King's Highway pt. 77: Revival - a Review

Who is screenwriting our lives? Fate or coincidence?

You read it yet? 

If not, turn back now, lest ye be spoiled. (...whistles Jeopardy theme...) Still here? Okay.

First things first - when I wrote my initial reaction last Friday, I rated this one quite highly. It left a bold impression upon first read. And while I still think it's a fine piece of work, the impression faded somewhat, and I revised my rankings as a result. It dropped from being my 20th favorite King novel to my 31st. This is more a testament to the books ahead of it and less a comment on Revival. But the incursion it made onto my imagination receded a bit, the more I thought about it. 

I still think it's a strong work. In many ways, it reads better as a film than as a novel, and perhaps it'll make a great film one day, with only the problem of how to effectively portray Jamie Morton as child, adolescent, adult, and old man. (Aging the Rev is a less daunting problem.)

Let's start at the very beginning, i.e. the dedication page. At the end of a list of shout-outs, we find: 

"And (to) Arthur Machen, whose short novel The Great God Pan has haunted me all my life."

I haven't read that one. Been meaning to for years. (Here's a link to the Project Gutenberg text for it.) I only know of it because King has mentioned it from time to time as a seminal influence on his writing. My understanding is that its subject matter has a few things in common with Revival, and it would be interesting to do a compare/ contrast of the two. Maybe someday.

The official King site sums it up thusly: "A dark and electrifying novel about addiction, fanaticism, and what might exist on the other side of life." Most of that sentence makes sense to me. Not the part about addiction. I think addiction is only a very minor theme of Revival. It doesn't seem as interested in exploring the topic as it is explored, say, in The Drawing of the Three, Misery, Doctor Sleep, etc. But close enough, I guess. 

It goes on:

"This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe."

Now wait. What? Why those three authors? It's not anything at all like them. A little (and only a very little) bit of Poe, at the end, sure. But still, what? Is this a novel in the "great American tradition" whatever that is? It does span five decades, I'll give it that. 

Sometimes, the official King site confuses me.

Polish edition
For me, while the first few acts are perfectly fine, it only really kicks into overdrive once Jamie gets the letters to come to Maine for the healing of Astrid and obligation of further service to the Rev. Until that happened, I was concerned the various threads of the book weren't going to tie together. Those threads were:

- the coming of age section: learning rock and roll and his romance with Astrid.
- the may-to-December romance of Jamie and Bree.
- Jamie's heroin addiction.
- Jamie's somewhat over-principled objections to the Rev ("You may be helping some of them, but you're pissing on all of them. (...) You're taking revenge on broken people because you can't take revenge on God for taking your wife and son.") 

I want to stress these threads were perfectly fine on their own. I had no trouble reading them, and I felt invested in the drama of Jamie's life. Just, against the backdrop of The Terrible Sermon (Electric Jesus, loss of faith) the subsequent reinvention of the Rev in the Mr. Electrico-esque carny years (where the Rev cures Jamie's heroin addiction with his "secret electricity") and the development of the Charles Jacobs as a traveling healer in a revival show, I wasn't sure if any of this was just window dressing or if it would all be incorporated into a greater narrative.

I believe they were - and quite successfully. The rock and roll and Bree threads are resolved logically in the aftermath of Jacobs' last experiment, the romance with Astrid is of course the catalyst for Jamie's involvement in said experiment, and the heroin addiction (in addition to being a plot catalyst of its own) is mirrored by Jamie's antidepressants at the end. I need a story to do this sort of stuff - I can't stand loose ends. I like them to mirror each other and provide counterpoint. 

(Kev - one of my two on-the-web go-tos for all King criticism - doesn't seem to be bothered by this: "King doesn’t skimp on the details of Jamie’s life; as in the middle section of 11/22/63, Revival gives its main character time to breathe, to live. It’s not that there isn’t a sense of urgency in the book – there is, and King ratchets that up as we grow closer and closer to the finale – but Jamie is a fascinating good guy, and many of the best parts of Revival involve simply watching him grow up, dabble in music, and fall in and out of love." All of which is true, certainly. I just prefer this stuff to be in service of a novel's theme and not exist for its own good-guy/life-lived sake.)

Obviously, there is a huge difference between antidepressants and heroin, I just mean there is a symbolic resonance between the two as storytelling devices. And as we-the-reader have seen firsthand the horror that justifies Jamie's retreat into chemical neutralization, there's a subtle tragedy in this - numbed and fighting a holding action against the inevitable horrors of life and death - which serves the novel's larger theme of religious mystery and horror very well.

As for Jamie's indignation with the Rev, I was on Jacobs' side during all of those exchanges. It just felt like Jamie was being completely unreasonable. Of course, once you get to the end, keeping in mind he's telling the whole story in retrospect after everything that happens, it makes a great deal more sense.

As for that religious mystery part of it - I quite liked it. Things start off with a traditional (and well-sketched-out) homey New England faith, much like the boyhood King had himself. But the Rev is into electricity - really into it. After a Jesus-like healing of Jamie's brother, the Rev's wife and child are killed in a road accident, and the Rev becomes unhinged. (p.s. The "terrible sermon" isn't all that terrible, but it was shocking for its time and place/ context, sure.) He researches alchemical mysticism and taps into "secret electricity," all the while proclaiming religion is a fraud but that God - the true God - exists in lightning. God is an impersonal force to be channeled to his own purposes. (Shades of The Mosquito Coast's Allie Fox.) We learn his ultimate objective is the same as Isaac Newton's: to penetrate the deepest mystery of all, that of eternal death. Healing the rubes is just a means to that end. 

And where does it all lead? There's some stuff about Patient Omega and Jamie Is the Chosen One (so to speak) that is all fine and good - that kind of window dressing I don't mind whatsoever in a supernatural work, so long as effort is made for it to make "sense," which it does here - but the real payoff comes when, at last, the Rev succeeds in breaking through to the other side:

"The room didn't fade; it was still there, but I saw it was an illusion. (...) The whole living world was an illusion (...) as flimsy as an old nylon stocking. The true world was behind it.

"Basalt blocks rose to a black sky punched with howling stars. I think those blocks were all that remained of a vast ruined city. (...) Barren, yes, but not empty. A wide and seemingly endless column of naked human being trudged through it, heads down, feet stumbling. (...) Driving the humans were antlike creatures, most black, some the dark red of venous blood.

"(...) The foolish mirage of earthly life had been torn away and instead of the heaven preachers of all persuasions promised, what awaited them was a dead city of cyclopean stone blocks below a sky that was itself a scrim. The howling stars weren't stars at all. They were holes, and the holes emerging from them came from the true potestas magnum universum. Beyond the sky were entities. They were alive, and all-powerful, and totally insane."

"Somewhere in it was Claire * who deserved heaven and had gotten this instead: a charnel kingdom where guardian ant-things (were) waiting not just for the evil ones but for us all."

* Jamie's sister, whose offscreen death and abusive marriage was also a thread I thought might be in danger of not tying in properly. But, as we see, it certainly does.

For me, this was a pretty bad-ass moment that I was not expecting. King is a big fan of the movie The Changeling with George C. Scott, and that has a rather similarly bleak ending. (Maybe this is why I think it "reads" as a movie, because I'm channeling The Changeling? Another work, for what it's worth, where a protagonist becomes enmeshed in the shady afterworld as triggered by his wife and son's death.)

In a lot of King's works, the afterlife is counter-balanced by some benevolent force. (Or in the case of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon or It, a nonetheless benevolent indifference.) Not here. I was impressed with King's "going there," as well as tying it all together so sensibly (if tragically) in the epilogue. 

I'd also like to note three things:

1) I mean, this is a supernatural, sci-fi sort of situation. Some of the reviews I've read (mostly, again, at the official site - what is it with that site?) focus too much on its theological implications, whether good or bad. I don't really see the need. Let me indulge my inner Supreme Court Justice here and decline to review that case. (If I did, though, I'd treat it only as solemnly as I would the same sort of implications in Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness, though things take an admittedly more comically heroic turn for our man Ash.)

2) I was similarly puzzled by reports of the "extreme horror" of it all. It's certainly a damn bleak world of affairs for Jamie and the gang. But it makes sense - the novel holds together very well when seen through his character's lens/ arc. 

3) And really, if what waits for us after death is a life of toil, "gone to serve the Great Ones, in the Null. No death, no light, no rest," then hey, be happy to be alive, folks. As King often says when asked about his own religious beliefs, "I'm an optimist, okay?" 

3.5) Is this really so different a scenario than Greek mythology? The shades of the Underworld don't have it too well. I only bring it up because it made me think of Rose Madder. Civilizationally, we seem well-adjusted to the idea. Maybe it's just me.

A few last things:

- The Rev's stroke-speech goes away awfully conveniently, eh? All that "yessh" stuff doesn't appear anywhere in the last experiment. A line saying "Oh, I jolted myself - it'll last for a few days" or something would've gone a long way.

- "My fifth business" is this novel's repetitive phrase. As always, I want King's editor's job.

- At one point, Jamie refers to the movie Heathers as a "nodder for sure." i.e. a boring movie. I'd like to point out that in the afterword to Doctor Sleep, King also referred to the Mick Garris Psycho sequel as arguably the best of the series. As a film critic, King's acumen seems to have peaked with Danse Macabre

Well, that's my two cents. What did you folks think?


  1. I've got many, many thoughts about all of this, but I'm mostly going to hold off on them for the nonce.

    However, I can't pass up the opportunity to shit-talk a Mick Garris movie. I honestly don't know what I would say to anyone who thought "Psycho IV" is the best "Psycho" movie. Granted, I've only seen the first. But it's the same situation with the sequels to "Jaws" and "The Exorcist" -- I don't have to see the sequels to know they're inferior.

    So, for me, that comment about "Psycho IV" was one of the all-time great eye-rollers. The bit about "Heathers" isn't QUITE as bad; but it's close. And when I read it, I thought, "Oh-ho! THERE'S a line I can expect to read more about at Dog Star Omnibus at some point!"

    And rightly so.

    I love King, but I'm with ya; he cannot be trusted when it comes to movie reviews.

    1. When I saw that line, I literally said aloud "Hey now!" A coincidence? Or is King gunning for the Omnibus!?

      Yeah, probably a coincidence. But such an odd one. Why Heathers, of all the damn movies out there?

      As my OTHER go-to for King content on the web, I look forward to your thoughts whenever and wherever they come together.

  2. My own thoughts haven't changed much. I think it's good piece, but maybe not as up there as Semetary.

    The only things I can find to add is from a purely speculative perspective. In Bryant's review post, I mention in comments that either the second or (maybe) most important word in the book besides Faith was "trickery". The key line of dialogue here is, "Something tricks us, that's what I believe". This brought to mind a line from Storm of the Century, "Or maybe you just fooled yourselves".

    For me, the gist of Revival exists between those two statements, I think. It can't be coincidence that the ending reminded me of a similar coda to an old silent film, "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", where the story's narrator is definitely proved unreliable. The whole story ultimately just raises a similar question in my mind at the end. I don't say that's the correct interpretation, just one opinion among many. I just can't keep from wondering, well, how do you know all that electro-shock might have scrambled your brain a bit too much? It is a potential hazard.

    One of two other thoughts I had was, wouldn't it be funny if a story set in that Old One's world centered on an ant bureaucrat in the system, some insect in pince-nez spectacles and surrounded by paper complaining of how "these humans" keep harassing him?

    ....I'll go take my meds in a minute.

    The only other thought I had was how does it fit into the rest of King's oeuvre? All I know about that is that he's written at least two other Lovecraft style stories, N, and Crouch End, so it could be on a par with these.

    Who knows.


    1. Ha! I totally love that bureaucrat-ant-in-Lovecraft-Hell story idea. I'd watch / read the crap out of that.

      I thought of N while reading, but not Crouch End, but both are definitely his Lovecraft-y ones, you're absolutely correct.

      Dr. Caligari is fantastic! Good call. I had a similar wonder about the electroshock creating fantasies or what not. In fact, until I went back and checked, I remembered the dirt-hill at the beginning (where he meets Jacobs, with the plastic army men) as an ant-hill and thought 'a-ha! A loophole: this is just his memory scrambled by the electricity.' But then I checked and nope, a dirt mount not an anthill.

    2. Then again, there is the line of soldiers lined up in pre-arranged styles. That's kinda like ants. Maybe he just got the idea of toy soldiers mixed up with the idea of slavery and ants.

      Yeah, I don't know either.


  3. On the subject of rankings -- I've been working on my own rejiggered rankings, and recently completed the first draft. I was shocked to find "Revival" landing at a mere #50. But in compiling the list, I couldn't honestly go higher with it; SO many other books which didn't leave me cold and unmoved at the end the way this one did.

    But I'm going to hold off on finalizing that ranking until I reread the novel; something tells me a revisit might spark a reappraisal, so I'm going to wait until I find out for sure.

    Rankings are so silly anyways, aren't they? But they sure are fun -- they're a terrific excuse to dump out your mental toy-box and run all the cars around while you make "pew-pew-pew" noises (i.e., decide whether "Cell" is better than "Doctor Sleep").

    1. They are both fun and silly. (And Cell is better than Doctor Sleep, definitely. Pew pew pew!)

  4. "This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Frank Norris, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allan Poe."

    I always feel a little icky about official marketing self-referring to something as a "masterpiece," or other similar hyperbole. Nobody should call their own work a masterpiece, and they probably should balk if the people who run their website want to do it for them. It makes it look as if you're trying to oversell something, and when I see that I always wonder what it is that makes them think such a gambit is necessary.

    I'm not an expert (or even a knowledgeable amateur) on the subject of Poe, or Hawthorne either (and I've read nothing by Norris). So maybe that claim is valid and maybe it isn't. But it strikes me as a marketing technique more than anything else. It's designed to let people know that "Revival" is a novel that can safely be taken seriously.

    And really, who needs convincing at this point that King ought to be taken seriously? Nobody who seems prone to be hoodwinked by marketing of that nature seems likely to give shit #1 (you're welcome) about Poe, Hawthorne, and/or Norris.

    1. I thought the same - why am I beating up on the marketing? Am I going to bring Snapple to court for not, in fact, being the greatest stuff on earth? (Insert timelier ad jingle here.) But it just puzzled me. The obvious analog is Lovecraft - why bring Poe, hawthorne, and Norris into it? I've read all Poe and all Hawthorne - never any Norris. (I don't think I have, anyway.)

      What is this happy crappy? :-)

    2. Well, I don't know shit from Shinola, so I'm not sure.

  5. "For me, while the first few acts are perfectly fine, it only really kicks into overdrive once Jamie gets the letters to come to Maine for the healing of Astrid and obligation of further service to the Rev."

    That fascinates me, because that is the point at which the novel began to slowly lose me. I was 100% invested up until that point, and the reappearance of Astrid initially moved me. However, the more I considered it, the more unlikely it seemed. By the point that happened, I felt as if things were becoming too coincidental, too driven by the moldy hand of Fate. Which was okay by me, provided that the novel ended up somehow coming down big-time on the side of Fate being a key and driving force in these lives.

    And I'm not all that sure that's what happened. Or maybe it did, and I just missed the point utterly somehow. I've been known to do that from time to time.

    1. I was less concerned with fate and more with just storytelling cohesion. Which is a BS way of just saying I'd have personally been annoyed if the various threads of the first few acts weren't revealed to have been purposeful and not just pleasant-background-noise.

      But let's stick with Fate for a minute - is it real? Who is screenwriting our lives, fate or coincidence? If you're asking me as a person, I'd say they're kind of the same thing; we just see time-space from one stationary perspective. (I said this to a bible-thumper once and got my head chewed off. Joke was on him, though, because I did not give Shit One. And still don't.) But if you're asking me as a reader/ storyteller, I definitely don't like too much coincidence. I didn't see Astrid's re-appearance as a coincidence but as a logical function of the novel.

      But I do see your point, and I can see how a different read/take on that would lead to a much less satisfying reading experience, as it did for you.

  6. I think you make a good point about the theological implications of the novel being mostly irrelevant. It's not a point I agree with entirely, though: I mean, the novel's title is a sort of a pun, one that's designed in and of itself to make people think, "Huh, I thought that title meant one thing, but it actually means this other thing! Huh!" And that works regardless of which meaning you may have given the word initially.

    Either way, I think the title is an invitation to read the novel as a "THIS actually means THIS" tale, and I think many people can't help but see it as a novel that has Something To Say on The Subject.

    Nudging that along is the fact that in a few of his recent interviews, King has been very up-front about his religious views. In a sense, he's made that conversation a part of the selling of the novel, and if you combine that with the title and the content, I think it makes sense to consider the novel in that light.

    But readings of that nature can (and do) go overboard oh so frequently. I hate to think what some of the conversations about it have been like on the official SK forums. I'm pleased to not be a part of that conversation -- I like this one a lot better, because "Evil Dead II" got mentioned.

    1. Hmm. I guess you're right - King certainly did nudge the conversation along in those directions. But is the title a misdirection? I guess I felt it was more of a Frankenstein thing/ pun.

      I just felt it was sci-fi/horror and not a theological statement of any kind, but if people want to read it that way - and if King himself feels he's made one - hey, that's cool. If it is meant as one, though, I'm not very interested. I like it as a horror movie. King's religious beliefs, meh. I guess I'm just not predisposed to examine them vis-a-vis Revival.

      And yes, avoid the forums - good rule in general, but there's an awful lot of rubes-philosophizin' going on.

    2. Oh, right -- I'd forgotten about the Frankenstein connection. That brings to mind the subtle reference to that novel King makes: the character Mary Fay was born of a mother whose maiden name was Janice Shelley.


      You know...given that I myself AM a rube, and one prone to philosophizin' of my own (sometimes in rather strident fashion), I probably shouldn't look down my nose. Will that stop me? Laws, no.

  7. Your quoting of King's line "I'm an optimist, okay?" brings to mind one of the anecdotes he is prone to tell during interviews and lectures. It's about Stanley Kubrick, who apparently -- and this seems like something Kubrick would have done, so I believe 100% that this is a true story -- phoned King up one morning during preproduction on "The Shining."

    As King tells the story, Kubrick skipped the chit-chat and immediately asked if if it weren't true that all ghost stories were fundamentally optimistic stories, because they imply an afterlife. King paused for a moment, and asked, "But Stanley, what about Hell?"

    Kubrick evidently replied that he didn't believe in Hell, and that was the end of the conversation.

    I suspect there would be an entire post to be written considering "Revival" in the light of this anecdote.

    And for my own part, I'm going to take Kubrick's side here. Ghosts DO imply an afterlife, which implies the possibility of Heaven AND Hell, I suppose.

    It may be that one of my problems with "Revival" is that I'm struggling to see King's big-picture point. Or, in other words, I'm not sure what the thesis of the novel is. What is King saying? Is he implying that there IS an afterlife, and it's Hell for all of us? If so, where is the temperance of Heaven?

    There doesn't need to be temperance of that nature, of course; this is (as you correctly point out) supernatural horror fiction, so of course Heaven doesn't have to factor in.

    But I'm just not sure it's all adding up for me. Again, this may be due to my own oversight(s) and biases and outside influences as much as anything, so I'm more than willing to find out I'm wrong.

    1. King's changed that story a few times over the years. He seems to have settled into that telling of it, tho, that you mention.

      If you're asking me personally, I prefer a more Hindu approach to these things. I think the Baghavad Gita is the most fascinating discussion of heaven, hell, and reality I've ever read. But I think the world of Revival IS certainly implying that all of our religious dogma is bunk, and we're just awaiting a grisly, ceaseless fate once we shuffle off this mortal coil.

      OR - perhaps - this is the price Jamie et al pay for stealing the ant-things' energy. And this is just one little sliver of an omniverse out there.

    2. Could be. I think another part of my problem with the novel had to do with my inability to see how it fits in alongside the rest of King's shared multiverse.

      Which is an unreasonable expectation in some ways, and an entirely reasonable one in others.

      I must think on these matters.

    3. In terms of where Revival fits into the rest of the King canon continuity...

      I think the first thing to keep in mind is that King both is and isn't doing the kind of thing that Tolkien did with LOTR. When Tolkien wrote anything down, he did his best to make sure that stuff was "thorough". I'd argue that King is doing a slightly less strict version of that kind of thing. Which is fine, world building isn't everything in fiction, but it's just something that seems to have happened.

      In King's case, I'd say as long as he doesn't contradict elements in his other works too much, then he's on more or less solid ground. In the case of Revival, I don't think he introduces any contradiction, and I have an interesting observation in support of that.

      It has to do with King's two other Lovecraft stories. Both have this similarity with Revival. N is told from a series of unreliable first person perspective, and Crouch End is based off the report of an hysterical woman, so who can say what's real and false in all three stories.

      I can't say why King would wind up writing all his Lovecraft stories in such a fashion, but it's interesting to note that they share this same unreliable perspective. The best I can guess is that some element of the stories demanded that point of view.

      It's also interesting that stories that mention Lovecraft elements, like Needful Things or Eyes of the Dragon, make mention of them in relation to sorcerer's illusions and things like that (and it's mention in Dragon is even more problematic depending on how you view the Towerverse) That doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it's just a thought.


    4. I don't consider Jamie an unreliable narrator, though. Not in the classic sense of the term anyway.

      There might have been more of that, actually - I think Revival might have benefited from it. Bryant had an intriguing idea of the novel ending in a more "Strawberry Spring" type fashion, and I think that might have worked quite well.

      But, I also really like the way it ends, so I'm glad he did it the way he did, all told.

    5. From what I can tell, a minimum of 85% of Lovecraft's stories are told from the perspective of someone who is either crazy or in severe emotional distress. So as for why King wrote his Lovecraftian stories in that fashion . . . well, what other fashion IS there?

      I'm with Bryan -- I don't think Jamie is an unreliable narrator. I don't think there's even a hint in that direction.

  8. Apologies for the numerous comments, which seem to be spreading like those weeds that come out of the meteor in "Creepshow."

    One last one, and I'll cease the invasion: I'd never heard the phrase "fifth business" before. I was tempted to think King might have invented it, but it seemed awfully random to invent something like that.

    You seem familiar with it outside the context of "Revival" -- is this is a regional thing I've somehow missed? A literary one that sailed by me?

    1. ha! Invade anyway.

      I've seen / heard "fifth business" before. I think in a text I had for a Film Theory or Screenwriting class. It's been awhile. (Was it mentioned in that Kirk Douglas movie where he's a producer?) I don't think it's a regional thing, tho, no.

  9. A few more post-reread thoughts:

    (1) I've been working on a retooled ranking of King's books, and I've now got "Revival" place at #27. So not far off from where you ended up with it. And the thing is, I wanted to put it a lot higher; it's just that, looking at the 26 I had ahead of it, I didn't see how I could. You get into that man's top 35 or so, the competition is BRUTAL.

    1. Not sure why I hit publish on that before I was finished. Ah, well...

      (2) I remember having the same concerns as you regarding the disparate plot threads coming together. On a reread, most of that concern fades away entirely. I still think that some of it never quite coalesces, but much of it is so engaging that while the amateur editor/critic in me might object, the me who is simply a reader gives virtually all of it a big thumbs-up. But in a formal sense, I still think you're correct to point out that some of it comes of as window dressing within the novel's overall story.

      (3) Seeing your comment about "The Mosquito Coast" (which I've still never seen, or read) made me think, for some reason, of what an alternative version of this novel might be like that told the story from Jacobs's point of view. I'd be into reading that.

      (4) "Let me indulge my inner Supreme Court Justice here and decline to review that case." I was SO tempted to hear that case in my own series of posts, but in the end, I decided to just not to. I've got gobs of feelings on the subject, but the fact is, there's always a slim chance my mother might somehow end up reading that shit, and I'd say nothing in such a post that she'd want to hear. So in a way, I declined to express my feelings about that aspect of the novel out of a fear of Mother. Kind of satisfying, that.

    2. (1) Couldn't agree more. When I did my re-rankings once you get up into the top 35/40/45, sometimes it feels completely arbitrary ranking one over any other. It's a nice problem for an author to have.
      (3) It's worth reading/ seeing.
      (4) I do that sometimes, myself. Although I think a good default for all such discussion is "Hey, it's possible." Because it pretty much ALL is. The only thing we know is cellular death and how this intricate machine of cells, bones, blood, nerve endings, and the other million design miracles of the human body fall like discarded dust once this soul/ consciousness departs. To where we don't know. It is indeed a disturbing universe... Enjoy it while you got it, friends and neighbors! And don't be a jerk. (Chances are: that's all we need.)

      You should read the Bhagavad Gita sometime. I'd be curious as to your thoughts. It's a quick read and not preachy.

    3. One of the things that's persistently been on my mental checklist is reading the texts of all the major religions. It seems like something just about anybody ought to do, if only to know the world a bit better. Will I ever get to it? Probably not. But never say never.

  10. Thanks for the link to The Great God Pan - as I read it it was apparent why Machen is one of King's major influences. Maybe it was partly the era in which he was writing, but I was amazed at how much of a sense of dread he was able to convey while leaving the most terrifying details to the reader's imagination. Almost like the effect of an old radio broadcast compared to today's horror movies. It casts the ending of Revival in a different light as well, not quite a pastiche, but I understand the inspiration for it much better. Once again, I'm thrilled that I stumbled upon this treasure trove of SK analysis consisting of the tag team of Bryant and yourself!

    1. I love old time radio. I definitely feel Revival is King in Manchean/Arch Oboler mode. King's growing up on the cusp of the last radio-listening/pre-tv generation (in his grandparents' living room, if memory serves) definitely imbues his work with a certain something, I think.

      And hey, glad to have you!

    2. One of these days -- a phrase I type with depressing regularity -- I am going to use "Danse Macabre" as an excuse to plow through all the books, movies, tv shows, and (yes) radio shows King mentions in that tome. That's gonna take a year, but it'll be a frickin' GREAT year.

  11. That would be an impressive achievement! I was tempted to do the same when I finished DAM recently, but I settled for a more realistic goal of adding 10-15 of the books he mentions to my reading list. I'm particularly looking forward to Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Haunting of Hill House, The Shrinking Man, and The Fog. I struggle sometimes to branch out to other authors if I don't know much about their work. King describes not only the stories but the author's style and techniques in such an enthralling manner that I can't help but want to read them. Assuming I can stop reading King's books long enough to get to it!

    1. The last time I read it, I read "Something Wicked" soon thereafter as a result. "The Fog" was one that really appealed to me, too.