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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Stephen King Book #11: Danse Macabre. 3/5

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Book #11. Danse Macabre.
First published April 20, 1981.

Danse Macabre was a book that I had never read until the past couple of weeks. The main reason for this was that I have never owned a copy of the book, nor found one readily available in book shops, nor in any library I had been a member of. When it came to tracking down a copy for this journey I still had no joy in finding a copy with a friend or a book shop or the library. So I began to search online and, bugger me, there I found a site that hosted a pdf copy of the entire book, just sitting there waiting for me to read it. Thus I could progress.

For those not in the know, this is a non-fiction book by King focusing on the horror genre in written, radio, TV and movie form. In it he speaks of his experiences with the genre throughout, and of those parts that he thinks made important contributions not only to his own works but to those around him who also influenced himself and others. And in this respect, although there are places within the pages that are interesting, the majority tends to be a bit of a hard slog. This is for no other reason except that this was published in 1981, and concentrates on an era when he himself grew up. This being the case a lot of his source material, both books and filmed, are of an era that is not as widely known in this day and age as it would have been then. Some of it is, the most popular in essence, but only the hardest core readers and watchers of this era of works will be sure of exactly what he talks about. Much of it I have not been exposed to, especially when it comes to those horror films of his youth.

I thoroughly enjoyed his dissection and comparison in Chapter 2 – Tales of the Tarot – of three seminal works. His thoughts in regards to Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” and the three monsters who are the title characters is entertaining and thoughtful. It discusses them in detail, as well as how they have been the flag bearers for those duplicates that have come since, as well as the many and varied interpretations. Indeed within those three creations can be found much of what followed in many varied forms.
The other sections of the book are informative, but only as much as you find any interest in them. While I felt like I was trudging through a snowdrift at time such was the difficulty in making progress, there was more than enough interesting dissection of the different sections to keep you moving forward.

So while this is a book that has some interesting passages, as a non-fiction book it is not like his novels, where we get the characters and the story and we are taken along for a ride. Instead we have a handbook, a basis for which to explore the media of the genre if you are so disposed to do so. I’m sure that sometime in the future I will in fact use some of this to explore on my own. And though it is interesting it is unlikely to be a book that you return to with love. It is a book you will return to for information, and then place back on that bookshelf under “K” for King, and then grab the next book along.

Rating: For the reference section. 3/5

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