Saturday, June 08, 2013

Joyland

Just finished up Stephen King's newest book, Joyland and I have to say it's one of his best in some time. It's not horror. It's a ghost story, and a mystery, and a coming of age story and it works on all those levels. The book follows a young man named Devin Jones who takes a summer job at an amusement park called Joyland.
     Joyland's not a big place. No Disney World or even Six Flags. Closer in spirit to a county fair perhaps, but it has its own charms. It also has a fortune teller who really has 'the sight' and a house of horrors with a real ghost. Don't let all of that make you think this is a King fright fest though. It's not that kind of story. The supernatural is just something in the background. A side dish if you will. The main course is more like The Body (Stand by Me) or The Shawshank Redemption.
   Devin tells the story looking back from the present to 1973. And I think this is a book that King couldn't have written ten or twenty years ago. I get the feeling that he was looking back too, the way that you can only see things with the kind of clarity that time and experience can give.
   I know that there are people who will always refuse to see King's talent and skill as a writer. Those who want to pigeonhole him as a writer of supermarket scary books, but trust me, this one is well written with the kind of style that other writers will envy. It has that seductive story teller voice that King excels at when he's on. I read the thing at one sitting, even reading as I cooked dinner. (No I didn't burn anything.)
   I laughed at places as I read Joyland. Other parts I found very moving. There were even points where someone less tough than me might have teared up. It's a good book. One of those books that reminds me why I enjoy reading. So thanks again, Mr. King. You've still got it.

2 comments:

Rachel said...

This sounds really good. I haven't read a King in a while. I've always been really impressed with his writing but not often able to get into his stories. This one sounds like a variety of his that I could really get into.

Charles R. Rutledge said...

You'd probably enjoy it, Rachel. Very character driven.