Top critical review
You Will Probably Hate My Review
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 24, 2020
(Sorry, in advance.)
I cannot understand how this book is (purportedly) the fifth most popular novel in the U.S.... I think a lot of people read King early in their reading lives? It was the 70s and 80s. He was a big deal, getting bigger. I did not read King early. I read a lot of great books, stories and writing styles (also a lot of terrible ones) before my first King book, which was that awful "11/22/63" thing a few years ago. He was never on a pedestal with me. He didn't catch me when I was young or impressionable. I have read a few of his books now, most being hit or miss, and most having a few good elements but also a lot of bad.
The best King book I've read was a Bachman, The Running Man. That one I loved. And, of course, it's nothing like his usual fare.
I typically have *that moment* when people tell me that King is their favorite author. It's like when someone tells me that "how to lose a guy in 10 days" is their favorite movie. Seriously, what do you say?...
I read an article last night (from a big google rabbit hole) where a guy wrote that "King is like America's Shakespeare"... That made my brain hurt. King is notoriously overly wordy, and his stories and characters are pretty immature. Most of his characters are cheap stereotypes, and his worldview is extremely limited (which often makes it racist and backward, in a special 'Maine white boy' way). His novels have mostly reminded me of comic books set to prose.
But, let's be honest, the horror genre isn't where you find your great works of literature. Or your best writers, characters, stories, etc. Horror in itself is kind of a lowest common denominator genre, so King can definitely be King of that. Although, the most horrifying thing about The Stand is its length. It's not really a scary story at all. It does manage gross on occasion though.
The Stand is King's longest work, if I'm understanding correctly? The Stand also encompasses all of his shortcomings. It definitely has the overly wordy aspect DOWN. Clocking in at over 1,100 gloriously restored pages, it knocks overly wordy out of the park. (Hey, King, War and Peace called. They said you used all the words. You made James Joyce cry.) And, with characters like Flagg and Freemantle, it also aces simplistic, stereotypical characters, with a "magical negro trope" thrown in for good measure (another King standard use item, by the way - black people must have been very exotic to him at one time). The characters aren't just cartoonish and stereotypical – It also has too many characters, in my opinion.
The worst characters are:
Flagg and Freemantle
and T-O-(O)-M (boy was HE tiresome!)
But The Stand does have some good points and some good characters. I think the story idea is a good one. It also has occasionally beautiful and wise observations and prose. I really liked the character Stu and enjoyed his storyline the most. I also like the characters Fran and her father, Larry and his mother, and I love Kojak (and that they named him Kojak - and that he lives! That's a big deal for dog characters across all time and media.)
And, one small bone to pick: Why didn't they drive?... Going from car to car, to truck, to motorcycle, bicycle, etc wending their way across the country? On page 337, he has Stu *choose* to walk, because he likes it... but I really think it's because King was trying to write some kind of epic Hobbit type story where the heroes have an old school walking adventure (yet more self-indulgence on King's part).
I *really* wanted to enjoy this reading experience, and had heard such good things. But, alas, now I have to go find a place on my shelves for this gi-normous two-star book brick... 😕