“For a moment the tip of its twitching tale stuck up, and then that was gone, too.”

My on-going real-time reviews of THE DARK TOWER novels by STEPHEN KING.  Continued from here:

I admit that I’ve been made accidentally aware of the blurb on the back of this book and I feel I should mention, in this light, that I had no premonition of certain facts when I listed Stephen King as one of the Big Coffin Hunters in my review of ‘Wizard and Glass’. And I now hereby state that the book found upside down in the Tower bookcase was not ‘Nemonymous Night’ by DF Lewis (how could it have been?) but ”Salem’s Lot’ by Stephen King – a book I read when it first came out and about most of the detailed plot of which I’ve forgotten, although I gather Faddah Callahan was a character in that book. I also repeat my confirmation that I am a ‘Dark Tower’ virgin reader – but I have read most of SK’s other books when they were first published, i.e. from the days of ‘Carrie‘ onwards, notwithstanding my memory being poor regarding any fiction plots even when or if these plots are fully absorbed into my Sump of Moy (as I call it). Also, I will continue not to read any book introductions, afterwords etc. or other reviews of the ‘Dark Tower’ series until I’ve completed reading and reviewing the whole series including the forthcoming ‘The Wind Through the Keyhole’.

[All my real-time reviews are linked from here:]

There is no guarantee how quickly this review will progress, whether it be days or years.


first published 2004 – this edition Hodder Paperback 2006


Beamquake – 1st Stanza

“‘Magic and glammer, both are one, and they do unroll from the back.’ He paused. ‘From the past, do’ee ken.'”

Poignant tying up of means and ends after the Wolves defeat; and the ka-tet, reduced by Susannah’s jumping the beam or audit trail of the paths of fiction – and they fear for her farrowing a cannibal ‘child’ so much so that following her is second nature, even if Roland loses his cat-oil pampering.  I am back in the world of Dark Tower, my own Dark Tower – and the Calla earthquake (with Susannah already off through the cave-doorway with the fukushima-box, as I call it, containing Black 13 and with Eddie’s blind pining for this his wife) reminds me not so much of any beamquakes (mine’ll come later I’m sure when I finish my search for Dark Tower’s final real-time reading), but reminds me more of Cross-lover Callahan’s  memory of a quake in Callafornia (although the book’s spelling is different). Each stanza a memory of a better commala…(but can one have memories today about tomorrow?) [I am reminded, too, that the Turtle is named  Maturin. Cf: My real-time review of The Dracula Papers by Reggie Oliver : “To some extent, so far, it reminds me of ‘Melmoth the Wanderer’ by Charles Maturin.  And I now realise what I must have already known: that Maturin is short for Maturing – the act of always falling short of the perfect climax that is your death…till, apparently, you succeed.”] (8 Apr 11)

The Persistence of Magic – 2nd Stanza

“‘Lewis, Thonnie!’ he said, almost jovially. ‘Bring me the Branni coff.'”

Aided, as we are, by the Amish-like Manni – and by means of a holy relic as a humming persistence-dowser of a pendulum-bob from the coff-in, out, in, out, instead of the Calla’s palaver-control or ‘feather’-khef – we are confused as to whom of the ka-tet – with extras or spear-carriers like Lewis and Thonnie or a stalwart like Callahan? – are ka-boomed through the door towards the smells and sounds and dangers of New York. I am glad Oy’s probably got through instead of Lewis. We shall see… The adventure begins again and hopefully Oy’m right there with them.  But who else is? And will we save Susannah? Or reach the Dark Tower instead? (8 Apr 11 – five hours later)

Trudy and Mia – 3rd Stanza

“There was a ningly-tumb place on her back […] where she knew the crazy woman’s plate would bite into her, drinking her blood and then eating one of her kidneys before coming to rest, still quivering, in the live chalk of her spine.”

A truly memorable (if I can return here to check one day how memorable) scene in NY near the vacant lot (cf: the vacant lot of books before you read them?) in NY amid humming and chiming, of Susannah-straining-but-failing-to-dislodge-Mia’s arrival like a religious Annunciation vision (a vision for bystander-hard-nosed-businesswoman Trudy): a vision of a black woman whose limbs visibly grow to fit some future child-bearing cross of pain and who’s wielding sharp-edged dish’cus-plates (plates of meat = slang for feet) worried about shoes for those feet: shoe-sizes: Trudy’s shoes: reminding us of those by-chance ready-to-wear red shoes that appeared in earlier memories now almost half-forgotten… (9 Apr 11)

Susannah’s Dogan – 4th Stanza

“His tiny penis floated like a strand of kelp below the lazy curl of his umbilical cord.”

I sense these books – standing on each other’s shoulders – strive to reach increasingly ground-breaking perceptions of self in Jungian mutuality. Here, Susannah’s ‘Dogan’ – an appropriate anagram of ‘gonad’ in synergy with the still ‘enceinte’ creature and how it was created – in Mia-Detta’s belly, inside a woman  now become, in more ways than one, the ‘bag-lady’ of downtown NY during what was for me once the unimaginable future of 1999 [we even watched a far future Science Fiction TV series entitled ‘1999’  in the 1970s] – yes, Susannah’s Dogan, how can you explain it? The beauty of the power of the Dharmic Dogan is that you can’t explain it. Like two or three or, even, four people using one body – this is also an inscrutably hybrid method of inner and outer surveillance-with-monitors beyond the simple reading of a book or, even, any reading between its lines…. (9 Apr 11 – four hours later)

The Turtle – 5th Stanza

“Never mind, it’s the future, Susannah told herself once again.”

And now the book itself recognises the Mia-NY-Susannah-subka-tet being contained as a bag-lady, not only just by me in the earlier untutored premonition above.  Hidden in one bag, Maturin the Turtle, that seems to make these future New Yorkers — outlandish in themselves by means of perspective towards Susannah’s bizarre future as well as from our normal present — become hypnotised into drooling after owning it … and Mats (Maturin?) van Wyck, a Swedish businessman, seems to be instrumental in getting a similarly future / present hotel room for ’Susannah’ – Susannah herself in poignant token-control till her bottom falls out (or her recent Mia-legs begin shrinking) by sudden lift-shaft todash – and am I really writing this explication?  It all makes a semblance of sense as you read it in the primary source material but as soon as you come away from it to get on with a domestic chore it all seems so retrocausally … mad! [Susannah SoS.  SoS Susannah. Commala rhyme. Commala time. Save our Souls. Save our Stanzas.] (9 Apr 11 – another 2 hours later)

The Castle Allure – 6th Stanza

“…that sense, so queer and perfect, of stretching into a new body as if it were a stocking one was pulling up over one’s calf and knee.”

[Doggone! Suze legless in a dog-cart, and Mia out of the Suze-Mia Mix / Merlon-Pillars and Serapes, they’re in a communal fix.] A white (!) Mama Mia is temporarily discrete, in the mock-alluring Castle (soon-to-be-dreamed-about-by-me-at-night-I-fear-when-I-am-far-from-this-laptop-to-‘confess’-and absolve-the-nagging-worries-and-nightmares-caused-by-these books-that-I’m-real-time-reviewing): the Castle of the Abyss (close to the Dark Tower end-quest itself?) and Mia indiscreetly reveals her intra-oedipal obsessive-love for her ‘enceinte’ chap: her ambitions of a New Coming amid Ontological and Teleological Arguments regarding her chap’s eventual Divinity and its gunslinging-spermatic demon-ouroboric conception in her belly – & the nature of the Holy Trinity as also exemplified by the Suze / Detta / Mia miscreant-katet.  The first time I’ve really understood such religious concepts. Then Mia back together inside the same Suze body in the hotel, Suze recognizes that, for the sake of her ‘enceinte’ chap,  Mia has betrayed Roland and Eddie to their enemies -and Suze tries to strangle her by doggone-strangling herself.  Ouroboric Philosophy in the guise of Heroic Fantasy or, more palaver-debatedly, black and white supremacy. “Was it God that made magic, or was it magic that made God?” (10 Apr 11)

The Ambush – 7th Stanza

“”Because infinite worlds spun on the axle which was the Dark Tower, and here was another of them. Yet only one world was true; only one where, when things were finished, they stayed finished.”

Or the Ribbons of Reality, as I call them. But it is news to me that only one reality is real, i.e. with the instinctively *felt* resonance of veracity. In any event, keeping my powder dry, I will report that, here, in this reality, Eddie and Roland explode back, via the cave Doorway, into the pre-world of the Andolini / Balazar mafioso-type shoout-outs concerning Calvin Tower &c &c. the details of which cannot be given justice in a real-time review, in case my own real-time is deceived by its confusions.  Here, a shop or garage where Eddie and Roland also meet John Cullum who, ka be thanked, is a dependable seeming guy, one who talks of inscrutable human-seeming ‘walk-ins’ (a variation on ‘spear-carriers’ (?), the biggest spear-carrier of all – as I made the case about it a few months ago in my own on-line real-time review of ‘Full Dark, No Stars – being Stephen King himself) … and I am fascinated by these concepts, and worried about them, too, in the terms of this fiction world that may indeed be more real than my own world? The shootout / ambush itself is the one that Suze feared in the previous chapter as an outcome of Mama Mia’s treachery.  Meanwhile, what has happened to Jake and Oy? Oy is evidently no longer me? [Instead of an ‘omiscience-withdrawal’, this chapter has what I call an ‘omniscience-intrusion’ (or authorial spoiler) – at the end of its section 4.]

“The door to the storeroom blew off its hinges, walked halfway down the aisle surrounded by a cloud of smoke, and fell flat.” (11 Apr 11)

A Game of Toss – 8th Stanza

“All at once he felt strangely unreal to himself, a shade you could almost see through, as thin as . . . well. as thin as a page in a book.”

I seem to be riding the beam of this book better and better. With more practice, I may well find myself writing it instead of reading it … riding it.  Yet, there is part of me worried, as, here, Eddie is worried about Susannah elsewhere, her and her body’s ‘enceinteness’, while they toss a ball back and forth during this 1977 palaver with Cullum [as the Weirdmonger once did in 1988] … and the concerns with Calvin Tower, the books he’s selling or collecting, the sorting out of which concerns seems some strange ka-quest, regarding “…precious books, such rarities as ‘The Dogan’ by Benjamin Slight, Jr. and ”Salem’s Lot’ by Stephen King“, Stephen King who is around age 30 and recently on the radio: and Faddah Callahan was a character in that latter book… (This chapter began with reminiscences by Eddie of his brother Henry and Henry’s dog of a girlfriend, and Tolkien’s Hobbits, with Cullum’s house here in 1977 being a bit like a Hobbit’s home, but why I need to record that in this review is beyond me, but I am somehow compelled to do so.) (11 Apr 11 – ninety minutes later)

Eddie Bites His Tongue – 9th Stanza

Echoes, re-echoes, true echoes, false echoes, true echoes that turn out false, false echoes that turn out true, 20th century cultures in interface with each other along the ribbons of reality, and which is Brooklyn, which is Bronx, and biting the belt that tightens truth, and which cowboy film echoes which erstwhile basic plot in this book and vice versa, and whoever wrote the book is in the book itself writing from inside out, and Eddie, Roland, Deepneau, Tower et al unravel themselves towards a property deal that might tighten truth even further towards the many resonant tropes or imponderabilities that pepper this book but are now coming together into the you that was you before you started reading ‘The Gunslinger’ and got  this far against all the odds of ‘the synchronised shards of random truth and fiction’ established by me in a 2003 book, but where book collecting is an obsession like drugs, especially when you can get them signed. And then saying this to someone in 1977: “Anyway my point  is that all these people who are flockin to invest in Microsoft and Macintosh and, I don’t know, fuckin Nervous Norvus Speed Dial Chips, all they’re gonna do is make Bill Fuckin Gates and Steve Fuckin Jobs-a-rino rich.”  Then to write all that and more down in the book, this book, in 2004! And in 2011, lemons run off a cliff… (11 Apr 11 – another 3 hours later)

Susannah-Mio, Divided Girl of Mine – 10th Stanza 

1 – 9

No, she thinks, I am Susannah. Susannah Dean. I’ve been taken prisoner again, jailed again, but I am still I. […] Commala-come-come, the journey’s just begun. / Oh, but that’s a lie. The journey is almost over. Her heart knows this.”

I often feel I’m going mad, myself, imprisoned in this book. The accretion and accrual of words (neologisms as well as the acclimatisation to countless refrains) all of which I absorb and now know the meaning of instinctually – together with the splitting of time and personality, including my own, as, here, Susannah-Mio (the Doggone Dogan Susannah) and Mama Mia (mama-ised by ‘enceinteness’) [my clumsy refrains and, not King’s]  and Detta’s uncouthness and directness are in a dissonant symphony of race and visionary femininity, and femininity’s guilt, anxiety, its fiction-midwifed realities – as ‘her’ legs suprisingly and gradually  seep whiteness upwards from the feet towards the thighs, whereas the original leg-loss of the Negress was lower down. And who will be jettisoned first – the Detta or the Demon?  And real historic characters like Kennedy, Martin Luther King &c. are dead, Jake, Eddie, Roland, too (?), and “New York is dead, the world is dead, the worlds, the Tower is falling, a trillion universes are merging, and all is Discordia, all is ruin, all is ended.” And talking of ruin, we are even shown the place where the Wolves ‘roonted’ the twin-counterparts of Calla – – Meanwhile, Mia is about to tell Susannah her story in the section yet to be real-timed… (12 Apr 11)

10 – 19

“I was made to bear my chap and raise him, no more than that. And no less.”

A teary, touching tale that casts Mia – not only as the Mia Farrowing by means of ‘the Prim’ – but someone tougher, less prim, as no doubt MF the actress was in real life (seen here significantly at one point in this chapter in her twenties) even if her character in ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ in a different real life was gullible and ostensibly prim (her clothes are actually called ‘prim’ here and compared to BVM) – yet here the Mia-Farrowing is not used purely as a fructifying womb-vessel for the demon-tool of the Crimson King or Walter / Flagg – but as part of an inspiring and semi-religious maternal pact, where the Mama-Madonna (BVM?) gives up immortality to bear this child, and then look after it for merely 3 or 5 or, is it, 8 years – dependant how gullible or prim she becomes or what events await her in Fedic “on the edge of Discordia” (Fe = faith, Dic =?). But she ultimately sacrifices herself for the child, [before perhaps pitifully boarding the Patricia Mono along the same track that Brooklyn-born David Blaine’s Mono once travelled with false magic if entertaining riddles?]…. And Susannah is party to this inextricability by having the baby transfused gradually between them [like skin colour being ‘faxed’ then fixed from one body to another?]. This is some of the most incredible literature I think I have ever read.  The implications and the refrains will last me forever, and I have not long to go…. (12 Apr 11 – ninety minutes later)

The Writer – 11th Stanza

1 – 7

“I don’t think he needs to be immortal. I think all he needs to do is write the right story. Because some stories do live forever.”

Eddie and Roland approach Steve’s house – and his wife Tabby and sons Owen and Joe.  This is a ribbon of reality that seems to resonate the “crispness” of ultimate truth, of where we all live. The crucial nemonicon, where “magic fiction” – and my own appearance in the novella ‘Weirdtongue‘ published in my name – reaches something that almost puts tears into my oys. ‘Almost’, because I dare not admit otherwise. It makes me believe in Roland more and in Steve less. Oy’s another typo – such as the typo that appears only in the edition of ‘Wolves of the Calla’ I’m using: “For a moment the tip of its twitching tale stuck up, and then that was gone, too” – a typo that fulfils any yearning for uniqueness among sameness and  (as “among bibliomaniacs” like Calvin Tower) adds pounds to my waste.  “In this world I don’t think there are any do-overs.” (12 Apr 11 – another 3 hours later)

8 – 13

“I think telling stories is like pushing something. Pushing against uncreation itself, maybe. And one day while you were doing that, you felt something pushing back.”

I’ve just posted that quote on Facebook for my ‘friends’ to read, a quote in the name of Stephen King (‘Song of Susannah’). And, indeed, today, I think the internet and, later, my discovery in 2008 of my ability to conduct public real-time reviews about fiction books that I happen to be reading (i.e. seeking leitmotifs and forming them into gestalts) all came together ka-wise to ensure that, one day, I would read ‘The Dark Tower’ books and experience them in this way, because, without real-time reviewing them, my slippery mind, my flyaway-paper attentiveness or recondite Sump of Moy, would never have experienced these books to the highly valuable degree that I have experienced them (so far).  Thanks, too, again to those from the Stephen King Forum who are encouraging me. And, in many ways, it’s now the fact of Stephen King’s own appearance in the books – where he meets in palaver his own characters Roland (SK himself?) and Eddie (Cuthbert?) – that has ensured this, my once-in-a-lifetime reading-experience, has really now taken full ‘todash’ in his mind, if not his in mine.  I am the spear-carrier, not him. The ka-det. “I buck against ka’s goad, and will until the day I go into the clearing at the end of the path. […] …ka flows out of my navel like ribbon…” (12 Apr 11 – another 2 hours later)

Jake and Callahan – 12th Stanza

1- 7

“Why, this place is a madhouse. Did I know that before and forget, or is it something I just learned?”

Jake and Callahan and Oy cannoned through the Doorway Cave into NY and meet the street-henchicked preacher with God-Bombs – amid real ‘road rage’ as a parallel to fiction rage in overdrive (‘mad’ as in ‘angry’ as well as ‘barking”), and Jake acts as if he is 19 not 12, pulling a gun / on a hit-and-run / commala-fun. But this is a madhouse or a  flying too close to Dark Tower’s wind, a tower towing advertisement-ribbons behind it saying: “Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!”)?  We shall never know, but Stephen King’s now more famous, and, meanwhile, they’ve reached the ribbon of ka whereby they are taken by that same King (or a different King, an impostor King?) to the new-fangled answerphone at the hotel in a room of which Mia-Susannah may be palavering a list of possible reincarnations for her child (my speculation / assumption, not King’s, i.e. dead candidates for reincarnating being JFK, Martin Luther ‘King’, Peter Sellars, &c…?) Gad and Doggonne! “Oy, who got less doggy the longer you looked at him?” Still barking mad. But not, as someone accused me here, high! (13 Apr 11)

8 – 18

“‘I think it’s the Crimson King’s eyes. I think it’s part of him that’s trapped in there forever, and insane.’ […] ‘Guard your mind.’  […] The droning song of the idiot…”

J,Oy & C reach the hotel room, rob a maid (mia-d?), with s-m gone to ‘The Dixie Pig’ (where there is smell of roasting pork when they get there – cf: ‘mia farrowing’). And they take Black13 in its bag (cf Azathoth and the bubbling idiot at the centre of universal chaos as well as fukushima?) and they hunker it in left luggage within the potentially expunging shadow of the Twin Towers (cf twins and towers)… and our triolet (with S’s dish’cus plates as weapons) face bravely the potentially expunging ka of their own extinction…  As I do. As we all do.  But not before we finish these books.  Like a teetering tower of books instead of cards, or twin teetering towers, each tower towards a different ending dependant on if the words move about into different Chomskyan transformations within the yet unread books while we are asleep or if new cards (or books) are later inserted as ballast or counter-balance. Or whether Kindles or Ipads catch on. (3 Apr – three hours later)

‘Hile, Mia, Hile, Mother’ – 13th Stanza

“Too late now. /  Too late to do anything but go through with it.”

From the ‘Land of Ago’ / Dogan / Dagon / Dharma / Positronics / Sombra tow-dash, tower-dash of Susannah’s youthful past in the 1960s, those wild, fulfilling, tragedy-sown years now a busker’s-show for Mia – (“It’s Odetta Holmes at the apotheosis of her life, and Mia is there!”) – then the Dogan Positronics blow a Whovian fuse in a ‘Flash of Gordon’ – as I do – with the book’s extremely powerful writing ensuing – in the Dixie Pig – including an initial Detta-force then quelled – as Susannah and Mia enter what I can only call a blend of the major ‘gathering’ scenes in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ coupled with rat / bug horror images &c – the Hellish labour towards the child, Roland’s Childe, and even more dread! When reading it, I tried to think of other things – forspecial plates, even sharp dish’cus plates – but I kept coming back to this essentially nightmarish Long Pig of the Night.  A Long Time a-Farrowing. Has to be read, because, if I could do justice to it here, I would have written it first. But King was good enough to be the one to carry it, as the story-sitter. I read it, and by reading it created it for real. My eye doth fill, but it doth not spill. “Nothing opens the eye of memory like a song,” or a commala-mahler of a das lied von der erde. (13 Apr 11 – another 2 hours later)

Pages from a Writer’s Journal: CODA

“Almost a Vault of Horror type of thing.”

I shouldn’t have read this. I only read it because I customarily end all my real-time reviews by deeming the last chapter of a novel or the last story in a collection or anthology a CODA. I’m made that way. Symphonically.  In Sonata form.  Equally, my real-time reviews are intended to deal ‘cold’ with the fiction text itself, and not be influenced by introductions, afterwords, author notes, other reviews, etc. &c.  Yet, somehow, this CODA (so-called) is seminal to the SoS text. Indeed it is an SOS in itself. An SOS from the book’s character called ‘Stephen King’, however much it is laced with autobiographical truth, good family life and literary triumphs. It is also a celebration of the ease with how the DT slips down the pen from the inkwell to the sequel or inquel and then like silk into the reader’s mind however much a ‘madhouse’ thematically it otherwise may appear.  If SK had not already appeared in person within the fiction text itself, I would have regretted reading this prose example of ‘extraneity-creep’ loosely called a CODA – or a deducer or deCODA that nobody needed in order to suss out the books’ Beam or Audit Trail, least of all cool DT fans.  But he did, and I did. [Meanwhile, with the arrival of Kindles and Ipads, I keep a thought for “those folks in the Middle Ages who might have heard rumors  of books but never actually saw one;” and also for that oldish lady reader with a brain tumour who wanted advance info on how DT was to end. My loyalty is with the Tab Key not the Escape Key when it said to our author: “Toadjer, Muhfuh!”] (13 Apr 11 – another 3 hours later)

“Nothing opens the eye of memory like a song,” or a commala-mahler of a das lied von der erde.


I shall be real-time reviewing in due course the seventh book in ‘The Dark Tower’ series. Please watch for an eventual  announcement and the link to it in the comments below


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5 responses to “SONG OF SUSANNAH – The Dark Tower

  1. Pingback: My Real-time Reviews of Books by Other Writers | DF Lewis's Real-Time Reviews

  2. Pingback: The Dark Tower: THE DARK TOWER | My Last Balcony

  3. Pingback: My Real-Time Reviews of Stephen King (The Dark Tower etc) | My Last Balcony

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