Welcome! This is a Tri-weekly blog by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!
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I thought that I would change things up a bit today and write about something dear to my heart, books. I admit it, I have an addiction to the written word (duh) and I cannot possibly ever have enough books. Not eBooks mind you but REAL, physical books. To that end I sat down today and tried to contemplate what my “favorite” book is.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.
The fact is, I had to go with the book that has made the biggest impact upon me, the book I read over and over again on an almost yearly basis. Each time I read it, I find some new nugget of wisdom, some new moment or some new lesson.
For me, that book would have to be Stephen King’s The Stand. It is by far one of the most well written of his works and the sheer expanse of the book can be overwhelming to most. At a healthy 1,472 pages you don’t read this book unless you are serious about it.
For those of you who haven’t picked up this novel yet (and shame on you, kidding!) The Stand is Stephen King’s answer to the “end of the world” genre. He doesn’t create zombies or a flood or any other type of disaster. No, King decides that the world will be caused by a mistake at a military base that studies (and creates) nasty, nasty germs. This particular bug is dubbed the “super flu” by many and “Captain Tripps” by others. It’s a truly devastating virus, causing delusions, high fever, lots of gross mucous and the infamous “tube neck” – it ends up killing about 80% of the human population in the span of a month or so.
But that’s not all…
King diabolically crafts a story about death and disease but includes a true battle between good and evil. The “good” being the folks who meet up with a 108-year old woman named Mother Abigail. They make camp in Denver, Colorado (that was oddly the scene of a mass exodus during the epidemic so it is strongly lacking in corpses like so many cities). They are a varied group of survivors. From the musician and playboy, Larry Underwood to the stoic and brave cowboy that is Stu Redman. They know, from dreams they all have that evil is preparing for an onslaught and they have to prepare themselves.
The “evil” is represented by Randall Flagg, also know as “the walking dude” or “the black man” – he is a creature made of pure evil. He is unsure of his past but he knows he has been an integral part of so many uprisings and brings a feeling of dread to everyone he meets (even his followers). This camp sets up in Las Vegas (of course!) and includes criminal Lloyd Henreid (as his lieutenant) and The Trashcan Man (who is an insane pyromaniac who actually ends up being a sort-of hero). This camp is made up of criminals, drug addicts and confused souls who though that “the walking dude” was the right path for them.
Where Flagg is a tyrant, Mother Abigail is a welcoming and open soul. Flagg crucifies people who don’t follow his “rules” while Mother Abigail mostly leaves her people alone to do their (and God’s) will. It’s a wonderful study in duality. We see that the world truly can be broken into two camps, good and bad, God and The Devil. It’s also a story about redemption and discovering who you are. Many of these folks never had a real purpose in their lives before it the world ended. Nick Andros (one of the “good” guys) is a deaf and mute young man who drifted from town to town, doing odd jobs. He becomes a powerful force and finds that he can be a leader. Same with Larry Underwood, who is said to be “no nice guy” at the start of the book but in the end, manages to summon his strength and bravery and do his best to save his people.
I don’t want to spoil the end (and it’s a good one folks) but I want to say that it’s well worth reading. The Stand might be one of King’s finest works because it doesn’t rely on gore or cheap scares. No, he shows us how great a writer he truly is by crafting a story of biblical proportions.
Currently, The Stand comes in every format you can imagine and is easily found at bookstores and online. What’s really fun is that it also comes in a graphic novel addition which is well worth a ready. The editors did an awesome job editing this massive story into a comic format. The artwork is a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!
So tell me, what’s YOUR favorite book and why?