Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Colorado Kid

I started The Colorado Kid by Stephen King yesterday and finished it at lunch today. I guess it goes without saying that it is a quick read. My copy is a 180 page paperback with a pretty large font so it was almost like reading a novella. Unlike most of his published work, this novel is a mystery...at least that's what the "Hard Case Crime" cover leads you to believe. I picked up my copy at the library's store a few months ago for two main reasons: 1) It's a Stephen King novel that I had yet to read and 2) I live in Colorado so how could I not pick it up for only a $1.00...

The story itself is a pretty straight forward one. It involves a young female reporter intern at a small weekly newspaper in Maine and two old geezers who run the newspaper. They tell her the story of the "Colorado Kid", a dead body that had been found several years previously, sitting propped up against a trash barrel on the beach. They test her reasoning ability as they drop clues about his death and she does very well at figuring out the correct answers. This is really more of a "coming of age" story for the young reporter than a traditional mystery tale. Stephen King's style is very much in evidence as he once again displays an uncanny ability to capture the local dialect as the two old guys tell the story. As Mr King himself says in the afterword, it is likely that many readers will not appreciate this story because there is no resolution to the mystery. Let me say that again: the mystery is not solved at the end of the book. It's not even a "Lady or the Tiger" kind of ending where there is a choice that just hasn't been made yet. Instead, we get the mystery and we get some clues that maybe this isn't just an accidental death but rather a murder. The story is about the mystery itself, not the solving thereof. Mr King's point seems to be that we are surrounded by unsolved mysteries all the time and "just thinking on 'em" is the fun part.

It is also interesting to note that this is the first book Mr King wrote after he completed his huge "Dark Tower" series. Perhaps that leant a hand in his thinking at the time.

If you need to have your mystery novels neatly wrapped up in the final pages then this one is not for you. I won't list this one at the top of my Stephen King "Best of" list but I did enjoy the characterization. And yes, I would also prefer closure to the mystery; otherwise it is just so much existentialist profundity.

"The Jaunt" is the 6th short story in Stephen King's Skeleton Crew collection. First published in the "Twilight Zone Magazine" in 1981 it concerns the process of teleportation as a means of interplanetary travel. Most of the story is about a father describing the history and evolvement of the jaunting process to his kids just before they themselves jaunt to Mars. It is a horrifying and bloody history but the process is safe now as long as the proper procedures are followed. This one is more of a science fiction tale and, indeed, references a classic story written by Alfred Bester, "The Stars My Destination" back in 1956. This is sort of ironic for me as a reader considering that just this year I read the "Psi Corps" trilogy by J. Gregory Keyes (Babylon 5 Universe) starring a character with the name "Alfred Bester". This all makes me want to seek out a story by the actual Alfred Bester. Anyway, I won't spoil the ending but rest assured that the final page of this story is classic King horror. Chalk up another winner in this collection.

Next up: Impossible Odds, another in the excellent "King's Blades" fantasy series by Dave Duncan.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire