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The Bachman Books

I recently reread the Bachman books, which I think are a pretty underrated part of Stephen King's body of work. I like how Father Callahan from Salem's Lot just sort of strolled into Roadwork and lived incognito as Phil Drake for a while before proceeding to his Dark Tower adventures. And it amuses the hell out of me how The Running Man is set in such a completely 1970s vision of a dystopian future: you can kill people on TV, but there's legalized pot, smoking still allowed everywhere, phone booths, Naugahyde and chrome furniture in rich people's houses, and no tolerance of queerness.

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
bart_calendar
Jul. 6th, 2012 03:20 am (UTC)
For all of my love of Stephen King his approach to homosexuality has always been troubling.

Even in The Dome, a relatively recent book, he has the closeted lesbian rambling about how "crack snacking" is something shameful - and then has her be one of the first people killed and in a particularly violent way.

To say nothing of Harold Launder in The Stand who is clearly queer and ends up having to side with the devil because of it.
docbrite
Jul. 6th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
I agree. I can deal with the older stuff as youthful insecurity, but when I come across something like the "crack-snacking" in Under The Dome or the homicidal dyke librarian in "Big Driver," I always feel like, "Really, Steve? Can't you just let this go for your daughter's sake, if nothing else?"

The "queer-stomping" in The Running Man is pretty clearly depicted as a Bad Thing, though.
bart_calendar
Jul. 6th, 2012 04:28 pm (UTC)
The thing is Tabatha probably props him up on this.

I've only read one of her books (and honestly can't remember the name of it) but there's this long involved section where this woman who is just out of a bad relationship meets a dude who is clearly awesome and clearly into her but then she's like "have you been with a man" and he's like "um, yeah, once or twice, but I'm 95 percent into women. How did you know?" and she's like "a woman can always tell these things about a man, it's how we protect ourselves." and then she rejects him - and this is portrayed as a WISE JUDGEMENT on her part.

I think he and Tabatha are much more New England Christian Conservative then their public image lets on.
docbrite
Jul. 7th, 2012 02:00 am (UTC)
That would make me sad. But I shan't speculate on their personal life.
threemilechild
Jul. 7th, 2012 08:46 am (UTC)
I thought Harold had a thing for Francine?
bart_calendar
Jul. 7th, 2012 11:17 am (UTC)
He's obsessed with her, because King wouldn't go all out and say Harold was gay, but the way he's reacted to and treated screams mid 1970s repressed homosexuality (remember, he ends up with the on girl who he knows will refuse to let him fuck her.)
ext_2055244
Jul. 7th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
..and then proceeds to have copious amounts of anal sex with her, only stopping there because Nadine knew she couldn't let Harold go any further because of Randall Flagg. And as far as the Frannie obsession goes, isn't it mentioned (concerning his pre-plague life) that he masturbated to Frannie? Doesn't sound remotely like a gay issue to me, just a situation where an uncool kid is ignored by the cool kids and grows bitter and twisted.
RachelLizMills
Jul. 6th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
King as Bachman
I'm rereading Desperation and it finally dawned upon me that King is a christian. That's fine but I wonder why such an obvious fact eluded me for 30 years. In Desperation, the young boy has a conversion experience due to the recovery of his best friend from a coma. It's very touching. King can write that kind of thing very well.

I've been wondering whether to read the Bachman books, and I probably will now after what you've said.

Finally, King *is* problematic about sexuality and gender, but I suppose I don't read him for insight into this. His main characters always seem to be versions of himself - white, male, straight. I can't remember how he deals with writing female characters.

bart_calendar
Jul. 6th, 2012 06:18 am (UTC)
Re: King as Bachman
He actually does female characters very well when he wants to.

Fran is well developed in The Stand as are Carrie White and Susan Snell in Carrie and Delores Clayborn. He can get lazy and fuck it up (Rose Madder) but he's also capable of fucking up male characters when he's lazy (whatever the dude's name is in Cell.)
docbrite
Jul. 6th, 2012 04:17 pm (UTC)
Re: King as Bachman
I love Desperation and think it's also an underrated book, possibly because of the overt religious material. King has stated that he has little use for organized religion, but does believe in God.
spiderbabyx
Jul. 6th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
I LOVE Running Man, but it's definitely not a future I'd want to live in either.
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