Books of June/July…and a claim to literary fame

Last month, I didn’t post the three books I had read because I was actually in the middle of two (real big ones!), and figured maybe I could merge June and July. Thus is this the first installment of my monthly posts about the books I’ve read. Clearly, I’ve got an “End of the World” theme happening here…

the_dark_tower_1_the_gunslingerThe Gunslinger by Stephen King* – Back when I was in elementary school, I couldn’t get enough Stephen King. It was sometimes awkward that other kids were reading Judy Blume and I was reading Misery, but now you know I’ve been morbid all my life. I remember being really fascinated with this book when I was in 4th or 5th grade because it actually had some color illustrations but I remember very little of the story, and after reading a couple years ago that HBO had picked up the series, I wanted to reread them in anticipation of that. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything about this since then.

Anyway, back to the book: as an adult reader, I wasn’t exactly hooked. Basically, you’ve got rogue “gunslinger” crossing an apocalyptic world on the hunt for “the man in black.” I like that Stephen King makes books that appeal to the masses, but they aren’t simplistic. (ok, well a few are pretty simple, i.e. Christine or Cujo). The relationships and internal monologues of characters are often very sophisticated, and he presents a unique way of developing the geographies and landscapes that characters exist in. That being said, I didn’t immediately go to pick up the next book when I put this one down so I’m a little lukewarm.


The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta – Speaking of HBO series, I am someone who really insists on reading a book before seeing the show or movie. I’m a total purist about it, meaning I’m that super annoying person who’s like, “Yeah but in the book this is what happened…” Now I like to see how a book can be interpreted, but I don’t like when they flat out change the story. It drives me insane (GOT, I’m talking to you).

The idea behind The Leftovers is that one day, 2% of the world’s population just disappear. Some say it was the rapture, but most disagree because many who would be considered “good christians” weren’t taken, and others who clearly didn’t live christian lives were. The story centers on several characters (who are all connected in some way) and how they grapple with being “left behind.” On one hand, I have to give it to Tom Perrotta that he spends very little time with the actual moment of “the rapture.” All of the apocalyptic stories, shows, movies focus on that moment the shit hits the fan – it’s what we all wait for. He doesn’t. For some, we never even find out where they were; it’s not important. But I also didn’t connect with a single character – something about them felt empty. (And maybe that was the point! Right?!) Regardless, I still felt myself thinking about the story when the book wasn’t in my hand – it really explores a lot of issues about self, identity, and relationships. Thus I’m still going to recommend it.

SO – have you started watching the HBO show but not read the book? I have to say, they AREN’T EVEN CLOSE. For once in my life, I’m going to say that you probably don’t need to read the book to watch the show. From what I’ve seen so far, HBO has completely rewritten and retooled EVERYTHING. They added gratuitous sex and violence; changed characters’ jobs and relationships; added deep emotional reactions where there none. If I were Tom Perrotta, I’d be pissed.

UnknownAfterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa – I had recently read the big hubaloo about iconic Archie being killed off in the Life With Archie series, and thought that maybe it was the end of an era. I’m not a diehard Archie fan, but I did read the comics quite a lot growing up (I’m a total Betty). So when I saw this on the rack at the bookstore, I picked up it with irony, thinking it would probably be silly and stupid.

I was so wrong! This new series is genius! In a nutshell, Sabrina (the Teenage Witch) helps Jughead resurrect his beloved dog, who was hit by a car. Unfortunately, the dog comes back “wrong” (a la Pet Sematary) and bites Jughead, who then becomes a flesh eating zombie. He invades the prom, takes down several people, and suddenly a zombie apocalypse is unleashed in Riverdale (and the world). Archie’s gang take refuge at Veronica’s gated estate, fighting off the masses of zombiefied townsfolk.

In a time where zombies have been played out for years, this campy reinvention of Riverdale makes perfect sense. The art by Francesco Francavilla is also pretty badass (i.e. Archie having to bludgeon his own zombie parents comes to mind) and I would like to point out that it is FAR BETTER than Walking Dead (which I always thought was mediocre). It might not be for everyone, but for an Archie fan, I think it couldn’t be more perfect.


*For Christmas in 1995, I got AOL 1.0 as a gift. That’s right, I got THE INTERNET as a present. Who knew? There wasn’t much to do back then, other than the 6 chatrooms AOL offered. You could also search for a person, but the only information it would give you was their name, screen name, and location. I searched Stephens in Maine, and found a screen name “WriterKing”. I realized someone could be faking the profile (although few people had internet back then, and “catfishing” was still years away), but I took a chance and sent him a message. I asked if he was THE Stephen King, said I was a student who wrote a lot of stories. I also clarified that I was NOT into conversing with perverts who wanted to talk to children, but if it really was him, he should “Write back or die,” (I was 14, give me a break). 

Here was the response:

IMG_2597Seem legit, no? I even sent him a story and he gave me some feedback. I didn’t want to bother him anymore, but I’m pretty convinced I had a 10 day online conversation with the one and only, Stephen King. 


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