'Salem's Lot

 
Between Peter and I, there seems to be a cross-Atlantic trend towards reviews in the middle. Which doesn't mean that we don't finish the books, just that... Well, I'm not sure what it means. On my part, certainly a lack of patience appears to be the case. And a compulsive need to talk about a story that's affecting me profoundly.
A few days ago, when I came upon the idea of writing about the bogeyman, I was quite impressed with myself for coming up with such a brilliant idea. It took me until yesterday to realize that maybe, just maybe, it was triggered by reading 'Salem's Lot by Stephen King. Of course, I'm having the kind of week where on Monday, I spent quite some time wondering why the water was pooling in front of my eyes while I was taking a shower, only to realize that I'd forgotten to take my glasses off. For the first time ever.
Apparently, my brain is busy doing other things. Yeah, that's it.
I've read 'Salem's Lot before, 20 years ago and at the time, I didn't like it, but for years, haven't been able to remember why. As I am re-reading it, I'm pretty sure it's because it scared the crap out of me 20 years ago and continues to scare the crap out of me today.
The second day of reading, which is quite early in the book, as I tend to read about 1 1/2 to two hours a day, I realized I couldn't read this book too close to bedtime at night. The fourth day, I had a vampire nightmare. The day after that, I started a new reading rule: Salem's Lot may be read only up until one hour of going to bed, to be followed by something inane and vapid which will clean out any residual images, words or feelings from my brain area. Which, considering that I am an old pro at the horror genre, is tantamount to admitting that I should be kicked out of the club for being a wuss.
The book is a reinvention of sorts of Bram Stoker's Dracula, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it was inspired by the classic.
What if Dracula came to a small town in Maine? That's the central premise and given that the book is over 20 years old, I'll refrain from talking too much about the plot, as I assume most horror fans will know it and non-horror fans won’t care. Suffice it to say that it gets the Stephen King treatment. Despite how nervous it's making me, it is a fantastic novel. I believe it was his second book and although it does bear the odd mark of being written early in his career while he was still a bit raw, the display of sheer storytelling genius is very much present.
It builds slowly and effectively, drawing beautiful and detailed sketches of small-town living like I'm beginning to believe only King can and by the time you, as I am now, are halfway through where it all starts going terribly, terribly wrong with the speed and abandon of a roller coaster barely gripping the rails, you feel like it's happening to you, to your town. This book has me nervous when I read it in bright sunlight, but I can't stop, because I have to see what happens. Not in a normal "I really want to know" way, but in a "if I don't finish I don't think I'll ever sleep again" kind of desperation. Of course, reading it makes me want to not sleep. Ever. Just in case. 
The audiobook is read by Ron McLarty, who reads it brilliantly. I have mentioned before that I didn't realize how brilliant Stephen King is until I heard his books read aloud, that they are scary campfire stories that benefit from being told, rather than read. I've also mentioned how having listened to King read one of his own books made me realize how his stories are written using his voice not just in a sense of the author’s voice, but the actual way he talks. McLarty is the closest to King’s voice that isn’t King’s I have heard and makes it that much easier to get pulled into the story, existing only in some otherworldly realm consisting of his voice and the pictures in your head.
King has always excelled at pushing the subconscious, primal buttons. Not just Dracula, but dogs that turn on you, cars that develop a personality. Clowns. Yes, I've read your comments and I agree wholeheartedly. I've never liked clowns. They freak me out. Pennywise in It is one of the best/worst). However, given how much I adore rediscovering Stephen King, I'm tempted to read almost everything else he’s written all over again, except this time by listening to them. And undoubtedly do halfway-through reviews of several.
  

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