Monday, April 13, 2015

Roadkill Review: Joyland by Stephen King

Part mystery, part horror and part bittersweet coming of age drama. Joyland tries to be a lot of things at once and while overall it largely succeeds as a novel, it fails to do most of those individual elements any real justice.
Mystery aficionados may feel this Carny whodunit has a faint whiff of the Scooby Doo about it (I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you medalling kids!) While traditional King fans will no doubt be disappointed with the under-developed Shinning-esque sub plot. It’s the nostalgic, last summer of innocence feel to the narrative that works best out of the three, and in spite of a lot of foreshadowing it had me invested and even left me feeling a little wistful toward the end.  It might not be Stand by Me, but it ain’t too shabby either.
“When it comes to the past everybody writes fiction.”
While lines like that may give you reason to pause and consider your own rose colored glasses you can argue that others such as, “It was the best and the worst autumn of my life,” do nothing for you and I’d have to agree. If anyone other than King had written that one I would have probably ditched the book on principal right there and then. But over the past 30 years Steve and me have reached an understanding. I overlook these odd literary indulgences and he usually repays me with a pretty good story, and although flawed Joyland really is just that.  

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Roadkill Review: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas

I must be one of the few people over the age of forty who had never read this book. At this distance it would be easy to dismiss Fear & Loathing as nothing more than a drug addled romp through the desert--a coked-out fuck up of a book throwing up on its own shoes in some dingy back alley--and maybe it is. But it's also a lot of fun and it says much about the time in which it was written.

In 1971 America was at war, not only in Vietnam but also with itself. The sixties were over. Peace and love had been replaced by something else. The American dream was still out there, somewhere, but the idea of exactly what it should be was now up for debate. As Thompson puts it, “Consciousness expansion went out with LBJ, and it’s worth noting historically that downers came in with Nixon.”
The times were indeed a-changing. Dylan might have gone electric in 65, but it took a little longer for the world at large to realize the age of innocence was over and plug in. From then on it was every man for himself and to hell with the rest; to hell with consequences too. 

Thompson's tale of manic excess encapsulates that brave new dawn and then proceeds to burn it up with mescaline and a wry smile. But hidden in the dope haze, behind the bloodshot eyes of a four day bender lurks an unrequited longing for a simpler time when Scott McKenzie advocated no trip to San Francisco would be complete without flowers in your hair and John Lennon claimed that love was all you needed.

If Kerouac was the voice of the post war beat generation, then Hunter S. Thompson speaks for all those who came down from the summer of love and spent the rest of their lives wondering just where the hell it all went wrong.

Does any of that make Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas great literature? Probably not. But it does make it worth your time.