Monday, March 9, 2009

Cujo = Stephen King what were you on?

Apparently he was snorting multiple lines of cocaine around the time of writing this novel. Seriously. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Well, that last statement is probably debatable (he's living clean now, good for you Stephen). What isn't debatable is that Mr. King is one of the most popular authors on earth, and I've taken it upon myself as a newly dedicated disciple of all things writing to find out why (and how). King has stated that his preferred formula for writing is to get a character or two throw them (usually in slow motion) into a difficult situation and watch as they try to squirm their way out of it. The conflated series of coincidences that conspire together to bring about the "I just put my characters up a tree and now I'm throwing rocks at them" moment in this story are worthy of a Dickens protagonist, which is somewhat fitting seen as King has been hailed as the Dickens of our generation.

The Story pulls you in from the outset, with a folkloric intro that's an insightful piece about how bogeyman stories come into being. Frank Dodd a psycho-cop has just gone on a killing spree in Castle Rock, Maine, he being one of his own victims. I really liked this (the intro that is, the rampaging cop I'm neither here or there about, until near the end of the book that is). After the preamble we get in to the story proper and it's all setup, 100 pages worth, not that I'm complaining, this was the best part of the book. We've got two families one red-neck, the Cambers, and one (upper) middle-class, The Trentons, and a massive St. Bernard, the title's namesake: Cujo. Just how and why Diana, and her son Tad Trenton come to be trapped in a bomb of a pinto at the Camber's house, with a literally rabid Cujo taking up a vigil outside, waiting to tear the Mother and son combo limb from limb, needs to be read to be believed. King is a genius at capturing human moments, I loved the sub-plots: the caught in infidelity angle, the advertising account drama, the proletariat hubbubs turning their noses up at bourgeoisie ways. He even captured canine moments well, which was novel and intriguing. We got frontal-lobe seats in Cujo's brain. Nailed it.

Unfortunately once Cujo begins stalking our Heroine and the Tadster, this page turner like Diana's plodding pinto starts to run out of juice. They say the end is in the beginning, but that isn't in evidence here. The supernatural elements in the story go absolutely nowhere. Cujo is either possessed by the disembodied spirit of Frank Dodd (hinted at near the beginning) or he is the unfortunate victim of a rabid bat bite. The author clearly tells us which of these scenario's is the case leaving me to wonder why the extremely nebulous connection between Dodd and the dog is even suggested. This was a major point of weak-sauce in the book. Moving on, the Dog Vs. (Wo)man plot eventually resolves itself; I won't ruin the end for you, except to say that it ruined the book for me. Stephen those must have been some dark days for you my brother, because this excrement of an ending is just cruel.

The Skinny: Well written, but not what I'd hoped for. A so solid crew score of three and a half stars.

P.S. You may have noticed, I just made up a whole new meaning for 'hubbubs'

P.P.S. 156, the number of times people broke out in 'gooseflesh' in this novel, I had a similar reaction eating broiled ham fry the other night.

Next: Great Expectations, The Graveyard Book, The Shining, or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, whichever I finish first.

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