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Gurglings of a Putrid Stream

Thoughts on books and other assorted topics.

See also:  http://goppf.wikidot.com/swstart

My name:  Brian Martin

Rage by Stephen King

The Bachman Books: Four Early Novels by Stephen King - Richard Bachman, Stephen King

Rage is a slimy little book that comes to us from the bottom of some dank pond in fairyland. It's about a maladjusted high school kid who takes his Algebra class hostage in order to give his classmates a crash course in puerile psychology. Written by a future best-selling novelist, the kids all talk not like high school seniors but like future Stephen Kings. If this is an honest book, as King claims, it's a little scary how divorced from reality the man was even before he'd gone whole hog on drugs. Honest or not, the book is so light on truth that it practically floats. It belongs in the sewers with Pennywise.

Which, more or less, is evidently where it is these days. King and his publishers allowed it go out of print after several disturbed kids attempted to recreate the plot in real life. And why wouldn't they? It's little more than one of those daytime wet dreams that incessantly bedevil and bewitch teenagers, the ones in which the other kids (the ones you secretly like but who don't like you) rally behind your quest to make adults and jocks pay for being more powerful or successful than you are. Oh, yeah, King gets that part right. But that's about as impressive a feat as Deep Throat giving you a hard on.

After Charlie Decker takes over, his classmates become willing participants in his ridiculously unbelievable psychotherapy group. Charlie's father, you see, never loved him. That's about it. Once he knocked the wind out of Charlie and once Charlie overhead him telling his drunk buddies what he'd do if he ever caught Charlie's mom cheating, but mostly old Dad just doesn't care for Charlie. That's probably because Mom is a castrating bitch and Charlie is a constant reminder that Dad isn't getting any anymore, but that's neither here nor there. Charlie's dad is a Bad Guy and it's his fault Charlie becomes a murderer.

Having opened the floodgates of repressed feeling and emotion, the other students chip in with their own horror stories. Fat guy with overprotective mom, fat girl who gets no dates, and so on. (The reader must be careful not to implode under the pressure of such psychological depth.) It's all ostensibly leading to one guy, the jock who isn't the All-American he appears to be. However, since his story is no less superficial than all the others, King goes all Lord of the Flies on him to try to generate some excitement. He fails.

A truly miserable book, one that purports to reveal the humanity of its characters, but which instead celebrates only hate and violence.