Saturday, July 19, 2008


Reading through my reviews, you'd probably never guess Stephen King is undisputedly my favorite contemporary author. Not long ago, a friend of mine asked me that very question. I didn't hesitate to answer and his response was, "Oh, you like that dark side."
That's not necessarily the case.
Yes, King has written some very macabre books, but he's also penned many that aren't really horror -- in fact, I wouldn't classify most of his books as such. Whether it's a so-called horror novel, a thriller or just a plain story, King is the master. (Read "The Stand" if you disagree.)
No one can pen words like that man nor does anyone have the imagination.
"Blaze" was actually one of the first books he wrote. It was under his pseudonym (or other personality, as he is apt to say) of Richard Bachman. Originally written in 1973, it was never published, boxed up and put on a shelf. It was the last of the Bachman books. After that, King went on to write "Carrie" and the rest, as they say, is history.
King brought the book out of storage, did some rewriting and published it in 2007.
It definitely has the flavor of the Bachman books, which have a little different style than the novels he publishes under his own name. Even with that, any King fan will admit that it is a King book, too.
This is the story of a man who was born a genius. Indeed, he would have classified as a phenom -- if his father hadn't thrown him down the stairs, bashing his skull and destroying his intelligence. Instead, he grows up in an orphanage (of course, the state takes him away from the man who nearly killed him), where he falls under additional abuse from a director who is cruel and loves to wield the stick.
Blaze is now classified as mentally deficient ("retarded," in other words). He falls in with the wrong crowd, ends up in prison and, when he gets out, becomes best friends with a hoodlum-type. They share future plans for doing the one crime that will set them up for life. With the money they can make from that one crime, they can go to a place where it's warm year-round and retire to a life of leisure.
After his friend is killed, Blaze decides to go ahead with their plans. Unfortunately, they are rather complicated as they involve kidnapping the infant son of one of the area's richest families. That may seem like quite an undertaking for someone with limited reasoning skills, but not to worry. His friend will still be helping him. How? Blaze hears him talking and can vaguely make out his form. A ghost? His imagination? Hmmm?
Well, Blaze kidnaps little Joe and, of course, falls in love with this 6-month-old child who doesn't call him names and smiles so warmly at him. Joe laughs at his jokes and snuggles up to his neck.
His plans now change. It's still take the money and run, but he's going to keep Joe for his own. He imagines what it will be like watching Joe grow up.
That's all I can say about the book without revealing the story to those who haven't read it yet. It's a great book and King adds that twist at the end readers have come to expect.
Don't ever think you've figured out a King novel. There's always a surprise ending and "Blaze" is no exception.
I loved it!

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