Master storyteller Stephen King presents the classic, terrifying New York Times bestseller of those caught between the surreal forces of good versus evil in a small suburban Ohio town.
“The red van rolls past…humming and glinting. …Things are happening fast now, although no one on Poplar Street realizes it yet.”
It’s a gorgeous midsummer afternoon along Poplar Street in the peaceful suburbia of Wentwort, Ohio, where life is as pleasant as you ever dreamed it could be. But that’s all about to end in blaze of gunfire and sudden violence, forever shattering the tranquility and the good times here. For the physical makeup of Poplar Street itself is now being transformed into a surreal landscape straight out of the active imagination of the innocent and vulnerable Seth Garin—an autistic boy who’s been exposed to and possessed by a horrific, otherworldly force of evil, one with sadistic and murderous intent and who is willing to use whatever means necessary to grow ever stronger.
Why revive the Bachman byline more than a decade after Stephen King was found lurking behind it? Not for thematic reasons. This devilishly entertaining yarn of occult mayhem married to mordant social commentary is pure King and resembles little the four nonsupernatural (if science-fictional) pre-Thinner Bachmans. The theme is the horror of TV, played out through the terrors visited upon quiet Poplar Street in the postcard-perfect suburban town of Wentworth, Ohio, when a discorporeal psychic vampire settles inside an autistic boy obsessed with TV westerns and kiddie action shows and brings screen images to demented, lethal life. The long opening scene, in which characters and vehicles from the TV show Motokops 2200 (think Power Rangers) sweep down the street, spewing death by firearm, is a paragon of action-horror. The story rarely flags after that, evoking powerful tension and, at times, emotion. The premise owes a big unacknowledged debt to the classic Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life"; echoes of earlier Kings resound often as well--the psychic boy (The Shining), a writer-hero (Misery, The Dark Half), etc. But King makes hay in this story in which anything can happen, and does, including the warping of space-time and the savage deaths of much of his large cast. The narrative itself warps fantastically, from prose set in classic typeface to handwritten journals to drawings to typewritten playscript and so on. So why the Bachman byline? Probably for fear that yet another new King in 1996 in addition to six volumes of The Green Mile and Viking's forthcoming Desperation might glut the market. Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is certain: call him Bachman or call him King, the bard of Bangor is going to hit the charts hard and vast with this white-knuckler knockout. Main selection of the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Mystery Guild and Science Fiction Book Club.
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Scary, crazy, funny