John Harding at this year's Guildford Readers Day who made me face up to my
long-standing prejudice. John is the author of One Big Damn Puzzler, a featured book in nb33, and, most recently,
Florence and Giles.
on the day was to talk about his favourite reads of 2010 which he did
eloquently using the pile of books he'd brought along as visual aids. I always take
it as a good sign when people actually want to hold the physical book - it
shows a personal investment.
my heart blenched when I saw a Stephen King tome lurking. In my mind Stephen
King = horror, but once John started to talk about Under the Dome he became an evangelist. He eulogised about the
author’s ability to create a cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter (and there
are a lot of them!), to manage a cast of over sixty (including three dogs) and
still present a gripping and plausible plot. His admiration for Mr King was downright patent.
tried it, my very first Stephen King and . . . he was absolutely right. OK, if
you stand back from the inexorable action you can pick some holes
but I have raced through 732 pages so far and have reached that point where
there aren’t enough pages left.
many subtle cultural references, such as the baddie having photos on his desk
of him with Sarah Palin and, separately,
Tiger Woods, ‘who had seemed like a very nice negro.’ How many
inferences can be drawn from such a simple phrase? There’s also my favourite
line, so far, when things are reaching a hiatus and ordinary people are needed
to stand up and be counted: ‘Who better to recruit than a librarian when you’re
dealing with a fledgling dictatorship?’ How nice to have librarians presented
in a positive light.
I admit I
listed Shawshank Redemption as one of
the books/short stories to discuss at our next Readers Gathering because
I loved the film. But now I’m looking forward to reading the whole collection.
And after that I may well need another King-size tome (but not one of the
horror titles – I’m too squeamish!)