Saturday, December 24, 2005

BOOK REVIEW: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King


Hadn't I heard/read that Stephen King was done with writing?

Honestly, you'd think by now that these famous folks'd start throwing in the caveat "but you never know" whenever they pronounce that they are done, finished, finito, never to write/sing/act again.

Well, like the Chers and Celines of the world, he probably realized he was bored off of his rocker, or missed the attention, or perhaps just wanted some more dough so that he can finally build that paper mache outhouse (made entirely out of 100 dollar bills, of course) he has always wanted.

Stephen King is one of those writers I'm always a little hesitant to admit I like. Why? Because it's like admitting you like to listen to Kelly Clarkson. Sure, lots of people like her music, can't help but nod a little and maybe even sing along now and then, but doesn't liking something so common make you feel just a little, well, common? On the same hand, everybody loves Johnny Depp and that's apparently okay. Hmm, gonna have to think about this one a little. Perhaps we all like to think of ourselves as intelligent people, and feel more comfortable liking someone/something with an air of intelligence, or at least a little mystique. (Because we think it reflects positively on ourselves.) That was the long way of saying: Think PBS versus CBS.

Well, I'm too old for that shit. You know what? Even 10 years olds ought to be too old for that shit. If you like something, then like it. It's okay, so long as we just don't forget about all the other good stuff that's out there to be experienced.

So, this book, The Colorado Kid. Check it out on Amazon.com and you'll see it's got a pretty shitty rating. Yup, 3 stars out of 5 is shitty indeed. Why's it got such a low rating? I think I have an idea why...

This book is not like most other King novels. (And I'll save the "he's not just a horror writer" rant for another time.) It's also not a traditional mystery. It's presented as an older (think pulp) crime fiction, with the sultry woman on the cover and everything. What it is however, is a mystery. The real kind that doesn't follow all the formulas and feed you every little detail as if you don't have a mind of your own. Also, it's quite short. Technically it might be a novella. Readers of Stephen King are more used to longer works and might not have appreciated the change.

If you are the type of person that needs everything neat and tidy, with a heavy dose of closure, then don't bother reading it. You'll just end up whining about it to someone else who doesn't give a rat's ass. Go read an Agatha Christie instead, if you want a traditional mystery, with a confrontation and a reveal and all that jazz.

It reads somewhat like one of his short stories. I'm actually glad that this one was short. Usually I like books to last a while when I am enjoying them. In this case I think I would have been too frustrated with the lack of complete closure if I had invested more time in it. The way it is, I was able to appreciate the point, without feeling like I'd been taken for a ride.

As always, it was nice to settle into the book like any of King's work- like slipping on a comfy old pair of jeans. That familiar sense of being in the hands of someone you trust is there... the way he uses words and presents characters is always comfortable, but never boring. One of the reasons I kept reading his books over the years is the way he writes- it's very digestible, but doesn't make you feel like an idiot. You don't get a feeling that he is trying to woo you with the fancy way he weaves words together, because he doesn't write to prove he's got a big vocabulary. He writes as if he is trying to tell you a story, and presents it in such a way that you just get it.

I was entertained, and that's plenty good enough for me.
4 outta 5 stars. Make that 4 and a quarter.

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