Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger

Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
April 5, 2013 Constant Readers

Hello, and welcome to Mid-Earth or Mid-World or something like that, Stephen King’s most totally fucked world yet. It’s also the world that pretty much everything he’s ever written ties into one way or another.

In the beginning, all we know is that a gunslinger named Roland is following a man in black who is NOT Johnny Cash across a desert. We don’t know it yet, but this world is falling apart for various reasons. Also, reality itself is crumbling. Oh boy.

It was only a matter of time before shitbird came up.Pat: This is like you’re Roland, and I’m Walter, because I know everything that’s going to happen, and you’re just a dude who needs a shave and a bath.
Andrea: Let me just start by asking, are they in an apocalyptic future or an alternative universe or a rip in the space time continuum or what?
Pat: Did you miss the part where they said that was going on? AND THEN EXPLAINED HOW THE DARK TOWER WORKS?
Andrea: Maybe?
Pat: Let me respond by saying, “Who said all of those possibilities were mutually exclusive?”
Andrea: Got it.
Pat: As Walter o’ Dim said, the Dark Tower is the nexus of SIZE, more than anything else; the whole scale of existence, from our universe to the blade of purple grass our universe may be an atom inside.
Andrea: Because like, Jake seemed to be from the past while Roland didn’t even know what drugs were.
Pat: Jake is technically from the now.
The kind of brilliant thing King is doing here is that time isn’t all that important. It exists all at once, and it’s size and number that matter.
Andrea: It blew my mind, maaaaaan.
Pat: Christ, by, what it is it, book five, Wolves Of The Calla, Father Calahan appears. From motherfucking Salem’s Lot.
Andrea: Oh man!!
So let’s start from the beginning
Pat: It’s insane. You will be a dried out husk when you finish this.
This is like you’re Roland, and I’m Walter, because I know the whole thing.
Andrea: With an old wrinkled dug. SHOUT OUT to Roadwork.
Pat: Choke on a thousand dicks.
Andrea: What was with the “Hey Jude” references throughout?
Maybe in 1982 it wasn’t such a song that nobody ever wanted to hear again.
Pat: It’s the bleed of the worlds breaking down. Or the barriers between them. I think he mentions that there are places where the membrane of the world has become thin.
So as the world moves on, things bleed through.
Andrea: There is sort of a similar idea in 11/22/63.
Pat: Well, yeah, everything he writes seems to have some connection with The Dark Tower.
Andrea: I thought it was really well written, in stark contrast to that piece of shit The Running Man.
Pat: There’s only one point where he uses a word that makes NO SENSE within the context and tone of the book.
Andrea: Which is?
Pat: Roland thinks something about being “acrophobic.”
Andrea: OH! I noticed that.Shitty world keeps on being shitty. Roland judges that he’s gaining on The Man In Black because his fires are warmer when the gunslinger finds them. If you’re not uncomfortable enough at the oddness of the setting, Roland meets a homesteader named Brown with a freak-ass talking bird, who he breaks bread with. They’re eating Roland’s DEAD DONKEY, because, uh, Westerns?

Andrea: Do mules just drop dead if you ride them too much? That question was really bothering me.
Pat: Was he riding the mule? Or just using it as a pack animal?
Andrea: I thought he was riding it. But I’m not totally sure.
Pat: Either way, yes. Especially through a damn desert. Why do I have to answer such retarded questions?
Andrea: I am a woman of curiosity.

Brown gets Roland to talk about his SUPERBADTIME in the town of Tull while they’re chowing down on some donkey meat. Tull is the place where he met Allie, the Bartender Roland Is Bound To Fuck I Mean Let’s Be Honest Here Folks, and Sheb, the piano-player who only plays “Hey Jude.” He definitely bangs Allie. They have a THING together. They are both TOUGH in this TOUGH WORLD, but we see they are capable of TENDERNESS. By “tenderness,” we mean “KNOCKIN’ BOOTS.” Tull also happens to be the town were he ends up KILLING LITERALLY EVERY FUCKING PERSON. Whoops, Roland.

Andrea: So he tells the weird farmer the Tull story, and then the crow eats his dead mule’s eyeballs.
Pat: This is the whole fucking series, more or less, this kind of, “WE’RE HERE” thing, like Roland chasing the man in black, but we don’t really know why or even where we are, and then it’s, “OH HEY LET ME TELL YOU A STORY TOTALLY NOT IN CURRENT TIME.”
But the vagueness works. It works really well, I think.
Andrea: Yes. I found it captivating.
Pat: Roland and the homesteader talking and interacting probably does more to set up the world the book inhabits than anything else King could have done, like just straight-up describing the world.
Andrea: I loved that part. And I loved the flashback part about Tull.
Pat: Roland has all those gold pieces he uses to pay for stuff in Tull, and everyone’s like, “I ain’t got change for that!” And Roland’s like, “I didn’t expect any! I am mysterious.”
Andrea: Oh right! That was awesome. Roland is pretty pimp.
And then Allie gave him burgers w/no bread. WTF?
Pat: Because bread is fucking rare in End World. Or whatever World they’re in. Paper, too.
Because The World Has Moved On.
Andrea: Burgers without buns does not equal romance.
Pat: The Allie romance was a little… I don’t know. Not stilted, and not clichéd, but… it seemed kind of rough-and-tumble western emptiness to it. It was like a bun-less burger.
Andrea: Well, yeah, I think it was supposed to be. He didn’t love her, she was just there although he did care about her. It bothered me that they switched back and forth between calling her Allie and Alice.
Pat: We were supposed to just take it as a given, I think. “Roland has to bang her; she has to let him. Them’s the rules.”
Andrea: Yeah. So the question is how much is predetermined and how much is free will?
Pat: Those are questions far too weighty for this book. When we’re finished the series, it’ll be up for discussion in a big way. Even in the next book, which I think is the best of the series, there’s a bit of that, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEANNNNNNNNNNNNNN?” questioning of determinism.
Andrea: Okay, Dark Tower czar.
Pat: So anyway, Tull. Sheb, the piano-player, Roland knew from way back in the old days of Gilead/New Canaan and all that shit.
Andrea: And Bert, the reanimated weed-eater? Wtf was that about?
Pat: He was dead, and Walter brought him back. While he was in Tull banging the crazy religious woman, Sylvia Pittson.
Andrea: And impregnates her, because, hey, why not?
Pat: And then Sylvia gives a sermon about the interloper and the devil and shit, calling him the lower-case “crimson king.” She’s talking about Roland, who kind of proves the point by going to her house and scrambling her uterus like an egg. Then she tells him he’s aborted the child of the Crimson King.
Which means she knew it was the child of the devil. So wtf?
Andrea: Maybe she went crazy from the horror of being impregnated by Satan?
Pat: Or maybe it was that “glammer” Roland was talkin’ about?
Andrea: What was the glammer?
Pat: Sort of like an illusion or a sheen of magic.
Andrea: Just like in the Craft! When they change each other’s hair colors!
Pat: No. Not like the Craft. Nothing is as bad as the Craft.
Andrea: You are a boner-killer.
Pat: Oh! And Walter told Allie, when he was in town, that if she said, “Nineteen” to Bert, he would reveal what he saw after death, and it would drive her mad. The number 19 comes up again and again. As well as other numbers. You’ll find out why.

Sylvia Pittson is WAY PISSED about the enforced abortion with the gun barrel thing, which, you know, good for her, even though she was carrying the Devil’s baby. She uses her FIERY SERMON POWER to rile the town up against Roland! It’s a lynch mob! He WASTES EVERYBODY™ while also stumbling upon Allie, who has lost her damn mind and become a zombie. Why? She said “nineteen” to Bert and learned what happens after death. Bozo move, Allie!

Andrea: Okay, so then he wastes everyone in Tull. Believable?
Pat: Absolutely believable. But then, I know and trust these things about Roland.

Brown is wondering if he should kill Roland. Roland is wondering if he should kill Roland. Who knows what Zoltan the Talking Shitbird is thinking. Probably the thoughts of a shitbird.

Andrea: I was also thinking things like, “Oh man, if I was on a quest to catch my evil supernatural nemesis, I would be totally pissed about having to eat gross things all the time.”
Pat: You would not save the universe, because at some point, you’d have to eat eggs or die, and so you would die.
Andrea: snort
Pat: I enjoyed the mental chess Roland had to play to decide whether or not to kill Brown before he left.
Andrea: Definitely. And I liked the story-within-a-story-structure he uses.
Pat: Roland’s based on Clint Eastwood’s character in the Spaghetti Westerns, but he has a kind of internal depth that Blondie doesn’t have.

Then Roland is back on the road again! Except, you know, not a road. Just lots of desert. Again. He comes across a WAY STATION! This section of the book is totally called “The Way Station.” Way to go, Stevie!

Pat: So Roland makes it to the way station and meets Jake, who just woke the fuck up in Mid-World or End-World or whatever, with no memory of how he got there or what he was doing before. And motherfucking Roland knows this might be yet another trap the man in black left for him, like he did in Tull.
Andrea: Oh man. When he hypnotizes Jake to remember his old life, that was my favorite part of the book.
Pat: That world is concurrent with Roland’s. All worlds are. So it’s not old, really.
Andrea: WHATEV
You know what I’m talking about.

The long and short of it: Jake’s dad works for a television network in New York City! Our New York! The one right over here! He goes to boarding school and is generally ignored by his rich-ass parents, which further proves that this reality is the same as our reality. We find out Jake’s ass gets splatted by a car driven by a dude who looks a lot like our Man In Black, Walter. This is because it is TOTALLY HIM.

Pat: It’s a nice mechanism for putting Roland’s world into perspective, though, reading about all the things he does and doesn’t understand about Jake’s story.
Pat: And Walter being the one who pushes Jake in front of the car illuminates all kinds of shit about what Walter can do.
Andrea: Right. That section was really important.
Pat: That was poignant, what you just said.

Another mechanism? We flash right the fuck back to Roland’s childhood, too, in the magical realm of New Canaan in the city of Gilead. Or some such Biblically related shit. Back then, Roland was just a punk-ass kid with punk-ass friends who would steal food from the castle kitchens and watch hangings in the square. Roland’s dad is the king! His mother is not the king, because that’s not how gendered monarchies work. She is the queen! Also: Walter is around. Except he’s Marten at the time, which infuriates Roland because he’s probably enchanting and banging his mother and anyway who the fuck smells “Martin” that way?

Pat: You don’t much of what happened when Walter was Marten in this book. Except that he was a dick and was fucking and possibly enchanting Roland’s mom.
Andrea: That weird scene at the ball or whatever where they are dancing and being sort of scandalous was creepy as fuck.
Pat: Not sure when they get around to mentioning how many other names Walter has besides Marten.
Perhaps you’d like to hazard a guess as to what one of those other names is?
Pat: No, although Pennywise and the turtle Maturin are all kinds of wrapped up in the Dark Tower. Particularly, the beams, which you know nothing about. Although they’re mentioned in Hearts In Atlantis, right? With the Breakers? WHO SERVE THE CRIMSON KING, BEE TEE FUCKING DUB?
Andrea: So what is the name?
Pat: FLAGG, motherfucker.
Andrea: OH duh, I knew that

Anyhow, back in the way station, something is calling Roland from the basement. A creepy voice giving him prophecies and warnings, like any good basement will do if you hire the right contractor. Roland punches the stupid wall because it’s stupid and ROLAND ANGRY. He finds a fucking jawbone in the wall, which is why you should always hire UNION labor.

Pat: What was the prophecy the jawbone gave?
Andrea: I don’t know?
Pat: If I had that jawbone right now, I would ask it why you suck.
Andrea: Lots of reasons
Pat: The jawbone says, “While you travel with the boy, the man in black travels with your soul in his pocket.”
Andrea: Hm. Does that mean something to you based on future books? I mean, it seems to mean that Roland has no choice
Pat: Uh, did you read this book? It refers to this book.
Pat: Later, when he wants to just turn back and not bother with the pursuit anymore, so he can save Jake, who he loves dearly by then?
Andrea: Right, but to me it seemed like he couldn’t do that because the Man In Black is the puppet master.
Pat: He isn’t. As he explains later, he’s just doing the bidding of the Crimson King. And Roland serves Ka. Which is just fate.

Roland doesn’t listen to the stupid fucking jawbone because jawbone don’t know his people, jawbone don’t know how Roland lives. Bleached-ass jawbone motherfucker. So he takes Jake with him as he follows Walter towards these mountains. In the mountains, there is a stone circle, an oracle, that is the home and prison of a SUPER HORNY FOREST SPIRIT. It lures Jake from their camp one night and tries to ghost-bang him, but Roland saves the day (night), although the kid still ends up all fucked up in the head.

This is around about the time that Roland thinks it might be a good idea to take mescaline. Why? Because he’s going to go to the oracle and ask it some questions about his quest, about the boy, about the Dark Tower. Oh! He’s also going to fuck the oracle.

Andrea: Then Roland takes mescaline (????) and leaves Jake alone for days.
Pat: That was DAYS?
I thought it was just that night. So he can go to the Oracle that tried to fuck Jake.
Andrea: It was like a day and a half.
Pat: Well, whatever. Clearly, it was a normalish thing for Roland, and the mescaline was thought of as a medicine that helped lubricate the conductors that let a person commune with the dead or the supernatural. Nothing particularly out-of-sorts there.
Could’ve been a really fucked up chapter from a Carlos Castenada book.
Was your issue that he left the kid alone?
Andrea: Well yeah, and that the kid had no idea when he was coming back. That gave me major anxiety.
Pat: This is a kid who, when he died, was simply pulled into another universe. I think you can unclench your anxious mother butthole.
Andrea: I meant, if it was me, I would be anxious! It has nothing to do with mothering!
Pat: So the oracle tells him stuff. She is super horny for his corporeal dick.
Andrea: Yes. She sure is.
Pat: No problems with that?
Andrea: No, not really. Why, was this something you flagged that I’d be up in arms about?
Pat: Totally.
Also, I figured the last thing he said to her would end up in the pantheon of such great lines as, “He didn’t know about hygiene, but she sure knew oral” and “Where’d you learn to do that?” “Girl Scouts.”
Andrea: What was it? I didn’t take notes because I read this so freaking fast.
Pat: “I am sworn.”
“Then you are damned.”
“Have your way with me, bitch.”
Andrea: Ah yes.

Roland and Jake are like RIGHT ON WALTER’S TAIL, and run into him near a huge rise in the mountains. Walter is high up in a way that Roland can’t get a shot off at him. But also in a way that Walter can shout down to them about how he’ll meet them on the other side. Well, not them, really.

Pat: It’s worth mentioning that when they see the man in black up on the precipice or whatever of that rock face, Roland fires instinctively and can’t hit him.
Andrea: Is the man in black invincible? I wondered that the whole time. And if so, why chase him?
Pat: He’s dead at the end of the book, so obviously not.
Granted, I can’t remember if he’s actually dead or if that’s a trick. I’ve reread the first four books at least four times each, and yet the details get fuzzy immediately after I put them down.
Andrea: I had the impression that it’s a trick
Pat: Probs. I don’t remember.

Walter disappears into the mountain. Or maybe he hops over it, we really don’t know in what way Walter rolls. He leaves Roland and Jake to scale the rest of the mountain and, eventually, enter it. Since the fuckers can’t see anything and Stephen King has nothing to describe, Roland tells Jake about his childhood back in Gilead. Cue time warp music!

Pat: We are in Gilead, where the people are in need of your opinions, because we’ve said too many good things about the book thus far and praise makes for a thin broth.
Andrea: Okay, remind my old lady Charly brain what happens in Gilead. Was that where he encountered the slow mutants?
Pat: No, that was a place called “inside a fucking mountain.”
Gilead is where Roland hails from. Also know as New Canaan or something.
Andrea: OH so that was the childhood flashback part.
Pat: Well, the flashbacks to Gilead run through the whole book.
Andrea: Roland was trained from a teenager to be a gunslinger right?
Pat: From way younger. Although not to be a gunslinger, technically, since he was training to be a badass, and THEN when he proved himself, he got to get guns.
And train to use them.
Andrea: I wish I got badass training.
Pat: You would have failed.
And been sent West. Or East, which it was.
Andrea: Oh like you are badass!
Pat: I was a Boy Scout, lady.
Andrea: Since when does Boy Scout equal badass?
Do you live on a different planet?
Pat: That was a joke. You are awful.
Andrea: I hope you BE PREPARED to catch fire.
Andrea: He sees his friend slaughtered.
Pat: His friend gets slaughtered?
Andrea: I meant the cook gets hanged.
I’m telling you, my short term memory is shot.
Pat: Then Roland and his buddy Cuthbert go watch the hanging, and it’s an Important Life Moment, and we learn that Roland Is Sort Of Becoming A Man (?).
And he takes a splinter off of the gallows? For some luck reason?
Andrea: Yes. This book is full of symbols and talismans of that sort.
Pat: Oh, and Roland’s mom. Enchanted by Marten? We get into that way deeper a few books down the road, but I wanted to see how you felt about the background of Roland’s youth, the whole kingdom-falling-apart thing.
Andrea: I think it was probably a very strange position for him to be in. It seemed like his family was wealthy and powerful, and he was literally watching that fall apart before his eyes, PLUS watching his mom bump and grind with Marten.
Pat: Did you get that Steven Deschain is basically king of Gilead?
Andrea: NOPE.
I don’t get anything. I never make those kind of connections. Is this the result of pot smoking in my teenage years?
Pat: It might not be specifically mentioned that he’s king, or that there even is a king in Gilead, which there might not be, but SK does talk about how Roland’s ancestry dates back to Arthur Eld, who was basically that world’s version of King Arthur, if not the actual King Arthur. So Gilead is ruled BY the line of Eld, at least, who are all gunslingers.
Andrea: Is there any way I could have gotten that out of reading this book? Or are you imparting knowledge you gleaned from future books
Pat: You could have gotten it from reading those things in the book, where they were said in letters and words and phrases and sentences.
Andrea: OMG
Pat: OYG what?
Andrea: I don’t know how I missed so much.
Pat: Because you’re a shitbrick.
And a shitbird.
Andrea: It was only a matter of time before shitbird came up.
Pat: Well, now you know. But did you get the whole world-is-falling-apart thing around about the time when Roland took his test? Rebellions in the west and whatnot?
Andrea: Yes, totally.
What I didn’t really connect was how he got from that part to the man in black quest.
Like I wasn’t clear on how/why that started. Is it just because it was his destiny?
Pat: It has to do with the Walter/Marten connection, but I can’t remember what it is.
Andrea: Okay. so am I alone in thinking THIS BOOK WAS KINDA CONFUSING?
Pat: I think that’s intentional though, not lazy storytelling, because it fits with the weird way that time is breaking down.
Andrea: I was able to overlook the confusing stuff because I figured it was intentional/would be explained in a later part of the saga.
Pat: It is, for the most part. Actually, for the whole part.
Andrea: And because one of the blurbs on the cover said something about you won’t even care about the unanswered questions it leaves.
So every time I encountered something confusing, I was like, “OH HEY UNANSWERED QUESTION.”
Pat: That’s a pretty clever way to mollify readers, that tagline.
Andrea: it was a blurb not a tagline
Pat: You know what I mean. So you were just confused about how the flashback to Roland’s youth led to his quest?
Andrea: Yes
Pat: I think you’re given enough, knowing by the end that Walter was Marten and something must’ve happened to make Roland chase him for ten years.
Andrea: It was enough that I wanted to read more, not to toss it aside in frustration.

Roland is so superpissed at his mom and Marten that he decides to take the test way earlier than anyone has before. Which is totally what Marten is going for, since if Roland fails the gunslinger test, the kid goes into exile. Imagine that! 14 year old Roland, in exile and all emo without his guns. What a boner! His teacher, Cort, tells him to remember his father’s face, which people are always doing in Gilead because they’re kind of creepy, and warns Roland not to take the test. Because, you know, he’s too young. NO ONE THAT YOUNG HAS EVER PASSED. So naturally, Roland passes! BECAUSE HE IS EXTRAORDINARY, WHAT, YOU THOUGHT STEPHEN KING WOULD WRITE A NOVEL ABOUT A DUDE WHO SUCKS? Roland SO VERY MUCH DOESN’T suck in his fight with Cort: he uses his pet hawk, David, to blind and confuse Cort and shred the crap out of his face. Cort beats the hawk half to death with his big stick, but man, this fight is over because that bird fucked Cort’s shit up. He was a dick anyway. Roland, get your guns!

By the way, Roland and Jake are still in the mountains, where they run into Slow Mutants (mutants who are SLOW in both senses; also: they glow?) and artifacts from a pretty ancient seeming railroad company. It is still way dark down there, you know. Except for the glowing mutants.

Pat: Did you get all the weird implications of the slow mutants and the glowing shit and weird Northern Positronics technology?
Andrea: I mean, I got that there were weird implications.
Pat: People in Roland’s world were, at some point, nuclear.
Andrea: That’s what I thought
Pat: In the third book, “The Wastelands” refers to actual radioactive wastelands. Presumably caused by nuclear weapons. It’s never made entirely clear that I can remember. Or whether that’s bleeding over from our world into his, the nuclear thing, or if that world had developed nuclear power itself. I think the latter, based on Wolves Of The Calla.
They get attacked by the Slow Mutants eventually and of course. Roland dispatches them because HE IS A GUNSLINGER ARE YOU EVEN PAYING ATTENTION? Then two things happen almost simultaneously: Jake is dangling from the tracks after a mishap, and Walter shows up again, taunting Roland about the choice he now has to make between catching him and saving Jake. Dude almost sort of nearly kind of considers saving Jake! Which would’ve been a dick move because then Stephen King would’ve been shafted out of at least five other books to write!

But Jake makes the decision for him, uttering one of the coolest lines in the series: “Go then, there are other worlds than these.” Fuck yes there are! He’ll probably wake up in one of those other worlds because, let’s be honest, his track records where dying is concerned sucks big time.

Bye Jake!

Pat: Were you sad when Jake bit it?
Andrea: Yup. It was so weird cause they made it sound like he was floating in space.
Pat: He’s strangely likable from the very beginning.
But that was the only glossed-over thing for me. Roland has a deep affection for the boy very quickly, and King describes it in a very ham-fisted way. Basically he keeps saying, “Roland loved the boy, he knew suddenly” or hokey shit like that
Andrea: He’s totally likeable.
Pat: I think that makes King overstating Roland’s affection for Jake a mistake.
Andrea: Why, because he’s so likable that it doesn’t need to be overstated?
Pat: Yeah, you’re going to get that Roland is becoming attached to Jake just through their interactions, through Roland questioning the point of going on if it means sacrificing this kid. There’s no need to be like, “But Roland loved the child.”
Duh, we get it. Show, don’t tell.
That’s probably the only negative thing I can say about this book.
Andrea: Exactly. SK needs fiction 101 although, that was the only sour note in the book to me.
Pat: So, he chooses to go on and leave Jake to fall to his death.
Although… no, I shouldn’t say.

Roland makes it to the other side of the mountain, where Walter is waiting for him. Walter makes some weird-ass fires and tells Roland about how the Dark Tower works, how it’s the NEXUS OF ALL SIZE, NOT REALLY TIME, MAN THIS WEED IS GOOD BRO, and then does a Tarot reading for Roland, which basically sets up The Drawing Of The Three, the next book in the series. SPOILER ALERT: IN THAT BOOK, ROLAND DRAWS THREE. Just like in the Tarot deck! Basically, Walter says here’s the journey ahead of you, hope no fucking lobstrocities fuck you up at the beginning of the next book. He even does a planetarium show that nearly explodes Roland’s head! It’s a lot of WHAT IF WE’RE AN ATOM IN A BLADE OF PURPLE GRASS IN A WORLD OF GIANTS talk that is only cool if you read it yourself and not in a snappy summary on a blog, you bozos. Walter is saying, look, dude, you are so ridiculously small. You don’t matter. Give up.

And Roland’s like, nah, dude, don’t you know how heroes’ stories go? The fuck, man. So Walter knocks Roland out with MAGICKS.

How long does he sleep? Well, he’s older by about ten years. Oh, and there’s a skeleton wearing Walter’s black robes. It’s been a while. So Roland goes to the beach on the other side of the mountain and thinks about things, like any gunslinger would do when he’s about to embark on the next leg of an EPIC ADVENTURE or possible before he STARS IN A SUMMER’S EVE COMMERCIAL.

Pat: By the way, I have never had a very good grasp on the geography in this series. Hhe moves on from the mountains, and there’s an ocean which, for the life of me, has never made sense because it’s on the wrong side.
Andrea: Oh, I don’t even think about that stuff. I have a terrible grasp of the geography of our world, let alone a freaking magical made up universe.
Pat: Well, then you’ll be fine. There are no good maps of the world online, either.
I almost hyphenated “on-line” like I’m 80 years old.
Andrea: Did you find it on the Googles?

Bye Roland!

Pat: So at some point, when we finish this series, I’m going to point out a few lines in Gunslinger that tell us King knew how it would end from the beginning.
Andrea: Did your version have the afterword where he says that he doesn’t know?
Pat: Yeah, well, the words in the fucking book tell me he knew. Unquestionably. Or he went back, read this book, and said, “Oh shit, I got this motherfucker wrapped up now.”
Andrea: And he says he’s planning for it to be 6,000 pages.
Pat: Doesn’t he say something like, “If you think that’s ambitious, ask your English teacher about Chaucer’s plans for The Canterbury Tales“?
Andrea: Yup! Do you think SK is a genius?
Pat: Of course I think he’s a genius. People will talk about King in a hundred years the way we talk about Dickens now.
Or perhaps Jules Verne.
A bad-ass, super-prolific Jules Verne
Andrea: Or perhaps Lovecraft or Bradbury?
Pat: Bradbury is contemporary, though.
Andrea: Sorta.
Pat: We have no way of knowing how he’ll be viewed in a hundred years. I like to think he’ll be lionized and beloved. But King will definitely be a literary monolith.
Andrea: Anyway, I really liked this book, even though it confused me sometimes.
Pat: I suspect that, of all the things in this book you very likely could have hated, the Gilead stuff would be the prime candidate for hatred.
Andrea: Yeah, it wasn’t my favorite.
Pat: I never figured I’d get all-caps enthusiasm out of you with a Dark Tower book.
Andrea: It was a page turner!
Pat: This may be the actual moment that fractures reality and sends Roland off to fix the Dark.