|Submitted by Chaz colbert |
(Sep 05, 2007)
The stand is, by and large, considered King's Magnum Opus. I don't necessarily agree with that, but it is definitely his most ambitous work. Its part apocalypse, part prophecy, part Horror, part Epic, part Fantasy, part social commentary, and part massive character study. It is best of all, though, vintage King. It concerns a deadly plague and its after-affects; mainly survival and the rise of an evil entity known as Randall Flagg or the Drak Man.
The characters are vivd, diverse, and life-like; its really quite remarkable how well he crafts all different types of people. The huge bevy of charactes include: Stu Redman, a character that could have very easily been another cheesy all-american hero, but King gives him depth and a heart. Larry Underwood(whose story I find most moving) a self-centered music artist who, due to circumstance, discovers his humanity. Frannie Goldsmith, a confused and preagnant young woman. Harold Lauder, a young man whose anger and hate drives him ot ruin. Nick Andros, a deaf and mute man who rises above anything he would have thought possible. Loyd, a petty crook who becomes the right hand of evil. The Trashcan Man,(my personal fav. character) a nobody who becomes the Dark Man's psychopathic implement of death. Mother Abigal, an extremely old woman who pulls together the survivors. And, of course, the Dark Man, an evil man who is not truly a man at all.
The book deals with some pretty heavy stuff. At its very core, its an epic old-fashioned story of Good vs. Evil. But King mixes in religion, science, social angst, and philosophy in, to make a novel that is rich, diverse, powerful, moving, and truly disturbing; it is a true masterpiece of modern american literature. I highly recommend.
|Submitted by Brett |
(May 15, 2007)
King has commented, perhaps half-serious, that The Stand is usually the favorite book of his fans, and that there are a number of them who think that he could've died in 1979 (after publishing it), without any serious loss. In all seriousness, though, The Stand, along with the novel It, is generally considered one of King's best works.
For any fans of King (and original readers too), one of the more original aspects of this novel is that King diverges from his traditional setting, which usually consists of one of several small towns in Maine (namely, Derry, Castle Rock, and Jerusalem's Lot). Instead, he makes the story cover the whole expanse of the United States, with the countryside composing the setting for nearly half of the novel. Perhaps less originally, King sets up the novel as 'post-apocalyptic', in a world where 99% of the population has been annihilated by a virus called the super-flu or 'Captain Trips', and the survivors struggle to rebuild and regroup.
However, this is no ordinary apocalyptic tale like that of Alas Babylon. King merges degrees of apocalyptic sci-fi and horror in a story that doesn't fit into any clear genre. This is set in a kind of Manichaean magical framework, a kind of war of light against dark, between the forces drawing around a dark, authoritarian man (who is no man at all) in Las Vegas, and an unusual, almost prophet-like old woman in Nebraska (later Boulder, Colorado). The mood puts one in mind of the famous poem by William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming". This characterizes much of the plot, which consists of the characters being drawn to one side or another from different destinations and backgrounds, until the final confrontation to decide humanity's fate in a clash of light and dark occurs.
Between Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg (the old woman and the Dark Man, respectively, who lie at opposite poles of light and dark), are many characters, drawn along separate paths to one 'pole' or the next. Near Flagg is Lloyd Henry, a small-time crook who is forced to sell his soul and undeveloped capabilities for his survival, becoming Flagg's right hand man in Las Vegas; and the 'Trashcan' Man, who represents a nihilistic destructive force that is ultimately beyond even Flagg's control.
Fran Goldsmith, the main female protagonist, lies at the figurative 'center' of the tale, between the character Stu Redman (an 'everyman' who seems to embody practical wisdom and compassion), and Harold Lauder (a petty intellectual who is haunted by his status as a 'loser' in the pre-apocalyptic world), with great ramifications for the plot when both desire Fran. Accompanying Stu is Glen Bateman, an intellectual in opposition to Harold, who presents insights into the greater world (the condition of humanity post-plague, for example), and who frequently helps define the nature of the world in which the characters travel.
Travelling separately is Larry Underwood, a singer and songwriter who's final production of a famous song results in little because of the coming of Captain Trips. He represents a kind of positive re-forging of character in the stress, as he changes from a background plagued by debt and drugs, to one of several heroic figures. He is accompanied by Nadine Cross, who, similarly to Fran, sits as a kind of 'center' that results in major consequences, for good or ill.
Finally, among the cast of major characters, there is Nick Andros, the unlikeliest of leaders (a deaf-mute drifter who begins the novel by being violently beaten by a group of unruly men in a town he's passing through). He is accompanied by Tom, a mentally retarded man who becomes an important player in events later on, and Ralph, who is a real nice guy who becomes one of the leaders in Boulder, Colorado.
While the plot,characters, and setting combine to create a rich tapestry in this novels, that does not mean that the novel is without flaws. The novel is very long, and there are a number of parts where King takes an extraordinarily long time to describe the entire background of a character, which can significantly slow the novel down. Moreover, he takes a number of times to do 'side' parts where he describes the actions of side characters with no relevance to the greater plot, which, while it may help create a sense of scale in the novel, also detracts page space from the development of the main characters, and usually has no effect on the greater plot.
Overall, however, I would rank this a definite read. King varies in quality throughout his work, and this work lies at the crest of his working career.