Monday, May 02, 2011

Reader's Diary #709- Stephen King: Herman Wouk is Still Alive

Thanks to Loni who alerted me to this story last week.

Stephen King's "Herman Wouk is Still Alive," a story about a brutal car accident, the lives of those in the car and of those who witness it, is one of King's more realistic ventures than the supernatural stuff he is most often known for.

It's heavy and emotional and thought-provoking. Thankfully, the comments that follow the story echo many of the thoughts I had while reading, which is a refreshing change from the comments that follow YouTube Videos (last night's most recent comments on Rebecca Black's "Friday" video read "Osama watched this video and killed himself"). At the Atlantic where King's story was published there are, of course, the typical personal insults ("You are a moron."), off-topic chatter, and over-the-top rants, but for the most part people were actually have intelligent discussion about the story, some questioning the same thing I did as I read it. The women driving the car were poor, overweight, one was sexually abused by her father, single parents of a lot of kids, they ate crap, and were quite frankly, stereotypical of lowerclass white folks, or in harsher terms, white trash. Commentators questioned whether or not King could authentically write from such a perspective. He was, apparently, quite poor himself once upon a time, but that doesn't mean he knows what it's like anymore by any means, especially for a single mother. But while those commentators duked it out over whether or not King was perpetuating stereotypes or if he was unfortunately on-the-money, I decided I didn't care. In the context of the story, they were believable characters. I didn't get that King had a checklist of traits he had to ensure made it into the story or that he was making some sort of point on class, I got that he had a story to tell. I find King hit or miss, but I've never found him even remotely pretentious. And this story, dark and cynical as it is, is a hit.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

4 comments:

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I participated in Short Story Monday for the first time today. My post is here. Enjoyed your thoughts on Stephen King!

Loni said...

I didn't read the comments in The Atlantic, maybe I will now. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I also think King has his good and bad, and this was definitely a good story.

This is what I was going to read last week:
http://loniseye.blogspot.com/2011/05/design-for-life-by-emma-jones.html

John Mutford said...

I've been thinking about this story all day (which bumps the story up another notch for me) and I think I sold King short on the thought he put into these characters. There's a question asked at the very end of the story (I won't ruin it for you here) and in hindsight, I think King was really spending the entire story answering that question, for better or worse.

Teddy Rose said...

I read Loni's review as well and downloaded the story to read.

I read one Carol's Notebook reviewed a couple of weeks ago: http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2011/05/ponies-by-kij-johnson.html