Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Brief Review: "In theTall Grass" Part 1 of 2 (by Stephen King and Joe Hill)

Here is what I'm prepared to tell you about "In the Tall Grass":

(1)  It is a new short story written by Stephen King and Joe Hill.

(2)  It is being published in two parts, the first of which appears in the June/July 2012 issue (on newsstands now!), the second of which will appear in the August 2012 issue.

(3)  It is, based on Part 1, a good vintage-style high-concept horror story, of the sort which was once a King specialty.  It has since, arguably, become something of a Hill specialty.

and (4)  It is, based on Part 1, well worth your time.

What I'm about to say next may shock you.  It probably won't, but it may, especially if you are very easily shocked (i.e., if you are shocked by things like low low prices at the Walmart, or when Don cheats on someone on Mad Men, or when eating beans gives you the poots).

So if those things shock you, you'll almost certainly be shocked by the following recommendation: do not read Part 1 of "In the Tall Grass"!


You read that correctly.  I'm advising you NOT to read a Stephen King/Joe Hill story.  Even more shocking, I'm advising you not to read a King/Hill story that I very much enjoyed.


Why would I make such a blatantly contradictory recommendation?  Simple: because Part 1 of this story ends with no resolution whatsoever, and it's going to be two fucking months before you get to find out what happens in that titular tall grass.  So, really, it's not so much that I'm recommending that you not read the story; I'm just recommending that you wait two months and then read it all in one go.

"In the Tall Grass" is the story of a pair of siblings, Cal and Becky DeMuth, who are on a road trip.  They are very close, and act very much as most twins I have known act.  While tooling along in Kansas with the radio off and the windows down, they hear a child shouting for help.  The child is apparently lost inside a big field of tall grass, and they decide to help.

That's all you're getting out of me.

I very much enjoyed the first part of the story.  It's well-written, funny, scary, and ... incomplete.  See, thing is, I just can't judge it in this form; without knowing how it turns out, I don't know how to feel about the story.  Did I enjoy reading Part 1?  Absolutely.  Do I anticipate that Part 2 will reward my patience?  I do.

But I suspect that most readers -- be they King fans, Hill fans, fans of both, or fans of neither -- will mostly be more satisfied if they digest "In the Tall Grass" as a complete work, not as a serial one.

This, of course, should not stop you from buying a copy of the current issue of Esquire.  It's got other goodies, including a short but highly interesting interview with Hill wherein he talks about the process of collaborating with his father.  There's also an illuminating interview with Bruce Willis -- see him on the cover? -- in which he sounds, frankly, like a total douche.  Or, possibly, like the coolest guy ever.  Maybe even both.

So, if you're inclined, give it a buy.  And then sit on it for a couple of months; I'm guessing you'll be glad you did (in BOTH cases).


  1. Great post!
    You made me wanna read that, it's going right now to the top of my wishlist. :))
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks! You'll definitely enjoy it.

  3. You'd think 2 months wouldn't be that long a wait for a new King installment considering how long we had to wait between Dark Tower books. That being said, thanks for the warning, I hate waiting :)

    1. You make an excellent point. Man, those waits between DT novels were epic, in all the wrong ways.