Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Brief Review of "The Outsider"

Well, in the words of Rustin Parr, I'm finally finished.

I'm going to give you as bare-bones and spoiler-free of a review as I can possibly manage.  I'll be able to manage it pretty well, too, although there is one major plot point that, frankly, it's kind of nuts for me NOT to talk about.  But since it's been absent from the book's marketing, I'll leave it for you to find out on your own; seems like the right thing to do.
I ingested The Outsider -- which spans 561 pages -- in a mere two days, and that right there ought to tell you something about the novel.  That's a big chunk of reading and not a long span of time in which it was accomplished.  So was it compulsively readable?  You better believe it.
Unfortunately, that's not enough for me to give the novel anything more than a weak recommendation.  Allow me to explain.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A look at recent King-family short stories

I have a real brief one for you tonight: just wanted to give you a brief set of reactions to four recently-published King-family short stories that I read this week.
We'll proceed in the order in which they were published, which gives us the added benefit of saving Big Steve's story for last.
Up first:
"All I Care About Is You"
(by Joe Hill)
published in The Weight of Words, December 21, 2017
When he's at his best, Joe Hill makes you want to fuck someone, or punch someone, or donate a bunch of money to charity, or run outside and tump a car over.  Do something passionate, at any rate.  I had none of those options available to me after reading this story, which finds Hill either at his best or real damn near it; so I just ate some Moon Pies.  Story of my fuckin' life, that.
I don't really know why it took me this long to read the story.  Well ... I do know, it's just for a fundamentally silly reason.  
See, a few years ago, I made a sort of vow to myself: that going forward, when I buy anthologies -- I do not extend this courtesy to magazines (for reasons that don't even make sense to me, much less to any hypothetical people with whom I share them) -- so as to have copies of stories by authors such as Hill, King, etc. whose work I enjoy, I will not allow myself to merely read their contributions and then toss them aside.  I used to do that all the time; and when I say "used to," I mean from, like, 1990-2015.  It's insulting to all those other authors!  Plus, I have a tendency these days to ONLY read the Kings and Hills of the world, i.e., people who are already on my approved list.  Reading anthologies is a good way to pick up at least a modicum of familiarity with other authors.
Understand, it is like an ice-pick in my heart to realize I can't find the time to read more or less every genre author there is (and I'd love also to read copious amounts of non-genre fiction, nonfiction, poetry, you name it).  But I can't, so I kind of don't worry about it much.
Insisting on making myself read the entirety of these anthologies is my way of not throwing in 100% of the towel; if I can keep 0.05% of it, well, better than none, right?
So basically, I was waiting to find the time -- which I apparently needed to be just right -- to settle down with The Weight of Words.  I got the book in late 2017, and here, halfway through 2018, the time had just not been quite right.
But when -- and apologies for this full-tilt detour into crazy-town, but hey, this IS a blog, so you asked for at least a little bit of crazy -- I read new, published-online stories by both Owen and Stephen King last week, and (spoiler alert!) loved them both, it got me to thinking that there was a major new story by Joe Hill just sitting there on my shelf, waiting forlornly to be read.  And so, I've broken my rule, and dove right into The Weight of Words, flipped to very near the end, and consumed "All I Care About Is You."  All I cared about for the moment was that story.
That said, I will read the entirety of the anthology before the summer is out; I may well make it the next thing I read once The Outsider has been vanquished in fact.  We'll see as to that, but before the summer is out, for sure.
And when I do read it, I will 100% reread "All I Care About Is You," which immediately became a lock for a spot in my top three Hill short stories.  "Pop Art" and "20th Century Ghost" are the current #1 and #2; I'm not sure I had any kind of formal pick for #3, but I feel like if I'd had to choose one, it would have been either "In the Tall Grass" or "Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead."
Well, no more; "All I Care About Is You" vaults immediately into at least the #3 position.  I think "Pop Art" is safe at #1, but a reread might find the #2 spot up for grabs.  Regardless of where they get slotted in, this story is sheer dynamite.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Ocean She Was Adrift On Was Time: "Dolores Claiborne" Revisited, Part 3

I'd been working my way up to these posts about Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne all year, and my primary goal for them was to get them finished before May 22.  May 22, you Constant Readers may know, is the day King's new novel, The Outsider, hits shelves.  As is typically the case, my plan for that day involves not working, dragging myself out of bed at some point after noon, going to a place where the book would be apt to be sold, purchasing a couple of copies (one of which will be for some future me's reread-note-taking pleasure), and then spending as much of the next few days as possible reading it.

Better by far if I've got no in-the-works blog posts waiting to be finished.
And hey, whattaya know!  I managed to get across the finish line before the deadline arrived.  Not with a whole heck of a lot of time to spare, but that don't confront me none; it got done, and it got done reasonably well, and so I'm gonna pat myself on the back for just a second.

After which, I will point out that I didn't quite finish: deep-dives into the movie adaptations of both Dolores Claiborne (1995) and Gerald's Game (2017) were intended to be part of this series, and those, alas, I am not going to be able to get done pre-Outsider.  This, I think, is okay; I'll be all to happy to let those sit for a week or two, because after all, I'd kind of like to deal with them as their own thing, and not merely as reflections of the books.  So putting a mild amount of distance between the books and the movies by slotting in a different book altogether...?  Not the worst idea in the world.  So I'm claiming, anyways, and you can't prove I don't mean it!

Heck, I may even wedge a post about recently King-family short stories in there for good measure.  On the score, we shall see.

Regardless, let's now conclude our revisit of Dolores Claiborne the novel with a roundup edition of stray thoughts I failed to work into the first few posts.

Don't look too closely at the join in those two pages; this was not my most graceful ripping-and-taping job.  It's another lovely Bill Russell illustration, though.
We're gonna just sorta work our way through in chronological order, mostly, and hit whatever seem worth hitting. Let's begin with what is, for me, one of the most memorable sections of the novel: Dolores's description of dealing with Vera's bedsheets, particularly during the winter.

"That was one thing you didn't ever want to get wrong," says Dolores (19).  "They had to be hung perfectly even over the lines -- so the hems matched, you know -- and you had to use six clothespins on each one.  Never four; always six."

Fair enough, right?  I mean, they're Vera's sheets; and those hanging them are being paid Vera's money to hang them.  If I were the kind of person who was particular about such things, and was paying somebody to do this work for me, I'd be particular about this thing, and no mistake about it.

Monday, May 21, 2018

She Had Three Ways of Bein a Bitch: "Dolores Claiborne" Revisited, Part 2

Depicted above: the Hodder & Stoughton edition of the novel's hardback.  Ain't it a beaut?  I probably still prefer the American edition from Viking, but our British cousins did well with this one, and if I can find a reasonably inexpensive used copy, I'mma have me one.

That acquisitorial note made, let's now crack on with part two of our Dolores Claiborne revisit.

Today, I want to look at the novel's two most prominent supporting players, Joe St. George and Vera Donovan, beginning with the latter.  (We already talked about here some here, but there's plenty more left to be said.)

Dolores's relationship with Vera is probably the most important of the novel, and it's one of the most compelling relationships in all of King's work.  It's difficult to put a label on exactly what kind of relationship it is.  It's not romantic or sexual (a thing which is likely not in doubt, but may nevertheless need to be stated); it's an employer/employee relationship, but one which morphs into caregiver/patient; it can't quite be considered a friendship, except in the numerous ways which it behaves as one.  What are these two women to each other?

We don't quite know, and since Dolores is the narrator, this can mean only that she herself doesn't know.  And since she isn't exactly the kind of person who is prone to waste a great deal of mental energy figuring such things out, it remains somewhat ill-defined throughout.

As such, I think it manages to be incredibly compelling.  It is infuriating at times, it is thrilling at other times, it is moving at still others.

This is life, isn't it?

Friday, May 18, 2018

The World's A Sorry Schoolroom Sometimes: "Dolores Claiborne" Revisited, Part 1

Having traipsed our way through Gerald's Game, we now turn our attentions to Dolores Claiborne, and I immediately sense -- perhaps to the relief of some of you! -- that I'm not going to have anywhere near as much to say about this novel.  In no way should this be taken as a reflection on its quality.  Its quality is substantial, and in fact I'd say that of the two, I prefer Dolores Claiborne pretty handily ... and that despite being unreservedly impressed by Gerald's Game on this revisit.  Both are grade-A stuff; but in my opinion, Dolores Claiborne is an A+.

That doesn't mean I've got nothing to say, though.  Let's find out what it amounts to!


We're going to begin with some business.  You sometimes see Dolores Claiborne listed as a 1993 publication, and that's quite reasonable given the fact that the copyright date in the book -- and it's listed this way in all three editions I own -- is, in fact, 1993.

Despite this, it was published in 1992.  I have no clue why the book itself says 1993; my best guess is that it was an error of some sort that became legally binding and has therefore been permitted to stand.  But who can say?  Not this blogger.  This blogger CAN say that he is almost positive he read the book during the Christmas break after his first semester of college; specifically, I read it while visiting my grandparents in Creola.  This would have been in the waning days of 1992, so let's say probably December 26 or 27.

I say "almost positive" because I cannot rule out the technical possibility that we visited Creola later that year than usual, and that it might have been in the first days of 1993 that I actually read the novel.  But I put the odds of this as being very slim indeed.

Regardless, let's look at a few hard facts:

  • in an interview with W.C. Stroby in the July 1992 issue of Fangoria, Dolores Claiborne is said to be earmarked for publication in December 
  • Kirkus evidently reviewed the novel in the September 1, 1992 issue, and they list the publication date as December 7
  • the New York Times reviewed the novel in its November 16, 1992 issue
  • an interview with King in the Times on November 18 said that the novel "is being released this week" 
  • Kevin Quigley's Chart of Darkness lists the publication date as December 6, and says that the book went straight to the #1 position on the Times list of bestsellers, remaining there for the remainder of the year
  • a second Times review (this one in brief) seemingly followed on December 27

Add all that up, and I feel pretty good about saying that this book definitively WAS published in 1992, regardless of what it says inside the book itself.  (And I feel similarly good about continuing to claim -- for the one people in the entire world [me!] who care about this -- that I read the book shortly after Christmas.)

So there you have it; done and dusted.  All you suckers out there who keep saying 1993, you've been misled, but adjust your lists accordingly because it's 19 and 92 and that's just all there is to it.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

An Unlikely Wellspring For Myth: "Gerald's Game" Revisited, Part 3

Well, we've reached the third and final part (excluding a look at the movie adaptation) of our revisit with Gerald's Game, and has been the case a few times in the past when I've tackled King's novels, this final part is going to be less a cohesive thing than it is me pointing at a bunch of stuff and saying, "Hey, lookit __________!  Isn't that cool!"  Like I'm hosting the Chris Farley Show or something.
 I'm cool with that, and anyways, Gerald's Game has lots of stuff to point at and get enthusiastic over.  So let's get to enthusing, beginning with this:
This frontispiece illustration by Bill Russell is a beaut.  I love the three frontispieces Russell did for King novels; he did three in a row, back-to-back-to-back (Needful Things in 1991, Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne in 1992).  I don't know much about him, but I think his style was well-suited to King's books, and I wish their collaboration had been more extensive.
We'll see more of Russell's art in this post; he also created smaller illustrations that appeared at the beginnings of chapters.  I'm going to use them to separate topics, because bulletpoints get old and don't allow for paragraph breaks.  And anyways, we will in fact have some bulletpoints when we get to the end.  Do you care about this?  I doubt it, and if you do, I don't know why.  Why'm I even bringing it up?  What a weirdo I am sometimes.
Speaking of weirdos, let's talk a bit about Gerald Burlingame.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

You're Only Made of Moonlight: "Gerald's Game" Revisited, Part 2

Welcome back for the second part -- third, if'n you count this one -- of our revisit of Gerald's Game.  Today we're going to focus on the space cowboy himself, Raymond Andrew Joubert.

Joubert is a somewhat controversial figure among King fans, thanks to the question of whether King does right by his own concept for the character.  He is initially presented as a figure who might not exist at all: a figment of Jessie's taxed and overactive imagination, quite possibly.  And even once Jessie accepts that he IS real, she goes through rather an ordeal trying to reconcile that he is with the possibility of what he is.  The reader, obviously, goes along with her on that journey, and then along comes Stephen King at the end to upset everyone's apple cart.
So say some, at least.
We'll get to my feelings on the subject in due course, but let's first take an abbreviated stroll through the ways in which King depicts this monstrous figure during the bulk of the novel.
And where is there to begin except at the beginning?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Body Disdained Memory: "Gerald's Game" Revisited, Part 1

Gerald's Game was released during the summer of 1992; July 13 is the date I've found that seems the likeliest to be accurate.

This was my first summer post-high-school, and I don't think I will ever think of Gerald's Game without remembering a bit about who I was during those weeks.

I'm going to indulge in some walk-down-memory-lane type stuff now, and I forgive you entirely if you just rolled your eyes and said, "Oh, fuck that noise" and are considering bailing out.  I'll make it super-duper easy for you to skip straight to the part of the post where I analyze Gerald's Game the novel and not Bryant Burnette the phantom teenager.  Alls you've got to do is scroll down a bit, find the photo of the Gerald's Game hardback, and voila, you have arrived at your destination.

Those of who who feel like taking a bit of a walk with me, you are welcome, you are thanked, and you are now walking.

I graduated from high school in the spring of 1992, and I had only a few weeks before beginning summer-school classes at the University of Alabama.  This was advice I'd been given by somebody; probably my dad, designed to just to sort of get my feet wet.  Nervous?  Boy howdy.  I never got comfortable in high school, and that was the same place day in day out, with the same people, for four years.  (Well, two places, actually; ninth and tenth grades were one campus, eleventh and twelfth another one across town.)  I had friends and was not by any means a complete outcast or anything like that, but the niceties of being a social animal just never clicked for me, and it was the cause of a not inconsiderable amount of distress.

For example, I never had a girlfriend the entire time I was in high school.  For that matter, I never went out on a single date.  This is not much of a surprise, considering that in all four years, I literally only asked one girl out.  And that didn't go terribly well.  ("I don't know if you like movies, but would you like to go see Lethal Weapon 3 with me tomorrow night?"  "I haven't even seen the first two, so not really."  Awkward silence ensues.  Wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't had to expend what seems in retrospect like enough courage to power a bullet train on working up the nerve to even ask.  But I did, so it was pretty bad.)

I worried then that there must simply be something wrong with me.  How else to explain not being able to interact with people the way seemingly everyone else in the entire world could and did?  And I don't think I was incorrect; there was something wrong with me, but I had zero idea of how to fix it, and so consequently, I found it a lot easier and less stressful to just bury my head in a book whenever I had the option to do so.

My author of choice, of course, was Stephen King.  Hey, I bet you knew that already, didn't you?  There were other authors I was reading, too, but none of them filled the void that King's books filled; not even close.  Remember the section in Carrie in which Carrie tries to impress upon her mother the need for her to fit in and get along?  That spoke to me.  The whole novel spoke to me; I never took it as a horror novel, it was always a tragedy in my eyes.  And all the other losers in King's books, too, spoke to me.  Not just the losers, either; the winners, as well, most of whom seemed like people worth aspiring to be.

I'm not going to go so far as to say that Stephen King's books got me through high school; that would be sensationalist exaggeration.  But they were a big part of what made it bearable.  No doubt about that in my mind.

Anyways, I graduated, and jumped more or less straight in to the college life, and I did so with a determination: I would not be the loser in college that I was in high school.  I figured it all boiled down to the same thing many another high-school dweeb has figured it boiled down to: man, just wait 'til I get someplace where nobody knows me, then I can really turn some things around.

Spoiler alert: it didn't work that way.  (Has it ever, for anyone?)

But let's not worry about that.  That's not what this post is about; this post is about the fact that during the summer of 1992, I had a spring in my step and a smile on my face.  I had a job (my first actual job -- and at the office I mention in the Pet Sematary section of this post, by the way), and whereas a lot of my friends thought I was crazy for starting classes during the summer break, I thought it was cool.  I enjoyed walking around campus, learning where all the buildings were and visiting the library and seeing all the new people, and most especially knowing that college was going to be a different sort of life for me than high school had been.  Ah, yes!  The unmistakable feel of optimism blowing through the air, wrapping you in its embrace as you went about you new daily routine!  Wonderful.

Things were not, in actuality, one whit different.  But I didn't know that; or if I did, I thought it was only because the changes had not actually kicked in yet.  But they would!  Any day now.

Turns out that you have to actually make things like that happen, but 1992 Bryant didn't know that.  And 2018 Bryant wonders something:

How can a person get through high school without learning that simplest of lessons?  How can a person be allowed to get through high school without learning that?

I was taught how to read, and how to do mathematics, and how to drive a car, and how to dissect a fetal pig; I was taught various history lessons, and how to block a defensive lineman when a fullback is behind you carrying a football, and so forth.

But I was never taught how to be a normal and functional social human being.  And not only that, I was never even taught the fact that it was MY responsibility to teach myself how to be that; never taught that if I failed to do so nobody else was ever going to pick up the slack.  I'd have earned an F in that class or maybe a D-), and if somebody had been there to actually GIVE me an F, maybe that would at least have been something useful.  A lot more useful than math has ever been to me, I can tell you that goddam much right the fuck now.

So maybe it's no surprise that while the optimism and the hope was there during those first couple of college semesters, the self-determination and drive were not.  Let's not blame poor old 1992 Bryant for it, though; he just thought it was a thing that happened somehow, so he kept on waiting, and waiting.  He figured that part of it out, though, eventually, but not for several more Stephen King books into the future, I am sorry to report.

Gerald's Game was released on or around July 13, which if I'm not mistaken was between the two terms that formed summer school at UA.  It was also around my birthday, and was also around the time my family went on our annual summer vacation to Gulf Shores.

Gulf Shores plays a crucial role in the blog's origin story, by the way.  My love of Stephen King was kicked off on our family vacation there in the summer of 1990, when my father told me about a review of The Stand that he'd read and mistakenly told me it was written by Steven Spielberg.  If you're interested enough to read more about that, you can do so here.  The short version is that I found out it was by Stephen King instead, read it despite the lack of Spielbergian authorship, and have been a massive King fan ever since.

Back to 1992.  I'd made a conscious decision to become a different person, but this certainly did not mean that I was going to give up being a Stephen King fan.  Why would I do that?!?  When Gerald's Game came out, I bought it, and (I'm assuming) waited until the first summer term ended to begin reading it.  I spent the ride down reading it.  I have no clue how far into it I already was when we left, but I have a vivid memory of reaching the degloving scene while we were still on the road.

It took all the fortitude I had in me not to make hurking noises, and it may even have required conscious effort not to straight-up vomit.  I am almost positive that I stopped reading lest I find myself (A) hurling up a damn storm and -- worse by far, potentially -- (B) having to explain what was going on.  Look, man, let's face facts: if you're a somewhat shy and retiring young man straight out of high school, and you're in a car with your parents and your younger brother, you do NOT want to have to explain the contents of fucking Gerald's Game.  This is not a thing to be desired.

It occurs to me now that I might have the chronology slightly wrong.  We may not have been driving down to Gulf Shores while I was reading that part; we may instead have been in the car driving from one destination in town to another.  And indeed, now that I stop to reflect on things, I am 99.9% positive that I actually bought my copy of Gerald's Game in a Gulf Stores bookstore I usually visited while we were there.  And now that I'm remembering things, I am fairly certain that not only did I buy Gerald's Game there, but that I also -- flush with cash from my first job (or perhaps lingering graduation-gift money) -- bought these:

I know for a fact that I bought all three at that bookstore, and that I was gobsmacked to find hardbacks of each in pristine condition; and I am fairly certain that I'd gone to the bookstore specifically to get Gerald's Game, and that I waited to get it until the vacation specifically to have a reason to go to it.  Hey, cool!  I love remembering stuff like this.

I also have a very vivid memory of being at a beachhouse, sitting alone in the house, reading while everyone else was outside.  This was not a beachhouse we were renting; we stayed in a condo.  However, one of my dad's cousins (who was married to a doctor) owned a beachhouse in town, and every summer, that side of my dad's family got together there, typically around the fourth of July (although it seems to have been later this particular year).  I got to see all these aunts and uncles and cousins that I typically only saw at Christmas otherwise, and I loved it, because I loved them all.

In terms of reading Gerald's Game, what I remember just as much as nearly hurking in a car is that it was about a woman trapped by herself in a room, all alone in the world, and that meanwhile, I was reading it alone in a room, but able to hear all these excellent family members outside.  Sometimes some of them would float inside for a while, to check on something in the kitchen or go to the bathroom or whatever, and they'd say something to me (ask me how college was), and I'd say something back (pretty good so far), and then we'd go back to our respective things.  I can only speak for myself, but I was pretty well content.

I finished the novel probably in a day or two, would be my guess, and was very confused and disturbed by a lot of it.  Asked, I'd have told you that I didn't like it very much.  It probably became my new least-favorite King novel.

In retrospect, this is not the least bit surprising.  Gerald's Game ain't the kind of thing a wet-behind-the-ears kid is going to grok.  This had happened to me before with King's books; not often, but Cujo flummoxed me, and so did Roadwork, and so did a lot of The Tommyknockers.  It was not a totally foreign experience to dislike a King book, but it was out of the ordinary, and I can remember being disappointed that my first new King novel post-high-school had been that one.

Rereading the novel last month, I found myself thinking of that version of me, and feeling a little bit haunted by the conjunction between the novel's content and my naive summer optimism.  There's no correlation between the two, really; there's not much in Gerald's Game that speaks directly to my own experiences.

Why, then, does this novel seem to be speaking to me as much as it is? 

It's a good question, and I'm guessing it's got something to do with the way in which my memories of reading it harmonize with the content.  But I think there's more to it than that.  Gerald's Game is, among other things, about the process of examining one's past so as to find a better future.  It's about reconciling oneself with the things with which one must be reconciled.  It's an admission that some damage can't be repaired, so it simply has to be embraced.  These are ideas that resonate with me.  Not for the reasons they matter to Jessie Burlingame, but that's no prerequisite, is it?


Good ol' Stephen King.  He meant a lot to me in high school, and has meant a lot to me ever since.  I'm still finding new aspects to the nature of that one-way relationship, even in books that I'd written off at one point in time.  A great deal of my life feels like an extension of that image of me sitting alone in that room, while the world goes on outside and I content myself with being removed from (but not entirely distant from) it.  It's no great chore to be content in that room; it comes sort of naturally for me, when the worries of the world and adulthood quiet down enough to permit it.  I think to some extent, that's just who I am: a guy in a room while everyone else is outside. 

Being that with a Stephen King book in hand seems a lot more agreeable than being one without.

I'm going to explore this novel over the course of three posts, each of which is going to be devoted to a small handful of topics.  There will be a fourth devoted to the Mike Flanagan movie adaptation, as well.

I wasn't sure how to structure these posts initially, so I opted to listen to my gut, which in this case told me to begin by considering the sad case of the dog who makes a meal or two out of Gerald Burlingame's stiffening corpse.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

In the Path of the Eclipse: "Gerald's Game" and "Dolores Claiborne" Revisited

Here are a few words from Stephen King, as quoted in an interview by Wallace Stroby (conducted September 16, 1991 and published in the March 1992 issue of Writer's Digest):
I thought for awhile that I could put [Gerald's Game] together with Dolores Claiborne and do one book.  Sometimes that happens.  I've done that before with Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight, where the stories actually seemed to group together, although they were novels.  But these things were a little bit longer and just would not be harnessed together.  So eventually I decided to do them separately.  Since I went to work on Gerald's Game first, I decided to go with that one.

It doesn't seem as if these plans ever got out of the just-thinkin'-'bout-it stage, so a what-if is all it is, and all it will likely ever be.

Regardless, it's an interesting idea.  I think a lot of Constant Readers who were around at the time these books came out probably still think of them as a one-two punch; not as formal as the one-two punch that is Desperation and The Regulators, maybe, but similar.

And at some point over the years, this would-have-been combination of the two novels even picked up a title: In the Path of the Eclipse.  I know of three secondary sources where that title is mentioned.  I'm sure there are plenty of others, but these are the three that came to mind for me:

  • 2001 -- In their book The Stephen King Universe, authors Stanley Wiater, Christopher Golden & Hank Wagner have this to say: "Originally intended to be one half of a single volume entitled In the Path of the Eclipse, Gerald's Game is a companion piece to King's next novel, Dolores Claiborne."
  • 2003 -- In his book The Essential Stephen King, Stephen J. Spignesi has this to say in his Did You Know? section for Dolores Claiborne:  "Dolores Claiborne and Gerald's Game were written 'in tandem,' so to speak, and were intended to be a two-volume set called In the Path of the Eclipse."
  • 2008 -- In his book Stephen King: A Primary Bibliography of the World's Most Popular Author, Justin Brooks mentions The Path of the Eclipse [sic (?)] in the sections of both of the component novels, adding the wrinkle that they were two parts of a planned trilogy alongside an unwritten third novel.

What I've been utterly unable to find is where those books got the title In the Path of the Eclipse (or the variation missing the word "in") from.  Was it some interview King gave?  A nonfiction piece of some sort?  A lecture or signing?  I do not know.  If you do, please let me know in the comments.  
Now that that's out of the way, I thought it might be fun to explore these two novels with a post that recognizes and embraces the ways in which they intersect; not merely in the literal sense, but also thematically.  There's a sort of danger in doing that, though: the points of literal crossover excepted, both of these novels stand firmly on their own, and should not be downgraded to being a mere subset of something else.  But I think we can avoid that pitfall; and even if we can't, I'll be exploring both novels individually, as well.

I'm not quite sure how many posts I'll be devoting to that exploration, but my tentative plan is for three each, plus one more for each of the two movie adaptations.  That's not set in stone yet, but that's my thinking as of now.  So yeah, I'll be giving them each their individual due; they deserve it, quite richly.

But first, let's have a look at the book that never was: In the Path of the Eclipse.  We're not going to go quite so far as to pretend that that book exists; I think that would taking the notion too far.  But we can consider the two books to be individual halves of a sort of whole even though they WERE published separately.

So howsabout let's do just that?

We'll begin by looking at the manner in which King established the eclipse itself.