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Rose Madder

 
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:40 pm    Post subject: Rose Madder Reply with quote

I just finished this today, one of the books in the DT "matrix" that I skipped.* This is a decent book, but I have complaints, as usual. Rosie was an adequate protagonist, portrayed with sufficient clarity and detail. I liked her. She starts out as a battered wife of an asshole cop, who drops everything one day and runs. She leaves her husband of 14 years without looking back, without telling him. It takes a lot of guts and you can sense her fear of both his pursuit and the unknown path before her. I like her awakening. As she begins to build a new life for herself, the tension is very low and her recovery is fairly straightforward: new apartment, new job, new boyfriend. It's all bland until she finds a painting in a pawnshop that "calls" to her, and changes everything.

This is where the straightforward story veers into pure Stephen King weirdness (and indulgence). When his stories drop off the cliff of reality into horror/fantasy, it's often difficult for me to take the leap with him. I go back and forth between thinking it's a cool way to grab the reader and heighten the tension, and thinking it's a cheap gimmick. Literally anything can happen at these points, and all the rules are broken. It's like inserting, "... and then a miracle happens," in the middle of a scientific explanation. It seems to invalidate everything that went before or comes after. If it were built into the story from the beginning, or if there was a little more ambiguity about whether it's "all in her head," or if the characters wrestled with these questions (e.g. Covenant on the reality of the Land), then it wouldn't seem to easy. It wouldn't seem so transparently fiction. It would be more complex, like metaphor. But no, we're supposed to read the weird freaky shit just as literal as the mundane world ... which makes it a bit more mundane itself. It's no longer surreal, just "real" with weird, supernatural stuff in it. Like going to the grocery and shopping for aliantha.

I also don't like how every male character in this story is just a prop to show off female strength. The bad guy, her ex-husband, turns out to be a big wimp who can have his ass handed to him by middle-aged, overweight women. I can't count how many times this guy fell down and busted his own nose/balls/knees/etc., because some clever woman flipped him, tripped him, put some object in his path, etc. Except for a few scenes, he's completely harmless.

That takes all the tension out of the final showdown. It would have been nice for Rosie to have some kind of epiphany and growth during such a showdown--she's been dreading seeing him again for the entire book. You'd think that something important would happen here, rather than all of her character development already developed. Instead, she's a goddamn Wonderwoman with a magical arm bracelet and superhuman strength, literally carrying her useless boyfriend around while he spends the climax of the book coughing. Men are dumb, useless, brutish mostly harmless animals in this book. Props for female empowerment.

So instead of character development and epiphanies, King retreats to the supernatural for his climax, allowing horror and shock to carry the story to its end. We do get a nice epilogue after it's all over with some really interesting hints that Rosie actually has to grapple with her anger over her husband's treatment of her, that she's not entirely superhuman. That would have been great to see developed, but it's an afterthought, easily cured by planting a seed ... which weirdly represents death, instead of life, but I'm not sure King is worry about consistent themes at this point. If he'd been interested in that, the book itself would have been much more interesting.

*[The DT connections are pretty thin: a couple mentions of "ka," one mention of a rose in a vacant lot (one item in a list of several things that are unexpectedly beautiful), and a throwaway mention of Lud.]
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hated this book. Hated. It. This, along with Gerald's Game, Bag of Bones, and Dolores Claiborne are the absolute nadir of King's writing. I'd rather re-read The Tommyknockers than suffer through these turds again.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually liked Gerald's Game. Very original and creative. Try writing an entire book with the main character tied to a bed, see if you can do better. Laughing

Given Dolores Claibore and this one, however, one has to wonder just how much of an ass he was to his wife while he was a drug addict. They read like acts of penance from an abusive and/or neglectful husband.
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Meaning is created internally by each individual in each specific life: any attempt at *meaning* which relies on some kind of external superstructure (God, Satan, the Creator, the Worm, whatever) for its substance misses the point (I mean the point of my story). -SRD

Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pretty much of an ass probably.

This wasn't one of my favourites. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. In fact, I didn't like it much.

Doesn't this have the girl with the 2-tone hair from Desperation / The Regulators in it as well?

(I liked Dolores Claiborne actually...thought it was quite cleverly done.)

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