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The Stand
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
In that case I will say nothing yet, but I do like it. One of my favourite SK books.


Better ending than It, that's for sure.
life's not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis”
― E.E. Cummings

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't believe I just let Stephen King spend 1,200 pages convincing me that life is meaningless and futile and that, even if I do "make my stand(tm)," it's all pointless anyway and doesn't change a thing.

Buckle up, boys and girls. Heavy spoilers follow.


The good: There's some great character development here, in particular the pair of Harold and Larry.

I once read that Stephen King disliked Jack Nicholson's performance in The Shining because his character, Jack Torrence, was supposed to start sympathetic and become unhinged throughout the book, while Nicholson's performance started crazy and became even more unhinged. With all due respect to King, I appreciate his intent but not the effect: Jack Torrence started unhinged in the book (it's a big plot driver and the reason he needed to take the job at the Overlook, after all, as he was fired from his teaching job). In The Stand, however, King really pulled this off with Harold Emery Lauder.

Harold Emery Lauder begins as an obnoxious teenage snob; the teased and bullied book nerd who nobody likes but who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. I can relate; I was that kid. Anybody who ever walked to class with their nose in a book or was the constant butt of jokes because of their appearance should be able to relate. Unfortunately for Harold Emery Lauder, his flirtation with being a creepy incel isn't corrected as he learns to build and appreciate his relationships with those around him (you know, the way most outsiders do as they become adults), but rather Harold Emery Lauder goes full Unabomber on us. The transformation was incredibly well written and integral to the plot.

In contrast, Larry Underwood begins the story entirely self-absorbed. His mother calls him "a taker," but it isn't that he is greedy or intentionally malicious; he simply does not see or consider those around him. Throughout the book, we get to watch his perspective shift until it is almost completely reversed, with Larry frequently working to serve his friends and community even at great personal cost.

The bad: There's some truly terrible character development here.

There are others, but the main one I want to focus on is Nadine. We get roughly 400 pages of foreshadowing how Nadine has to make a choice, but she never really does. In fact, for someone so central to the plot, she is incredibly passive and only lets things happen to her. There is only one decision she makes in the entire book, and at that point, it's already too late to affect anything.

The really bad: Your actions are meaningless and resistance is futile.

So... the entire surviving population feels a psychic pull to either assemble in Las Vegas or Boulder. We are shown clearly that the population in Vegas is assembling left-over arms to wipe out the others, while in Boulder they're having community picnics and singing the Star-Spangled Banner. But the Boulder group know the danger they're in so they send spies to Vegas, and eventually a hobbit-like gang of four to confront "The Walkin' Dude" directly. The only problem is the group in Vegas destroy themselves through their own in-fighting, and it would have ended the same way if the challengers hadn't gone; if those in Boulder had never sent spies; in fact, if everyone else had merely stayed where they were rather than assembling in Boulder.

It didn't make a difference at all. The Vegas group would still have blown themselves up.

Then, when our fearless hero returns to Boulder, he is confronted by a gung-ho sheriff who is setting up the same "law & order" organization that Randall Flagg was brewing in Vegas. He's demanding his deputies be armed because they don't know how to deal with drunks except by shooting them. We know that "law & order" type, and we know where he's going. There really wasn't a difference between the two groups after all, so why does it matter which one you chose? The sole remaining protagonist, Stu, is so disillusioned that he takes his newly-formed family and heads back for the East coast.

After all that, you get the scene of Randall Flagg waking up to start the whole thing over again. There is no break, there is no rest, nothing is gained and nothing is earned. Everything is pointless so why bother?

Thanks, King. I need some mental bleach now.
"You make me think Hell is run like a corporation."
"It's the other way around, but yes."
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2020 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


I definitely agree about Nadine. Big disappointment. And Lauder, I loved how he seemed to come so close to making reality of the mask he had constructed.

I was a bit disappointed by Flagg's "end," but I woulda taken that over the DT's end for him.

As for the other...well...let's be doesn't matter. Oh, it matters to you, and the people your life intersects with, (for good or ill), but to humanity? To the universe? Doesn't matter a good god damn. Very Happy

All that matters is what you do, and how it affects others. Briefly.

I'm at peace with that, so not only does it not bother me, but I never even really noticed that that was an interpretation of the story.

Hell, as I've said before...I find the futility kinda liberating. Very Happy And meaning, well, you make that up for yourself so... Very Happy

It's easy to judge. It's more difficult to understand.

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