I’ve returned to Stephen King books again after taking a short break reading The House With a Clock in Its Walls. You can read my thoughts on that here.
I won’t lie. It took me a bit to chew through The Gunslinger. Granted, I read it slowly for about 10-20 minutes a day, but the story here is weird. King has crafted something brilliant drawing on multiple themes. But the result is a narrative that I sometimes re-read three times and still don’t know what happened. I don’t blame him for this. Maybe it’s just a comprehension problem on my end, a disconnect between the words and my brain. Who knows?
But I did enjoy The Gunslinger. It’s full of original ideas and characters that deserve to be read. Though I do have my suspicions that if anyone else other than King had wrote this series, it wouldn’t be as popular as it is today.
I started reading The Gunslinger because, why else? They were making a “Dark Tower” movie. And what do I like to read? Books that become movies. But the reviews came in for the movie, and they were flat out terrible, so I didn’t go see it. Maybe that’s why I was so slow to finish the book, too. Without the movie driving me to finish it, I guess I just completed it because it was interesting enough.
The story follows a Gunslinger (the last one) named Roland as he chases the Man in Black through the desert. Along the way, you get the idea the setting is Earth-ish but in the distant future after everything has “moved on” leaving some kind of apocalyptic wasteland behind. We don’t really get the cause for this in the first book. Maybe I will later. There are eight books in this series after all, and I’m just now on book two.
One memory I have associated with this book series comes from two of my high school friends Morgan and Travis. I remember them reading The Gunslinger in high school and fawning over it. They loved the sci-fi western-ish series. Maybe it reminded them of the “Trigun” anime/manga, who knows? But they loved the first book. And I honestly don’t know why I didn’t read it. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t a huge reader back in high school (or even college for that matter). When my friends started our Lord of the Rings craze because the first movie was coming out, we all read through that trilogy and The Hobbit (and unfortunately The Silmarillion). I believe every nerd group goes through a LOTR phase. It’s a rite of passage, discovering Tolkien. Anyway, I was happy to read through those, but then again, it was a race to finish them because the movies were coming out. Maybe that’s why I didn’t read The Gunslinger with Morgan and Travis. There wasn’t a movie back then.
Anyway, back to Morgan and Travis. I distinctly remember them loving the first book and starting the second. But they were discouraged pretty quick because Roland gets two fingers and a toe chopped off at the beginning by some lobster monster. Maybe Peter knows more about it?
That combined with the fact this book didn’t seem to have the same western action and well. . . gunslinging the first book had, turned them off pretty quick. I remember them complaining about it, and they eventually put it down. I don’t think they ever continued it.
But I intend to, I guess. perhaps I’m a little lukewarm about this series. If King hadn’t written them, I doubt I’d be reading them. I have come to love King’s work in the last several months after reading his memoir On Writing. I won’t read any of his scary books because I’m a wimp, but he’s got plenty of other stuff I’ll happily read like The Dead Zone and The Mist. But The Shining or It? Count me out.
Anyway, I’ll post more thoughts when I finish the book. I doubt I’ll move on to The Waste Lands right after I finish unless this book is just so amazing I have to keep going. We’ll see. King might turn my lukewarm feelings for this series into something more.