The Dark Tower Palaver Part III

This is not a review about the Dark Tower.

I have so many things I want to say about this book but whenever I get down typing it, I come up with nothing. Reading it was… well, a unique experience, like punching yourself and wondering how that happened.

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The Dark Tower is King’s Magnus Opus. An equivalent of 4,250 pages, it certainly belongs under the Magnus Opus category and reading it was my biggest addition to my reading list last 2015.

I have these phases, mind you, where I get totally hung up with something and it occupies me for a certain period of time. I recently discovered Stephen King then and went through this phase. I tried reading all his books for a year and get drunk with its lore. I downloaded many of King’s book-to-movie adaptations, read all the comics I could find in stores and spread his stories to friends like a child proud of her toy. I even brought him up while I was being interviewed for a job, like hell, his books were the only thing in my mind, why not mention it. It’s like I drunk a bag’s worth of coffee and released a year’s worth of energy to King’s books.

After that, I returned to my normal life, but not without its repercussions. I still dream about vampires and Captain Tripps, and whenever I hear or see King’s name, it’s enough to make my head whirl towards it.

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Now, the Dark Tower.

I’ve read many novels and series that challenged the length of the Bible and a Miriam-Webster’s dictionary (which I tried reading when I was in fourth grade because the smart kids were doing it) (I didn’t finish it) but there was something about the Dark Tower series that took a toll in my patience. This novel exhausted me, it brought me to different states of catharsis– some of inexplicable sadness, some of inexplicable joy, some of inexplicable inexplicability. I swayed along the road, picking up other books when the series felt too heavy for me, sometimes skimming through pages to save myself time or leave a page untouched for months. It was a hard book to read! Some characters didn’t connect with me, there were scenes that didn’t made much sense, some were repetitions of the same chapter and simply put, it was so long that I have forgotten the face of my father.

It took me a year-half to finish The Dark Tower. I was doing my thesis that time too and it was a bad idea—reading King’s book, I mean. I almost forgot I had a thesis. Fortunately, the drawbacks of the series reminded me of it and if King could write 4,250 pages about a gunslinger running towards a tower, then I could finish my damn thesis.

The last book in the series was another exhilarating ride as Roland and his Ka-tet grind through vampires, psychics, monsters, spiders, paradoxes and millions of other stuff that King pulls out of his massive head. The book has jarring doses of action and stillness that pokes at your temperament and I found myself grinding my teeth and humming a happy tune at intervals. The last book that brought me into such bipolar state was 50 Shades of the Grey, but that was in an entire different level and EL James is no Stephen King.

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There were huge scenes in the book where the characters do absolutely nothing and yet King makes it feel important and how should I say it, warm and real. You could feel Susannah’s motherly kisses, Roland’s dead-eye stare, or the warmth of Oy’s fur rubbing against your cheek. You could feel their discomforts– the icy cold snow, the dusty desert, the running and trekking, and wearing deer hide for years. You could feel the characters. These people (and animals) are so fucking real, I don’t know how King does it. There are characters that belong to fiction—they feel like characters in a book and while you could empathize with them, you know they’re not real. And then there was King, whose characters jump off the pages and you realize that you know these people. A person you happen to pass by in a mall, a guard that greets you every morning, your brother who likes games and weird shit, the taxi driver bringing you home—anyone. I know these guys, I just didn’t see them the way King does.

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Some people say the series is a huge sham, others loved it, others were in-between and I understand why. The Dark Tower was King’s fucking life. In retrospect, all his books undergo different transition periods that mirror King’s. He wrote the series for 20 freaking years and you could see the changes he underwent through his works. The Gunslinger was a bit awkward; The Drawing of the Three is your puberty; The Wastelands has found itself; Wizard and Glass is a fully grown adult; and the last three books was an adult trying to grasp life’s meaning.

The book feels like growing up again. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you don’t, sometimes you’re in-between, and sometimes you choose not to. This was Roland’s journey and King’s life, and I’m thankful I joined the adventure.

We got an A on our thesis, by the way.

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