The Talisman

I have never met Stephen King, but I believe the man must be a saint. No amount of posturing on his collaborator’s part about efforts to achieve a “common style” can persuade me that King did not single-handedly and entirely unaided write the vast majority of the pages contained within this overlong book. Now and then, at intervals of hundreds of pages, one stumbles over a slow-moving passage bearing the Straubian thumb-prints of piled-up dependant clauses, pompous diction, a self-conscious and nearly ironic use of slang quite different from King’s command of demotic language, and the pointless elaboration of unnecessary details, as if the fellow imagined that distinguishing the exact shade of grey on the underside of a leaf observed for a moment by his hero could bring the scene to life. I suppose it must have been he who inserted the names of the jazz saxophonists Zoot Sims and Dexter Gordon, but King’s allusions to rock groups are far more suited to the text. I happen to know that after a brief infatuation with the work of J.R.R. Tolkien Straub lost all interest in fantasy fiction. That King continues to pretend that Peter played a significant role in the creation of this novel is testimony to his loyalty and generosity, to say nothing of his compassion.

Putney Tyson Ridge