FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King
“A spear-carrier for us all … a gestalt of guilt and sudden nightmare.”
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FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King
I’m due to start below another of my now universally remarked-upon real-time reviews, turning leitmotifs into a gestalt.
Stephen King – ‘FULL DARK, NO STARS’ : Hodder & Stoughton 2010.
There is no guarantee how long it will take to complete this review, whether days or years.
CAVEAT: Spoilers are not intended but there may be inadvertent ones. You may wish (i) to take that risk and read my review before or during your own reading of the book, or (ii) to wait until you have finished reading it. In either case, I hope it gives a useful or interesting perspective.
All my real-time reviews are linked from here: https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2010/09/07/df-lewis-real-time-reviews/
“It could stay there until the end of time, for all of me.”
Until now, that is.
This novella entitled 1922 is the year my own father was born. And this is a father (‘the Conniving Man’) and son relationship, where dire influences and results of human nature (weaknesses as well as strengths) pan out towards a Bonnie & Clyde scenario. But that gives a wrong picture. Each time I renew my acquaintance with King’s work, I’m amazed how I’d forgotten how good it is and how, retrocausally, the books all came flooding back, like good ‘bad memories’ or rats in the wall of my brain. This story contains so much heartache and, above all, or below all, a central tableau well-image that sears your very soul. with each new sighting or imaginary ‘take’ you take of it. A still life whence bits come off up from it and attack you. Literally. Yes, literally. Until now, that is. Looking back at the whole harsh reality-symphony that Kings you out, sets you back on the balls of your feet. I ended so sad. But so certain. That I had lived through a literary as well as literal experience. And a Horror genre experience that makes you proud of that genre, even if the books themselves often facially disown it. Staring up at you. Things moving back up. Time and time again like a recurring dream that even sleeplessness or the deepest possible sleep itself can’t protect you against dreaming. (2 Jan 11)
Page 127 – 175
“The abandoned store with the ticking sign was then still ninety minutes away, tucked snugly into the future…”
Here, by stunning (truly retrocausal) synchronicity of fiction, the equivalent, if not identical, ‘well-victim’ from the previous story takes the stage as the plot’s protagonist: No-1-Lady-Detective-Agency-type creator, pussy-cat loving – now suddenly concealing, within an inverse whodunnit, her own traces so as to prevent her reputation being entrammelled by the horrendous out-of-character crime visited upon her by Fate, by a helpful lady officiator with a short-cut, by a giant man in a “truck” called “trick” and by Tom the Sat-Nav…and by her own self-conscious Bonnie Tyler voice…
It’s almost as if she’s wearing this story like a vehicle. (2 Jan 11 – six hours later)
Page 175 – 228 (End)
“She paused long enough to look back over the pages and see if there was anything she had forgotten.”
Only King can get this to work as it does. Just to disguise the precise direction-finding of the story-line itself, I shall not change anything in what I’ve already said above (i.e. about 4 hours ago) when writing about this novella up to page 175. Astonishingly, it all still applies, but differently. It is as if I am party to some deeper level of narration that every reader is writing alongside King. A confesssion of I-did-it. I am a party to the blame. But I will add that bits of this story rear up and talk to me of atonement and revenge stitched with ‘1922‘-like guilt-nightmarishness now expressed, partially, as internet-paranoia. And in many ways, I regret having started this incriminating real-time review for fear of being googled into it. But it’s too late. I’m already knitted right into the texture of the text up to the hilt. Cast on with no hope of casting off.
A genuinely far-fetched story Sat-Nav’ed towards outright believability of truth. Brought into some audit-trail or route of cartographical turning-points in womanly righteousness. (2 Jan 11 – another 4 hours later)
Intermission: Sleeping on the book’s title, with two more fictions for me yet to read, I think the inference may be that death is full dark with no stars, and as represented by the first fiction, there is no soul or Star, indeed, nothing to speckle out the uniform unconsciousness … but there are Rats. Rats as retribution-seekers given birth to by death? Or as sparks of life … reincarnation? Or simply a horrific reminder a person is nothing but meat rats eat? Or something else yet to be established? Some other whodunnit DNA yet to be knitted by the ‘truth’-needles of fiction? (3 Jan 11)
A Good Marriage
“o omnipotent Google, so generous and so terrible.”
I think this is the first time I’ve ever made this mistake in one of my real-time reviews! I am very upset with myself: accidentally reading the book’s fiction out of order. A genuine mistake. This is the fourth fiction in the book, not the third.
But perhaps there is meaning even in mistakes. I feel this is where the first two stories meet each other in the mirror of each other. “….where every truth was written backward.” A catharsis yet not a catharsis for the book. Another nightmare happening that you would wish never to have happened. Only if you could turn the clock back. Or change reality itself. Another woman with a ‘well-tableau’ – a frozen, spotlit, searing vision of past and future colliding. Forgiveness and retribution in close “propinquity” if not coincidence. The ground being taken away from under your feet: the ground you’ve stood on, it seems, forever. A sinking feeling. And things again talking to you from reality as well as from the fiction that contains that reality: like those earlier rats, those sat-nav’s of life, those knitting patterns that don’t seem to work out, those potentially collectable coins in currency across time and space, those Google ‘caches’ that incriminate you from the future’s storage of the past. I feel almost guilty simply reading this fiction. That’s how King’s fiction works: enjoyably compelling narrative, as ever, the storytelling made perfect by its imperfections – but also guilt trips creeping up on you unawares: and mistakes. Until now, that is. And you try to undo or conceal it. But the internet is unforgiving. I will not even think about deceiving it, let alone the people who read it. (3 Jan 11 – five hours later).
” ‘I swung a reality extension…’ “
In many ways, I’m glad I’ve left this ‘iffy’ epilogue, coda, morality tale, fable – inadvertently or serendipitously – in its rightful place, here, at the end, where things inevitably end up. Essentially about the ultimate rat-infestation of a body as a sunken ‘well-tableau’ and the law of averages not being an average law. If I had a wish granted and wished ‘subtraction’ from anyone, for my own selfish benefit in the share of things available to us all, it would be from the author of this short story (the only short fiction in this book not long enough to be called a novella). Thankfully, that author’s not King as King wouldn’t have been able to countenance writing this. The one who created this story is an anonymous writer or a bit ghost-writer with broad shoulders enough in the scheme of unfair Fate. A spear-carrier for us all.
Meanwhile, the three main novellas in this book have surely been created by the King of Authors – a gestalt of guilt and sudden nightmare. They represent the overall Horror classic. Genuinely.
I shall now read the book’s ‘Afterword’ for the first time. But I shall not be back here to tell you about it. (3 Jan 11 – another 3 hours later)