– Joyland
– Doctor Sleep
– Wind Through the Keyhole

Peace. love and in the sun I feel as one, in the zone I feel alone.

The Dark Tower – A Master’s Masterpiece

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Spoiler alert! The following post is a review of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. If you plan on embarking on that series’ incredible journey (by the way, I strongly recommend you read Stephen King’s Insomnia, The Stand and Salem’s Lot before you start The Dark Tower), or if you have already started and not yet finished, I urge you to not read this post due to its many spoilers. If, however, you’ve already been to the Dark Tower, and loved every minute of it, this post is for you.

dark towerIn case you haven’t figured it out by now, I love Stephen King to the point of delirium. I’ve read about two dozen of his books before actually deciding to read The Dark Tower. The main reason was because I didn’t have enough money for the seven-volume long series. I got the first volume, The Gunslinger, back in November, and ordered the rest of the volumes which I received in an annoying order – volumes 3 and 4 in December, and the rest around February.

So for the past few months, I did nothing but reading, eating chips while reading, sitting with my family while reading, celebrating holidays while reading, and spending more time with Stephen King than I do with my boyfriend and wondering if the latter is starting to get jealous.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the Dark Tower series is a work of monumental proportions. All Stephen King fans must read it. From one fan to all others, that’s not a suggestion. It’s an order. YOU MUST READ IT! You don’t know Stephen King until you’ve read The Dark Tower.

What amazes me most about his writing is its versatility. Whenever I found a free moment in the office, I would take out my book and read. The clients who saw me with a different Stephen King book every two or three weeks said “You really love horror, eh?” The truth is Stephen King is not just horror. It’s not just vampires and ghosts and zombies and gore. In fact, he’s got elements of fantasy, drama, romance, comedy, socio-political commentary and other elements which make his works into literary rollercoaster rides. The Dark Tower is no different. One of the clients was surprised when I said that The Dark Tower is actually somewhat of a Western novel. Sure, it’s got its share of vampires, oversized bugs, and gore, but it incorporates a wide range of other  genres which is Stephen King’s unmistakable style and unique talent.

The first volume, The Gunslinger, introduces the hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the last gunslinger in a world that “moved on.” It disappointed me that the book was no longer than 300 pages, especially since it would be another four months before I scored the second volume. It was 300 pages worth of half stories and unrelated anecdotes that did nothing but raise a ton of questions. What is the world that moved on? What is the Dark Tower and why is Roland after it? Why is Roland the last gunslinger? What happened to all the others? Who is the Man in Black? Why did King introduced the boy Jake into the story if only to kill him in the end of the first volume? I was basically confused the whole way through, and made no sense of anything and ended up being even more confused by the end of the first book. I needed the rest of the books and fast. That’s another talent of Stephen King. He’ll keep frustrated in order to keep you reading.

The second volume, The Drawing of the Three, starts with Roland waking up on the shore of the sea where horrible sea creatures (he calls lobstrosities) have eaten two of his fingers. This injury would later result in an infection. The volume introduces two other characters who will join Roland on his quest to the Dark Tower. Eddie Dean is a heroin addict from New York in 1987. And Odetta Holmes is a schizophrenic disabled African-American woman from New York of 1964. Through “magic doors” Roland manages to draw these two into his world. He also manages to make Odetta and her other personality, the vicious, foul-mouthed Detta Walker, face each other and merge into a single person, and finally become Suzannah.

This volume raises even more questions but makes Roland’s world a bit easier to understand. When he looks through these magic doors, he sees a parallel world, different from his own, with objects he doesn’t recognize such as planes and cars (air carriages and horse-less carts). He is amazed at how people in New York discard paper like it was garbage, since in Roland’s world, paper has become a rarity. When he uses the magic door to go into a pharmacy to get antibiotics for the infection he suffered following his injury on the beach, he makes a genius observation, which we as a society fail to realize:

“There were thousands of bottles, there were potions, there were philters, but…identified most as quack remedies. Here was a salve that was supposed to restore fallen hair but would not; there was a cream which promised to erase unsightly spots on the hands and arms but lied. Here were cures for things that needed no curing: things to make your bowels run or stop them, to make your teeth white and your hair black… The potions that really worked were kept safely out of sight. One could only obtain these if you had a sorcerer’s fiat. In this world, such sorcerers were called DOCKTORS.”

In the third volume, The Waste Lands, Eddie and Suzannah are married and are trained to be gunslingers. They find the beam of Shardik which they must follow in order to find the Dark Tower. King also answers the question of the boy Jake who died in the first volume. Jake was originally from New York of 1977. He died in this world after being pushed into the streets and being hit by a car. He found himself in Roland’s world after his death, then dies again in Roland’s world. But in the second volume, Roland manages to save Jake of 1977 when the gunslinger goes through a magic door and prevents the pusher from pushing Jake into the street. This creates a duality within Roland (Jake is dead, no he’s not) as well as Jake (I’m dead, no I’m not) which drives both to the point of insanity, until the three gunslingers draw Jake back into Roland’s world.

The fourth volume, Wizard and Glass, is the one that answers most of the questions that have been bugging me ever since the first book. Roland tells his tale from the beginning, including his life in Mejis, the story of Suzan, his first love, the Coffin Hunters, John Farson (who turns out to be the Man in Black as well as a bunch of other characters even from King’s other novels), the witch of the Coos and the wizard’s pink glass ball. I was completely blown away by how easily Stephen King manages to tie the story of his novel The Stand into this tale. The fact that Roland’s world seems to be so deserted was another thing that confused me, but if this world was somehow affected by the plague that spread through the world in The Stand, and the Man in Black was also the Walking Man, Randall Flagg from The Stand, it’s definitely starting to make sense.

In the fifth volume, Wolves of the Calla, the ka-tet arrives to a village that gets attacked by creatures called Wolves every two decades or so. King introduces another character from another book of his, Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot. Again, I was blown away by this overlap, and was even more amazed when the characters come across the actual book Salem’s Lot by some dude called STEPHEN KING!

“No way!” I exclaimed. “He did NOT just made himself a character in his own book!” But indeed he did. Stephen King becomes a key player in protecting the Dark Tower, and Roland and Eddie actually come face to face with him and urge him to finish writing The Dark Tower series and save the world.

But before that, we find out about the wizard’s 12 glass balls corresponding to the 12 points of the six beams holding the Tower (the pink one being one of them) and the 13th glass ball, the most dangerous one, corresponding to the Tower – Black Thirteen. When Father Callahan tells Roland he has one of these glasses hidden in his church, I was sure he was talking about the blue one, or the green one, or any of the other 12. When Roland asks him which one it is, and Callahan answers “It’s Black Thirteen,” I screamed. I actually screamed. Out of fear. I was in the office when I read that part and I was so startled, I thought the clients might think I saw a roach or something.

In any case, by the sixth volume, Song of Suzannah, I was well out of it. Reality became a blur, and the fact that Stephen King was a character in his own book and incorporated his actual real life experiences into it (wife, kids, books, not to mentioned the accident that nearly killed him and does kill him by the end of the sixth volume), made my sense of reality even more surreal. Or unreal for that matter. Even my mom picked up on it.

“Get back to real time,” she snapped.

“What IS real time?” I said. The sense of time in the series itself was also distorted. All the characters felt it. And I did as well. It was freaky.

The sixth volume was also the first book I ever read which made me cry. Back in high school, I read countless books about the Holocaust, including Elie Wiesel’s, and no matter how sad and horrible they were, they never made me shed a tear. So for the first time ever in life that I cry while reading a book, it was Stephen King’s doing. It was the part where Jake has to pass through the unfound door to New York of 1999 and has to leave his pet billy bumbler, Oy, behind with the people of the Calla. When Jake says goodbye to Oy, and Oy starts barking “No! Ake!” that was when the waterworks broke. I put the book down, wiped my tears and hugged my dog Diamond. Then I shook my head and thought, Only King.

The book ends with excerpts from Stephen King’s journals – real or made up, I don’t know. The final “entry” being a fictional article about Stephen King’s death.

“He KILLS himself?” I shrieked. “What?!” I finished the book right as my boyfriend came home from basketball practice. “Stephen King is crazy,” I told him. “PSYCHOTIC!”

In fact, I was the one going crazy because if reading a fictional book by Stephen King, and then encountering the actual author as one of the characters wasn’t enough to fuck me up, the actual author killing his character self did it. I felt my brain splitting, and moved on to the seventh volume.

In the seventh and final volume, The Dark Tower, the ka-tet breaks when Eddie is killed in the battle of Algul Siento. And for the second time, King made me cry. It was a very moving moment when Eddie calls Roland “father” on his dying breath.

I knew one of them would die. It was hinted earlier on. At first I thought it might be Oy, but then I thought that would be slightly trivial. Then I thought it might be Suzannah, but then I thought that she and Eddie should stay together so neither of them would die (wrong). I thought maybe Roland, but only for a second because the Dark Tower is Roland’s quest. Without him, the story would never end (as it turns out, the story never did end). I thought maybe he would die at the very end, but not now. Not until he made it to the Tower. Then I thought Jake might die, but I thought King could not possibly kill him again… and I was wrong again…

Roland and Jake set back to America of 1999 to save Stephen King’s life (apparently, the fictitious article announcing Stephen King’s death at the end of the sixth volume hadn’t yet happened). That night, I found myself thrashing around with anticipation. When I finally fell asleep, I dreamt about being with Roland and Jake, looking for Stephen King and trying to save his life, and failing.

But in the book, King was saved, and lived to finish his tale. Jake died while saving him though. I didn’t cry this time, but felt utterly depressed for the rest of the day. King’s character development is one of his most refined talents, and you get to know the characters as if you’ve known them all your life. The death of a major character like Eddie or Jake, as fictitious as it might be, is one you mourn. Like it or not.

Throughout the series, we find out that the world moved on after it was destroyed by the Old People who created a bunch of machines and robots and gadgets, and who believed that these mechanical creations were more powerful and more sophisticated than any magic the world had to offer. It makes a blunt statement on the state of the world today. I don’t know if that was Stephen King’s intention, but at least that’s how I interpret it. People are so entranced by technology and engage in a frantic and quite pointless race for the better, the faster, the smaller, that they forget there are things way more fascinating out there. They’re all constantly swiping and tapping their fingers on their iPod or their smartphones to notice there is a world around them. They use their Kindles to read everything from novels to prayer books. Technology is getting out of control and people are going crazy trying to keep up with it. Things are becoming too concrete, too mechanical, too tactile, and the magic is lost. Depth, emotional value, divine interaction, spiritual contact between people, all of that is lost, and the universe that depends on this magic for stability and balance is falling apart.

One thing I didn’t like about the series is how sometimes he throws in spoilers for his other books. I’ve yet to read Cujo and Insomnia, but thanks to the seventh volume, I now have some spoilers under my belt. Not cool.

Later on in the seventh and final volume, Oy dies too. Suzannah goes back to America-side and meets Jake and Eddie there too, which leaves Roland alone on the rest of his quest, except for a boy called Patrick who was never part of the gunslinger’s ka-tet.

Just before Roland makes it to the Tower, I suddenly stopped. Suddenly, I didn’t want the book to end. As King says, “Endings are heartless. Ending is just another word for goodbye.” It took Stephen King 34 years to complete the series and took me about six months to read it (would have been less if I had gotten the books in a normal order). And King’s brilliant storytelling was (and is) so compelling that while I was reading, I was also living and breathing the tale. I was part of Roland’s ka-tet. I chased the Man in Black with him through the scorching sun of the desert. I was with Roland when he drew Eddie, Suzannah and Jake. I joined all his battles and mourned all his losses. I also climbed the Tower with Roland only to discover what should have been so obvious, despite the conclusion’s ultimate shock – “Ka is a wheel”, “There will be renewal”, “Death, but not for you, Gunslinger.” As it appears, not ever. If ka is a wheel, Roland will be forever searching for the Dark Tower, will reach it, climb to the top, and start all over again. Rolling along on ka’s wheel. There will be no ending. Say thankya.

And now that I have finished the series, I must struggle to snap back to reality, whatever it may be, and readjust to this world. As much as I (or rather Stephen King) have managed to convince myself that this is but one world of many. Endless worlds with the Dark Tower on the axis, spinning on ka’s eternal wheel.

Once I manage to fix my head again, I may actually go on to read Wind Through the Keyhole, which is another Dark Tower novel, but not part of the series. But not now.

Now, I am still marveling at how amazing Stephen King is. Each one of his books is brilliant in its own way. But the Dark Tower series outshines them all. Almost makes them seem like todash darkness by comparison. A master’s masterpiece, so it is.

Peace, love and long days and pleasant nights.

There Are Other Worlds than These

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I’ve been neglecting my blog.

No, that’s not right. I’ve been neglecting EVERYTHING. And it’s all Stephen King’s fault. I can’t bring myself to think about anything else but the Dark Tower. Hell, I’ve been dreaming about it too.

You’d be amazed how many times I would think “Hmmm, why don’t I make a zine today?” And then go back home and fall into King’s torturous web of irresistible literature once more. Every time I read another chapter I think he just can’t get any better, and then he does.

I’m thinking the pull I’m feeling whenever I have an unread Stephen King book in my possession, it’s like Black Thirteen. You know it’s dangerous, but you just have to open it, sink your eyes into it and never come out.

Once I’m done reading Dark Tower, I’ll write another blog detailing just how awesome I think it is, although it’s way WAYYY beyond awesome. It passed awesome at least a thousand wheels back.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Black Thirteen is calling me again.

Peace, love and Stephen is my Crimson King