There are two distinct groups of people in the world: the ones who tell stories, and those who pay attention. People have been confabulating tales ever since we grasped the ability to communicate. In today’s popular culture, there is only a small amount of people who can compete with Stephen King. Over the past forty-years, he has set a high standard when it comes to storytelling.
Most adults would forget their nightmares. He doesn’t, and normally writes every detail of it. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is the compilation of all of those eerie narratives. From a husband who cannot accept his wife’s death, to a journalist whose fictional writings immediately become reality.
These ideas, however, are not always well executed. While the prose is competent, some of the universes created in these stories fell underwhelming. In tales such as “Under The Weather”, “Morality” or even “Afterlife”, there is a blatant attempt to deliver a higher message, as we witness the unravel of King’s new façade: not only does he want to entertain, he wants to make the reader think beyond. Ironically, this is where the book reveals its weaknesses.
Despite these minor inconsistencies, every story in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is competent at entertaining. The narratives engulf the reader in King’s universe, making the reader forget about reality for a few minutes. After all, this is all it matters. It is the purported goal of fiction, isn’t it?
“Awakenings” by Oliver Sacks might be regarded as one of the most poetic stories ever told. When brought to the corporate Hollywood screens, it caused an enormous impact on its audience, propelling the author’s name into the luminous aura of mainstream culture and in itself, “The Island of the Colorblind” serves as the logic continuation of the literary brilliance found in his previous works.
In it, the renowned neurologist recounts his experiences during his summer visit to the Pacific Ocean archipelago of the Micronesia. In some of these small islands, genetically transmitted diseases proliferate due to the isolation of such locales. As a result, the same maladies recur throughout subsequent generations of individuals. There are societies where colorblindness is the norm, and there are population where strange neurologic syndromes resembling Parkinsonism strike many individuals. Both of these intriguing cases are all meticulously described by Sacks, that reveals his emotion through his accounts. As a result, he surfaces as a very empathetically humanistic scientist.
But the book is more than a scientific analysis on such terrible diseases. It is a thorough exploitation of the author’s literary resources. Sacks possesses the unique ability to write about reality in such whimsical terms. Metaphors and adjectives prevail amongst his descriptions of nature and of the human condition, a writing ability so profound and authentic to the reader’s mind that after he finishes reading the book, all he wants to do is meet Oliver Sacks in the flesh.
Whatever the precise definition of the “novel” concept might be, it certainly does not hold “Island” as its epitome. It is comprehensible.
After the release of the acclaimed dystopia known as “Brave New World”, Huxley’s name became forever imprinted into the respectable hall of fame of science fiction writing, which might have hindered his prospects into finding other ways to convey his own opinions. In “Island”, the reader is overcome with the feeling that he might have been coerced into masquerading the book’s message as a “novel”. Despite it, the book reveals tremendous intellectual achievement, and it is efficient in attaining its ultimate goal: to cogently spread an alternative approach to the entire scheme of contemporary life.
In order to accomplish this monstrous task, Huxley utilizes his immense knowledge on the fields of oriental philosophy. He creates the character of Wll Farnaby, a journalist from an England newspaper, and sends him on his way to Pala, an isolated island over the coast of Asia, on a journey is one of discovery and enlightenment. Once in there, he finds the natives friendly and surprisingly hospitable. Their purpose is to edify his perceptions, and change his true nature. Together, the palanese (Huxley himself) attempt to imprint within his mind their own interpretation of reality.
Huxley’s tale about a utopian society based in oriental philosophy is not a fictional narrative in its traditional sense. It is, instead, a brilliant, creative, and mind warping essay about the current state of occidental civilization.
Do not kid yourself. Orwell’s novel about the consequences of living in poverty is not fiction. This might sound like a paradox, a very strange oxymoron, but it isn’t. And I’ll explain why.
This is the “made-up” story of an English writer who goes to France. Once there, he is faced with a sudden lack of wealth income. Living with almost no money, he finds it is imperative to find work. After weeks without a job, a job at an expensive Hotel in Paris surfaces when he meets a friend who tells him about it. Working as a Plonguer (in French, “dishwasher”) in the underground caves of the Hotel’s kitchen, he becomes submerged in drudgery.
In 1929, Paris was far from a paradise city, as some like to conceive it. It was a slum filled with vagrancy and indecency, masqueraded by a veneer of pomposity and luxury. Orwell wants to make sure the reader grasps this point of view.
The plotting of the book is a mere pretext for Orwell. In truth, he tries to explore the narrative as a dissertation mechanism. The book’s genius resides in its accurate, vivid description of humanity. In it, the reader is faced with a disturbing series of first-person accounts of what it was like to be deprived of money in a society that depends upon it.
Known for his pertinent essays, George Orwell cannot write novels that feed themselves solely on escapism. The subject matter of his stories often serve as subtle ploys. All he desires to do is make people think about the world in which they are so idly involved. It concerns itself with tickling one’s conscience.
Mr. Follet may not be the most talented popular writer out there, but he surely makes up for it with intricate and engaging narratives which make bold and assertive statements about political and social issues. For as long as he is been doing it, he has mastered its craft. However, one thing he hasn’t become proficient at: cutting down the manuscript’s length.
The novel, although extremely complete – it covers and solemnly focuses on thirty years of cold-war – lacks character. Not characters: they are plentiful and diverse, however the personality and chemistry between them just isn’t there. As in every historical novel, fictional characters experience and participate in real-world happenings. It obviously doesn’t contribute to the believability of the plot, but it surely is an effective device to tell the desired story, and Follet executes it with class. They are, for the most part, descendants of the characters that made part of the previous two books, and they pretty much resemble them in their actions.
To me, the main problem is the novel’s length; some scenes should, and could have been cut out. It’s not that they’re uninteresting or not compelling, most of them are. However, the sheer abundance of interactions and dramas between the characters play a good part in boring the reader out, and cause mental exhaustion. Of course, not every reader will manifest it, but for the most part, they will lose the engagement they once had when they started the book.
In conclusion, Ken Follet brings goodwill and ambition with him to the word-processor. He has done his research, he has prepared his outline well, but in the end, he doesn’t seem to understand where he could have improved. He ends the trilogy with a bang, but it could have ended with a nuclear explosion. Well, the cold-war didn’t, so I guess it’s all right.
Stephen King needs no introduction, and his stories no explanation. They just fill in an entire parallell universe while becoming embeded in eatern civilization’s pop-culture.
In Mr. Mercedes, a 66 year old King does something his rather advanced age could not have permited: irreverence. And, although the formula of the novel might seem overdone, he adds is little twist to it.
Brady Hartsfield is the phsychopath King portrays in this novel. A tormented yet intelligent young man, whose infancy proved troubled. Now, revealing the killer is by no means a spoiler, because you become aware of is identity very early in the novel. Therefore, Mr. Mercedes is not a mystery story, but a well told detective story between Brady, and a retired police officer. Brady had run over 9 people at a job fair and got away with it. Hodges, the detective, is watching tv and considering suicide when he receives a letter from him: “I had pleasure in doing it, but I won’t do it again.” This drives the rest of the plot.The coherent, engaging, well constructed prose, believable characters, situations, it is all there, for us to endure and enjoy.
Engaging, emotional, and most importantly, immensly entertaining, MR. Mercedes brings out the best in popular literature. A must read for all of us who dearly love alternate realities. Our own isn’t enough, after all.