Apr 26, 2011

The Stand

I re-watched the television mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's The Stand last week, and I was struck by a few things.

1. It looked really cheap, even for television. It was 1994, after all.
2. There was some truly horrendous acting going down.*
3. I still enjoyed the hell out of it.

I know.  Numbers 1 and 2 don't usually add up to number 3 in cases like this, but for me they did.  Maybe it's because The Stand is one of my all-time favorite books.  I said it.  And it's not even my favorite Stephen King book.  What's my Top 5 Stephen King novel list look like?  Glad you asked.

5. Carrie
4. The Dead Zone
3. The Shining
2. The Stand
1. 'Salem's Lot

The more astute Stephen King fan might notice that those were the first 5 novels that he published.  Or, to be more factual, the first 5 novels he published AS Stephen King.  He snuck in Rage and The Long Walk as Richard Bachman in between some of those, but really...those are his first 5.  Not in the order I listed above.  Carrie was first, followed by 'Salem's Lot, The Shining, The Stand and The Dead Zone.

It's not like I haven't liked anything that he published after those first 5.  I have.  It was real close to making the list, and it's probably a dead heat between it (hehe) and Carrie for 5th place.  But I read It after having read Peter Straub's wonderful Floating Dragon, and they seemed a bit too similar to me at the time.  I've re-read it a few times, but it just doesn't do it for me as much as those other 5. 

I don't know why, but I stopped reading Stephen King around the time Dolores Claiborne came out in 1993.  I had read Gerald's Game just before that and I really disliked it.  But that's the way I am with some things in my life.  Just drop it like it's hot.  Done.  I haven't read any of the Dark Tower books, even though they've been recommended to me by dozens of people.  I tried reading the sequel to The Talisman (co-written with Peter Straub), Black House...but it didn't take. I did read Cell a few years back, but it left me longing for more.

It left me longing for The Stand.  I'm gonna have to re-read it again soon.  It's about time.

*The culprits? Corin Nemec, Laura San Giacomo, Molly Ringwald (ugh!), Matt Frewer and Shawnee Smith.  But they were offset by the great acting jobs put in by Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Jamey Sheridan, Miguel Ferrer and Ray Walston.  Even the guy who played Larry Underwood was pretty good, even if I've never really seen him in anything else.

24 comments:

sybil law said...

Yep - I am not a Stephen King fan, but I'd have to agree with you totally that at least a couple of those books were good (The Shining and Salem's Lot - I haven't read the others). I've tried reading him, but man - I just can't get into it.

Beach Bum said...

I've read The Stand and a few others by King but my favorite of his is Cell.

B.E. Earl said...

Sybil - I'm not anymore either, but there was a time when he was my favorite author.

Beach Bum - Really? Wow, that one felt like The Stand Lite to me. No character development that I recall. Maybe I'm just being cynical.

badgerdaddy said...

Dude, try Under The Dome. The first two thirds are like the 90s never happened. I often cite King as an example of what can happen when an addict comes off drugs; Robin Williams, Robert De Niro, Stephen King. All great in the past, all shite now. That said, The Green Mile is also pretty excellent.

Oh, and Salem's Lot is also my fave King book, no question.

RW said...

On another note, have you ever read Kinsella's "Iowa Baseball Confederacy" about the 2000 inning game this guy is trying to prove happened? Same guy who wrote Shoeless Joe which was taken up as Field of Dreams. Iowa is weirder but just askin...

RW said...

or 200 inning. Now I can't remember...

Paticus said...

I read some after Dolores Claiborne(which I kinda liked) and I like more of his stuff than you do, but i don't remember the last one I read. I don't think I read "Cell". It wasn't really a conscious decision either, I just kinda wandered away from them.I really dug Pet Sematary,though.

Slyde said...

you've never seen him in anything else?

didnt he win an academy award for Dr Giggles?

P.S. sk IS PUTTING OUT A NEW Dark Tower book in Nov..!

Slyde said...

p.s. ive read every SK book ever made. BAdger, Under the Dome? Really? I thought that book was a GREAT idea that he tore apart and made quite sucky...

downtown guy said...

My favorites by him are The Talisman, the whole Dark Tower series, and the short story collection Night Shift. Seriously - if you like the Stand, you owe it to yourself to read the Dark Tower books.

Ren said...

I can't recall which of his books I've read -- Night Shift and Pet Cemetery at least, I think -- but I listened to the unabridged audio book of Needful Things and really enjoyed it.

B.E. Earl said...

badger - Robin Williams used to be great?

RW - I love that book. I don't remember how many innings it went, but it lasted for weeks and weeks I believe. Any book that has Mordecai Brown as a character is aces, in my opinion.

Paticus - Pet Sematary was around the time that I started to dislike reading his stuff.

Slyde - You're thinking of someone else, he wasn't in Dr. Giggles.

Hank - I loved The Talisman also, but did you read (or try to read) the sequel? Drek.

Ren - Night Shift was an awesome collection of short stories, but I hated Needful Things.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I think I read one or two of those, but I'm pretty sure I saw ALL of the movies.

Except for The Shining. Never read nor saw that one.
Can you believe it?

B.E. Earl said...

Candy - It's a great book and a great (but different) film. You should check them both out.

badgerdaddy said...

Slyde, I thought the first two thirds of UTD are like The Stand flipped over - instead of some epic journey, it's the opposite. It didn't end well, though.

And Earl, three words for you: Mork and Mindy.

B.E. Earl said...

badger - Six more words for you: Doesn't stand the test of time.

Avitable said...

My list is:

5. Cell
4. Carrie
3. The Stand
2. IT
1. Dark Tower series

That doesn't even count all of his short stories. I didn't read Dolores Claiborne or Gerald's Game completely - they both sucked, but I've read everything else he's done.

B.E. Earl said...

Avitable - A Stephen King Top 5 without 'Salem's Lot? Wow. But the rest I can see, even if I didn't really like Cell or haven't read any of the Dark Tower stuff. I've heard good things though.

badgerdaddy said...

I'm sure it doesn't. But at the time it felt like gold. That's good enough for child-me. Besides, he's way too alive for my liking. I like my comedians dead. And funny.

downtown guy said...

You know, I've read most of his work, and I'm not all that big a fan of 'Salem's Lot. Not his best, not his worst.

Lotus07 said...

Thanks to my Sony E-reader, I have been reading a lot more recently. I am currently reading Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue". Now don't laugh...I am reading it as research. I want to have a counter point to the tell all books that are coming about her this summer. To say it is bad, would be incorrect. It is funny, in a down home folksie sort of way. It lays down her ideal American / Alaskan ethic in the form of 'I walked uphill, 12 miles, in a blizard just to get to school' sort of rememberance. Very laughable. But hockey mom's would just lap this shit up.

What I am reading of late is "Catcher In the Rye", by Sallinger. Couldn't find it anywhere to download, so I actually ended up going old school and getting a paperback copy if it. I am glad I never read this when I was younger, because it would have made no sense, but now in middle age, it is a fascinating read.

B.E. Earl said...

badger - Funny is good enough for me.

Hank - It's easily my favorite. I love everything about it. The characters, the pacing...shit, if you didn't know it was a vampire book when you began to read it you wouldn't even really know until about a third of the way in. All the evil up until that point was so...human.

Bruce - You know, ahem, I've never read Catcher in the Rye. I know...

Faiqa said...

The Stand is my most favorite book of all time. And I've read, like, a lot of books. True story.

B.E. Earl said...

Faiqa - I would never have guessed you were well-read. Never. ;)