I am constantly reading. Mostly fiction. But just about anything that captures my interest. It’s almost as if I can’t not read, you know. I go from finishing one book to immediately starting another. Often I’ll be in the midst of more than one book at a time, and I’ll jump back and forth from one book to another to another to…. until I get really hooked into just one. I liked to focus on just one book at at time. However, sometimes I won’t be able to choose. It’s usually between two, sometimes three but usually no more than that. And I can never be sure what books it will be. Could be one I’ve never read or even heard of before or one that I’ve been meaning to read for some time or one that I’d started previously but never finished or one that I’ve already read, perhaps even more than once.
That is the situation I find myself in now. I’m toggling back and forth between a book that I’ve read before and one that I’ve been meaning to read for some times.
The book that I’ve read before is Stephen King’s The Stand.
I’ve actually read two and a half times. The first time was I believe the summer of 89, the summer just before I left to go away to college at Eastern Michigan University. I remember loving it, not being able to put it down. And ever since I’ve had a thing for post-apocalyptic fiction. The second time I read it was when it re-released in it’s unedited form. The original paperback edition that I read (pictured above) was just over 800 pages. The re-issue was something like 1,200 pages. Also it was supposedly updated for timeliness. The 1/2 time I read it was a few years ago when I tried picking it up again but it did not hold my interest all the way through. Not sure why. This time, though, which was just this past week, I’m hooked into again, although not exactly like I was the first time I read it,which was just for the thrill of it. Now, I think maybe this could be King’s most significant novel. Maybe it don’t quality as a great American novel, but I think it can be said to be a significant American novel. Or maybe with global warming and the fear of an impending apocalypse of some sort it seems timely again. In any case, it has the rare quality of being a big book that does not read like a big book. It clips right along and nothing feels extraneous. I’m digging it once again, and don’t see any reason why I won’t read it through to the end this time.
Something I never would have admitted in my younger days was how much of an influence Stephen King has been on me and my writing generally, and the Stand specifically. I considered him too “popular” to be taken seriously. But I’ve since changed my mind. Rereading King I can see how he’s influenced the way I right, especially the pop culture and Americana references. I used to try to quell my impulse to put pop culture into my writing after it was pointed out in a workshop I was in that my pop culture references might not be a good thing. Writing workshops can do more harm than good. Anyway, I’ve long since put that behind me. Often King himself is a pop culture reference in my writing, and The Stand speficially. A piece I’m finishing a draft of now references The Stand, along with Ray Bradbury and Cormac McCarthy and The Road.
The other book that I’m reading it Nevermind Nirvana, by Mark Lindquist.
This is a book thatI’ve been wanting to read for some time. I remember coming across it in the bookstore. I noticed it because of course the cover looked like the Nirvana album cover. Not sure why I didn’t buy a copy at at the time. Actually, I think I may have not only been off the the whole GenX thing at the time but I was purposely shunning it, sort of rolling my eyes at it as it were. But some time ago I cam across a used copy and put it on the shelf with the other books that I intend to read some day.
Reading it now it really strikes a chord; there’s an idea I have for a story, perhaps even a novel, that is very GenX. But not about young 20-somethingers bar hopping and getting laid and doing drugs in the 80s blah blah blah. I tried that one and it never really came together. The one I’m thinking of is about GenX at 40-something, or at least about one GenXer at the age of 42, who suddenly find himself unemployed, living his parents and divorced. Sound familiar? Gee. I wonder where I got that idea from. But who knows if it’ll ever get written. None of my other novel ideas have….
In the mean time, I can’t seem to focus on just one of these two book. So I may end up reading them in parallel until I finish at least one of them.
In any case, I’m going to get back to reading now.