The Book Pile – 01/04/2021

It took me a long time to pick up a book this year. I just didn’t have the motivation to. A mixture of not sleeping, work and lockdown had gotten to me and reading was the last thing I wanted to do. Then Later by Stephen King arrived, which I had ordered way back when the book was first announced. It was a nice surprise as I had forgotten about it. I started reading it while waiting for dinner to be cooked and felt like I was back home.

After Later, I decided to continue my challenge of reading of every Stephen King book. The next on the list was The Bachman Books. Really 3 books that King wrote under the name Richard Bachman. The Long Walk, Roadwork and The Running Man. I didn’t know much about these books before reading. I knew the premise of The Long Walk and I had heard of The Running Man, mostly because of the film though. There is also a 4th book, Rage, which isn’t in modern collections of The Bachman Books, removed by King due to the nature of the plot, a school shooting. I have read Rage, a little while ago, borrowing my mum’s copy of it and enjoyed it.

The Long Walk is about 100 young men who have taken up the challenge of walking, continuously, without break until every one of them falls. If they stop for 30 seconds they get a warning, 3 warnings and the next time they get a bullet. It takes an hour to remove a warning. This is in a similar vain to The Hunger Games or Battle Royale. When I started reading, the writer inside me almost panicked. What is supposed to happen while they all walk, not much can happen. The story will run out of steam pretty quickly. Well King manages to pull it off. While I think it’s the weakest of the three and there are places where it starts to drag, it’s still an enjoyable, if forgettable, experience. There’s real tension at points and the friendship between the men on the walk does shine through. Definitely an enjoyable read.

Next up came Roadwork, which while I had mixed feelings about The Long Walk, almost as soon as I started Roadwork, I knew this was going to be one of my favourites. A road is be being built through a city and this is set to ruin Barton Dawes’ life. His home and workplace are set to be demolished and Dawes’ who is already grieving for his son, snaps and can’t take anymore. Almost straight away, the narrative shows how unstable Dawe’s is and it works really well. Even before I knew everything that was going on I was completely hooked. Like most of King’s best work, this story wasn’t about the actual plot, it was about a human emotion, grief. The devastation of losing someone so close and you really feel it. This is the one I will come back to at some point. I loved this one and near enough read it all in one day. It’s short and I would recommend this to anyone.

The final book in this collection is The Running Man. At a loss for money, Ben Richards takes part in a barbaric game show to earn enough money to get his child medical attention. He is chosen for The Running Man, where he will be hunted across the world and every hour that he survives he earns $100 for his family. Out of the 4 Bachman books that I’ve read, this one feels the least like King’s writing. It took me a few pages to actually get into it, but once I did I was hooked. It’s dark and twisted and I really wanted Ben to survive as long as possible in order to keep his daughter alive. Well worth a read.

The last book that I’ve read this month is completely different. The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride. A stream of consciousness book following Eily, a student actor studying in London and her first love with an older actor. I’m not a big fan of Stream of consciousness books, which try to mimic the chaotic nature of thought. I had to read enough of these in university to put me off. If I had known this about The Lesser Bohemians I probably wouldn’t have started reading, but as I already had it I gave it a go. By 10 pages in I was ready to give it up. I was struggling, with re-reading sections and not 100% sure on what was going on.

I then tried something, I read passages aloud and started getting a feel for the poetry in the words, once I’d read the following 6 or 7 pages out loud it started to click. I had to go back to the start and re-read parts, but it all opened up to me and ended up really enjoying the style. It feels very personal reading about this relationship in this style and it’s brought me around to trying other books in a similar style. Once I had gotten used to it, it was very gripping and I did enjoy it. I do think that overall the book is disappointing though. Take out the experimental style and there is a bare bones stories of a dangerous relationship where I didn’t feel that they belonged together. It’s volatile throughout and I wasn’t rooting for them to stay together by the end. I think it’s worth a read just to get inside the head of Eily for a short while and I will definitely be trying out other books by McBride.

At the moment I’m reading Imajica by Clive Barker. A book that I’ve had for near enough a decade and finally decided to crack open. I’m 110 pages in and enjoying it so far. It’s almost 900 pages, so it’s probably going to take a while. I’ve not read much of Barker’s work. Only The Hellbound Heart and The Scarlet Gospels. I’ve always wanted to read more and now I am.

Thanks for reading, and until next time,

Ashley

About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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