A blog for people who take books seriously, but little else.

Archive for April, 2012

The evolution of a reader, and what the hell that has to do with women’s rights.

Beginning this blog with Stephen King is a no-brainer for me. Mr. King was my first favorite author, after Dr. Seuss.  I remember finding a box of dusty books that had belonged to my aunt, which, to my eight year old mind, was a lot like finding pirate’s treasure.  My mom had never been able to keep up with my voracious reading appetite. I am sure The Shining caught my eye because of that shiny, tinfoil cover.  When I flipped it over to read the back, I knew it would be my first choice.  I am one of those people who love to be scared.  You’ll probably notice a preponderance of horror here.  It’s my first love.

 

A signed first edition, sold by Phantom Book Shop in Ventura, CA. Isn’t it shiny?

I started there, and Mr. King won my heart. It was like talking to a friend, and he would tell me a story, painting word pictures with detail seldom matched by any author I’ve read.  This was, I think, the beginning of my transformation from a child who loved to read to the adult reader I would become.  I grew up with Mr. King, and learned a great deal about life, and people along the way.

I’ve chosen, today, to talk with you about Gerald’s Game. Why? He has newer works we could discuss, certainly.  I’ll have to let you a little further into Imaqulotta’s world for the answer to that.

I, like most of us, was raised on books. I did not get a Kindle until recently, when a kind author friend of mine got me one for Christmas. Much as I love books, I also adored my Kindle from the beginning.  If you have one, you know. If you are a hold-out, I understand. I revere my hardback collection as well.  One of the perks of the Kindle is the number of books you can get FOR FREE! Finally, endless books! Never again would I say “I have nothing to read,” which at my house is said in a tone similar to one used to utter the words “I have a terminal disease”.  However, when I was blessed with an Amazon gift card, I suddenly became miserly with it. Waste even one of those precious dollars?!  Then I recalled a part of my hardback collection which had been exiled to the attic when I moved home, book babies I had not seen in at least 7 years. I generally re-read books that I love, but with these, I had been unable to do so in quite some time.  Perfect Kindle purchases!  One of these was Gerald’s Game.

Jessie and Gerald Burlingame are a middle-aged married couple, attempting to spice up their stale sex life with a little kink, in the form of light bondage and role-playing.  They, mostly he, decide that they would take a trip to their summer house, to play “the game” there. Obviously, it’s more than a game to Gerald, who has invested in police issue handcuffs for this version of it.  I must spoil a little of the book to tell you that Jessie decides she’s not a fan, and tells her husband so. He refuses to let her up, pretending to think she’s only playing.  She kicks him when he tries to rape her, and he has a heart attack and dies. All this seems pretty horrific, but happens within the first 25 pages of the novel. The whole of the rest takes place mostly in Jessie’s head, as she tries to escape the handcuffs.  The subject matter may not be for you, but it certainly was for me, and it’s my opinion I’m giving you, after all.

This was the first book, in my whole horror fan’s life, that scared me so badly I covered my eyes, as if it were a movie. Of course, I couldn’t read this way, so I settled for covering my head, as if about to be struck. This was way back in my 20’s, when the book was first released.

Revisiting it, after at least 7 years, with many more of Mr. King’s works committed to my heart, I was  impressed anew. How he could set an entire book mostly in someone’s head, and make it interesting, is part of his genius.  Although his characterizations of women have been criticized, King’s Jessie seems authentic to me. I think some men romanticize women in fiction, or portray us as cardboard archetypes: Mother, Wife, Nun, and Whore, to name a few.  King never seeks to flatter us, instead creating actual characters, who aren’t always perfect.   What struck me most; however, was how little progress we have made in 20 years in the “Battle of the Sexes”.   In fact, the disparity between men and women seems to be the underlying theme of the whole novel.  While King seems to understand women, he is very clear in his representations of men who don’t.  A quote sums up the idea: “he had sort of decided I’d behaved the way he would have in a similar situation…if, that is, he’d had to deal with a high fever at the same time he was trying to deal with everything else. I have an idea that’s how most men believe most women think: like lawyers with malaria.” We can laugh, ladies, but I think this still rings pretty true today. You only have to look at the current debate over women’s health care to see it.

However, the novel also remains scary as hell.  You don’t have to read it with any political agenda in mind to enjoy a sometimes gross, sometimes suspenseful, sometimes creepy good time.  On the Imaqulotta Scale, I rate this book as Heavenly.

 

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