One good thing about forgetting about something is when you remember, especially when it's a surprise remembering.
I was flipping through a Diamond Previews ordering catalog (this is a monthly phone book for comics, books, and specialty toys) when, near the back, my heart fluttered. I was looking at the next Dark Tower book available for preorder. My eyes floated down to the price and I about choked on my gum. $50. I had never paid more than $20 for a book. The reason this was listed in the Diamond Preview catalog was because well known comic book artist, Dave McKean, was producing the visual images that would accompany this next book in the series.
I noticed that this was a special edition hardcover (I had heard about these before) that come out before the mass marketed hardcover. Now was my chance to own one and it just wasn't any special edition - it was The Dark Tower IV. The past 5 years were soon forgotten (actually it was 6 if you take in account when The Waste Lands was actually published and when I bought mine) and I was back in step on the Path of the Beam. Some unknown force came over me and I had to order this Wizard and Glass.
The book finally came to my comic book dealer (I had installed a payment plan to have it paid off by the time it did) and soon I was holding it in my hands. I gingerly opened the book a couple of times inspecting every detail when it dawned on me that there was no way I could read this book. Not the one I was holding in my hands. This was the limited edition and I could do some serious monetary damage to it just by reading it(like breaking the spine, ruffling the pages, etc...). So I sucked up the price of keeping something in mint condition and went straight to the bookstore and bought the mass marketed trade paperback. This version was the only one at the normal bookstores which made me feel better about my decision not to read the hardcover.
It was a bit hard, like I expected, mainly because over the time I had forgotten small details that make the stories so rich, but once again I was fully engrossed in this new tale - again a silent observer into the quest of Roland of Gilead for his Tower. Soon I realized that most of this tale was not going forward but backwards. After a bit of traveling (Eddie Dean had solved Blaine [Blaine's a Pain] the Mono's deathly riddle), we were all sitting around a campfire in Mid-World listening to Roland tell a tale about his only true love, Susan Delago. In a story that reminded me of one of my other all time favorite Stephen King books, The Eyes of the Dragon, I was once again pulled back in to the quest, bags packed, and destined not to look back.
[End Part 2]
Sunday, September 26, 2004
One Last Visit With an Old Friend
Part 1(of 4)
In 1988 I met Roland Deschain of Gilead. The first meeting with The Gunslinger was almost a brief one. He seemed interesting enough, but his adventure across the desert of this strange world, chasing the Man in Black, seemed fragmented with lots of loose ends. His story, for me, was strained, hard to get really interested in, and a little confusing. But the storyteller of his travels was someone not to question, so I proceeded reading his tale with great alacrity and vigilance.
A year later I finished Roland's first chronicled adventure on his way to the Dark Tower Taking so long to read such a thin novel - thin for Stephen King anyway - the chances of me continuing this series seemed slim, Stephen King or no Stephen King.
Some might call it KA that I picked up the second novel, The Drawing of Three where The Gunslinger's tale continued. This novel was ever bit three times the size of the first which would, if I completed it, would by far be the longest novel I had ever read. That was strike two against it. The first being the memory of how much trouble I had with the first one. But KA would have its way as I timidly opened the first page and began reading. This time, however, it would only take a week to finish this far superior tale. What this second part did for me was to either tie up loose ends from the first part or, the ones it didn't tie up, make them make better sense. So I took up stride on the path behind Roland, Jake, Eddie, and Odetta/Detta/Susannah as a willing observant to their quest for this Dark Tower.
But then the stories stopped.
After finishing the second part of Stephen King's story, inspired by Robert Browning's poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, I eagerly went in search of the third book. When I could not find it I started to panic because I was so ready to continue and thought if I had to wait I would never get back into the story. One again I failed to realize how strongly I was tied to this KA-TET. Two years after reading the second tale the third finally appeared on the shelves and I fell back in step like I had never left as we continued our journey across The Waste Lands of Mid World.
And the stories stopped again.
This time I knew the series would continue. I knew this because: The popularity of the series had grown, the bookstores couldn't keep many in the stores, and the story was so damn good. I thought this time it wouldn't take as long, that Mr. King knew he had a hit and would churn out this series like he did most his other works, one after the other after the other... After a LONG three year wait, I, and thousands of other readers who were waiting for the next installment, wrote Stephen King. We all have the hope of getting a letter back saying, "Next month Constant Reader!" Instead, what I got was a postcard in the mail directing my further inquiries to an address where his fan mail is requested to be sent. This was because I had inside information give me his personal address in Bangor, Maine. Down below the the last typed word was a handwritten assurance that there would be a fourth part. Had Stephen King written this? I wasn't sure because there was no signature, but I HAD mailed my letter straight to his house. It was with great anticipation that I read that assurance over and over. Next month? Six months? It never said when, but it had to be soon. Sometime during that next year I lost my postcard and during the following year I had all but forgot about the KA-TET of Gunslingers.
This had become way more than a simple story. It had become a drug. And like all drug addictions, my withdraw symptoms were strong at first but lessened over time. After five years, all the symptoms had seemed to pass, my life had changed directions a few times, and I had grown up a bit. Would I still want to grab my gear and follow the Path of the Beam again?
I wasn't sure...
[End Part 1]
Thursday, September 23, 2004
Coming soon are a couple pieces I will be finishing writing the next couple of days. I've taken writing in WORD first to avoid blog mess-ups, grammer, and spelling errors (for the most part).
Couple happenings of late - I've been hired as part-time/temporary employee at ETSU in the long distance education department. I am a behind the scenes guy who runs the remote controlled cameras that allow the offcampus sites to view the classrooms on the ETSU campus, although I am stationed at an off campus site (but still in JC).
Tonight (last night since it's after 12am) Rex and myself spent a long evening editing Snapper Revenge which fits the title of this entry as well.