"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Friday, December 30, 2011

Blaze by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

Blaze is Stephen King's twist on Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."

Hardcover edition - published June 2007 by Scribner.
285 pages.

Stephen King and DWD's Reviews have had an "on again off again" relationship. 25 years ago I read everything the man wrote and very much enjoyed it. It is one of my favorite books. But somewhere around Insomnia I got very tired of the Stephen King train and I got off for about 15 years. I picked up Cell at the library and I enjoyed it. Since then, I've done a little more Stephen King reading (and audiobooks) but not a lot. I've missed a lot of his books and will slowly work my way through many of them. I always enjoyed his Bachman books - Thinner and The Running Man have stayed with me for decades (especially The Running Man - King predicted reality television even better than he would have imagined way back when) so I picked this one up at a local bookstore and decided to give King another whirl.

Stephen King
Blaze can be summed up in just one phrase: "What if George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men moved from the Steinbeck novel to a Stephen King novel?" Of course, this world will be even darker than Steinbeck's world (which was dark enough) and our two main characters are not goodhearted day laborers, one worldly and one mentally retarded, trying to make their way through the world, they are con men and car thieves trying to make that one big score.

Bachman/King's book is much more detailed that Steinbeck's tiny classic, but it is every bit as interesting. This is an enjoyable, yet sad book that goes into the detail of Blaze's life (Blaze is the nickname for the Lennie character) and his attempt to follow through with a rather complicated kidnapping of a baby even though George died several months earlier. Blaze hears the voice of George in what I would assume is a personification of Blaze's own thoughts. Or, since this is Stephen King, it could be a ghost of George. It is never made clear.

It is an engrossing book that has the reader ironically pulling for a kidnapper. It is also a story of multiple "What ifs...?" at several points in Blaze's life. King is at his character-creating best in Blaze (I think that he gets overlooked for his ability to create rich and full characters) and when the book ends by a river in an homage to the ending of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. King acknowledges the inspiration in an entertaining introduction ("...kinda of hard to miss," he notes on page 4) and he also includes a short story first published in 2006 called Memory at the end of Blaze.

I rate this novel 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Blaze by Richard Bachman (Stephen King).

Reviewed on December 30, 2011.

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