One thing about Stephen King is that as a writer he is actually extremely socially relevant. Although the subject matters are often freaks or ghosts or aliens or telekinesis or miracles, the topics discussed and explored in the stories are mostly pop and close to real life. Often, his story starts with a setting very “nextdoor-American”. Then something happens and gradually drifts out of control. All the “abnormal” elements start to kick in and make a whirlwind of a journey. However, there is always a background topic, e.g. violence, dysfunctional family, substance abuse, etc., that remain the same. This is especially true for his more recent books.
One may argue that this is all story makers do. Take a topic from real life and push some part of the narrative elements to above and beyond. That is what literature does. But I do think King is different in the sense that he is not using exaggeration only as a tool, which inherently are not real. But rather he is writing exaggerations as a natural consequences of normal things. Essentially, what King does masterfully is to use these “supernatural” and “abnormal” phenomenon to reflect how bad and ridiculous normal things can get to.
In other words, what he is really implying is that “abnormality” is actually part of “normality”. Which is true. When we read of dragons or Apocalypse, we know they are not real. They are fun to read and maybe metaphors for weapons of mass destruction or climate change disasters. But we know they don’t exist, at least yet. However, when we read about Brady Hartsfield. His ability and his actions and most importantly the impacts, are very real. Domestic terrorism, mass murder, suicidal cult…There is probably no mind-control, but some minds are definitely controllable and controlled.
Like it or not, the truth is that America is a place where the “unbelievable” is very believable and even real. It is the way he can make readers realizing that irony that makes King a legend.
Some additional and final random thoughts on the Bill Hodges Trilogy:
- Personally, Mr. Mercedes does not work for me. Finders and Keepers does. End of Watch is sort of in the middle.
- Bill Hodges may be a good and lovable old fellow in real life, but as a fiction hero, he is a meh.
- Nostalgia, as a mood, is better served in Things rather than Persons.
- Carrie was bullied and had a reason to go berserk. Brady does not. Batshit craziness of self destruction doesn’t need a reason anymore. It is becoming a natural phenomenon, just like… Bill’s cancer.
- Rescue missions often happens in a snowstorm. – Shining.
- Doctors’ hunting camp – the dentist who killed Cecil.
OK, that is far enough I just went.