Monday, January 28, 2008

Book Review - The Talisman

As Sly B mentioned, I just finished The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. It now ranks as my favorite King book -- I haven't read them all, but I have read at least 20.

I loved The Talisman. It's a big book, 768 pages, arranged in the usual King manner by book, then by chapter, then by sections within each chapter. I enjoy books like this with more breaks more than books with giant chapters. It was first published in 1984, when I was in around 7th grade. I read a tattered paperback copy that I picked up at my favorite used bookstore for $2.50. This copy has another read in it, probably, before some serious tape needs to be administered.

The story follows our hero, twelve year old Jack Sawyer, on a fantastic four month quest from New England to Northern California in this dimension and another called The Territories. Jack is after a talisman with the promise of curing his mother's cancer and saving her life. It turns out that his mother's "twinner" is the queen of The Territories, and also dying/depending on him. Along the way, Jack hitches rides and walks. He also flips between this reality, which he calls The American Territories, and the other. He spends a part of his journey with Wolf, a friend from The Territories, and another part with Richard, his best friend in this world. It's a very Lord of the Rings type story with lots of exciting characters and action along the way. I would recommend this book to anyone.

All of that said, I always wish that King wasn't such a homophobe when I finish one of his books. In what otherwise was a truly enjoyable read, you can find passages like this: ". . . the voice emerging from that huge barrel chest was absurdly flutelike -- it was the voice of a willowy gay giving a shoe-clerk a piece of his mind" (112); and worse, this one, confusing a predatory pedophile with a gay man: "When Ferguson put his hand on Jack's thigh, Jack had responded automatically out of a California sensibility in which gays had been merely part of the scenery: 'No thanks, mister. I'm strictly A.C.'" (262). The entire Ferguson passage was really too much -- comparing Eastern gays to Western gays, admitting that Jack (remember, 12 years old) was a good looking kid and used to unwanted advances from gay men, and worse. Setting this stuff aside, which sadly I am very accustomed to doing, makes the book much more enjoyable.

My rating (lowered by 2 nipples because of the homophobia): 3 out of 5 nipples.

No comments: