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Now, The Great THE STAND Epic Read Update:
On page: 500
On chapter: 44
Just read scene: Everyone who is going to die of the virus is dead. Everyone else who is going to die because of the lack of people, has died. Now, the survivors are making their way across the country, meeting up with one another and having prophetic dreams of the Dark Man and Mother Abigail. I just read the scene where Larry Underwood, quite skinny, exhausted, and bearded, has fallen deeply asleep under a tree by a babbling brook.
I won't lie: reading is going slower than I expected. Not because of the book. King's writing style is, of course, quite readable. The story is just SO LONG, and I get so little time during the week to sit down and just READ, you know? At best I get an hour or so in the evenings when my husband and our 5YO child, the Juban Princeling, have their pre-bedtime "quiet time" together, plus maybe some time during the day when I'm not writing and the 19MO Duke of Juban is napping. At worst I get 10 minutes in bed at night before I fall asleep.
Either way, hitting the 500-page mark feels like some sort of milestone: only 130 pages until I'm halfway through, woo-hoo!
I do like the book a lot so far. I like the slow burn progress, I like the multi-character POV (something my critique partner Tony does really well), I love the dialogue. One of King's biggest strengths lies in the small but highly disturbing graphic details he throws in as a matter of fact: "So-and-so missed the way his friends used to X, Y, SOMETHING HORRIBLE, GAH!, and Z together."
The scene: Stu Redman has just left Glen Bateman's house and is now traveling alone, and considering whether or not it would be a good idea to run into other people.
"Just lately Stu had been thinking a great deal about old friends and acquaintances. In his memory there was a great tendency to downplay or completely forget their unlovable characteristics -- the way Bill Hapscomb used to pick his nose and wipe the snot on the sole of his shoe, Norm Bruett's heavy hand with his kids, Billy Verecker's unpleasant method of controlling the cat population around his house by crushing the thin skulls of the new kittens under the heels of his Range Rider boots."
WHAT??? There I am, reading along, and everything seems to be fairly normal and generalized: Yes, we tend to downplay the more unpleasant qualities of the dearly departed. Then first, I get hit with Norm Bruett's heavy hand with his kids - vague enough to let my imagination work overdrive, despite reading earlier in the book this character's idea to break his kid's arm to shut him up. But then comes the increasingly disturbing and graphic image of Billy stomping kitten heads. Gah, indeed. Well played, Mr. King.
Those details serve to both make the book more realistic -- yes, there are people who do horrible things in real life, and really disgusting things really do happen sometimes -- and to constantly remind me why Stephen King is considered the Master of Modern Horror.