Friday, October 25, 2013

Off Topic---All Hallows' Eve and All Saints Day and Stories That Go Bump In The Night

Carrie (1974), Mile 81 and The Dune (2012), Joyland (2013), Stephen King; In The Tall Grass, Stephen King and Joe Hill (2012), A Face In The Crowd, Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan (2012).

Well, the leaves and turning and a fresh crop of zombies are rising from their graves. In the twilight, atop ivory candles are small white flames with amber and honey colored edges that honor and remember the saints who continue to intercede in behalf of humanity. All Hallows Eve and All Saints' Day are upon us.

Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows' Evening (October 31), a day in the liturgical annual calendar dedicated to remembering dead saints and martyrs, and all departed, faithful believers in the resurrection of the dead.  All Saints' Day [also known as All Hallows, Solemnity of All Saints, The Feast of All Saints] is celebrated on 1 November.  As for myself, I use the liturgical calendar and the Hagerstown Farmers' Almanac. My first 18 years included planting and harvesting crops, birthing and slaughtering cattle, and even, after one heavy but brief July rain storm, listening to two acres of corn grow. I respect the saints, mother nature, and those who have been committed to the earth and continue to await their resurrection.

Carrie is  Stephen King's first published novel; it was released on April 5, 1974   Set future year of 1979, the novel's focus is on Carietta White, a much bullied female who lives with her mother, a sociopath who uses small portions of The Bible to justify her abuse of Carrie. During a incident in high school, Carrie becomes aware of her latent telekinetic powers. By the end of the novel, the body count is above 500 and most of Chamberlain, Maine is ashes.

Carrie is an epistolary novel that offers a limited omniscient narrator and portions of documents that include fictional letters, commission reports, and imaginary non-fiction books. The novel's several main and secondary characters are compelling; the pace of the novel is neither too slow nor too fast.
If there is a problem, it is in the denouement. Carrie's path of destruction is too wide and the body count too large. It appears that King may wanted to use fictive documents to help him plot his first published novel and needed a castrophe to be investigated in order to justify their use.  Carrie appeared after the novels Rosemary's Baby (1967) and The Exorcist (1971) and the films (1968, 1973) respectively. Both novels and films broaded the territory which King could explore, such as a bullied child with delayed menstruation.

Mile 81 and The Dune (2012), Joyland (2013), In The Tall Grass, (2012), A Face In The Crowd, (2012) are better paced, more subdued and more creepy than Carrie.  The novella Mile 81 offers a malevolent, supernatural, shape shifting force stymied by a vulgar but clever adolescent. The short story The Dune is set, for the most part in a single with an older gentlemen reporting a prophecy of eminent death to his listener. Joyland is a short (for King) novel set in the early 1970s set in a North Carolina amusement park where a ghost prompts an investigation into the possibility of a serial killer travelling between amusement parks. In The Tall Grass and A Face In The Crowd are longer short stories which are reminiscent of Peter Mathieson's work and the television series The Twilight Zone. Mile 81, In The Tall Grass and A Face In The Crowd are offered only as audio and Kindle products.

With a twice a day 45 minute commute, audio books are nearly always sliding around my passenger seat. In autumn, on purpose I avoid the interstates and take two lane highways.  I pass small churches and their neighboring cemeteries, forests preparing for winter, pumpkin vendors and harvested fields. I slow down. I listen to stories and ponder mother nature, the departed, and the liturgy .

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