Too much of the world is pure awful right now.
So under the read more (because spoilers) I’m going to nerd about the Dark Tower because I just finished rereading the last book.
No, seriously. SPOILERS AHOY-
Okay The Dark Tower. I have been a huge fan since I was a kid and found a copy of The Gunslinger on my Mom’s bookshelf. The first time I read it, I was probably around 10 and I didn’t really care for it that much. The copy I read had some nice art but I wasn’t into it.
It wasn’t until the mid-90s when I’d read more of King’s books did I get into it.
When I read the Drawing of the Three, King’s problem with magical negroes didn’t hit me quite as hard. I understood both Detta and Susannah. That was around the same time I started to see the weave of these stories through King’s other work. It was one of the very rare moments that baby fan me saw myself in a world I loved.
It was huge for me. To have my at the time ULTIMATE author, put a woman in his most magnificent work, who could have been my aunt or cousin meant everything. A few years down the road I started to love the Gunslinger for a whole other reason.
Flagg as he was in the book The Eyes of the Dragon was my favorite book and after reading that, I reread the first two Dark Tower books and it clicked.
I was a little baby potato writer then, I wrote a secret knock off of horror movie stars and it clicked for me what he was doing. King has created this enormous body of work in which this world, the Gunslinger’s world infiltrates everywhere. At one point at about book 5 or so I went back and read every book I remembered any hint of the Tower in and it made an everlasting impression on me.
The Gunslinger has such a beautiful and rich language to it. Even the not so great parts have that highly stylized language and that moves me. In the last book there is a part where Oy and Jake need to trade brains.
When Oy is in Jake’s body he says something like, “bark, arf, shitbark” or something similar. I stopped at that point and it really reminded me about how fine and precise the language has evolved to be. From the yar that has crept into my own personal lexicon to the way Susannah speaks (only sometimes dipping into some nonsense) to Eddy Dean and Jake’s speech patterns are so well honed by the last book.
While if you read a lot of King a lot of his characters can blur together, in this series particularly even minor characters we only see a bit of, are finely sculpted.
Now I have to talk about the end of the series.
At the end, we find out just what kind of wheel Ka is. It is a mother fucker.
Now, rather than Roland going around and around up the tower to be return to his quest, which in theory I find very elegant. It is close to how I first imagined the tale ending, because Roland is like time.
How would I change it?
I think at the end, I would have Roland watch his own rebirth and a sort of speeds up version of this new Roland coming of age, going through his test and being sent West. At the point where Roland is booted back into his quest, I’d have one Roland lay over, knowing what is to come and the other just going along with Jaime’s (was it Jaime?) horn and a tiny flutter of an inkling that things are new.
That said, the rest of that last book is just a master work. It is a lesson in breaking your reader’s hearts a lot and we stay around. I mean, when the tet started to break I fucking KNEW it was coming and sat on the bus with tears on my cheeks. I KNEW it was gonna happen and yet, I wanted to reach in and pull them out to save them. I really enjoy the use of addressing the reader in an intimate kind of fashion.
And Roland. I love Roland so much. Roland with his literalness, his flawed ways of thinking and relatively slowish mind charms me every time I think of him. As far as a Western Cowboy type hero, who is so imperfect and strange and sad I just love him.
If I’m going to be real about it, I think this series has had the biggest most far reaching impact on my work since I was a little potato. I hope I write enough and live long enough to have some world (maybe The World) be present in both bold ways and tiny ways.
I mean, what if someday there are all these stories. That gallop around genres and whatnot that maybe when I’m 75 I write a huge novel and suddenly the connections are really there.
And don’t get me started on the movie. I’m so fucking hype for it.
Also another time maybe I’ll write an essay about how the Dark Tower fandom was the first I fell in love with and the one that really drove me out of fannish spaces.