Saturday, May 26, 2007


Notes From the Underground by Tyson Blue

Just to keep the momentum up, and since I’m still waiting to get a copy of BLAZE, I thought I’d take a few minutes to post a brief review of the two fine King limited edition books which have been produced lately by a couple of small presses.

The first, ‘SALEM’S LOT, came out a few yeas back from Centipede Press in a large-format edition with photo illustrations, giving a nice presentation to King’s second published novel. But the book is most noteworthy for restoring a number of scenes that were cut out of the original novel, as well as some that were substantially revised for the final book. This includes the famous rat-down-the-throat sequence, which was allegedly excised at the command of Nelson Doubleday himself, who, according to King’s account, took one look at the scene and said “Not in MY publishing house!”

The only thing I really don’t care for regarding this book is the fact that this material was presented as if it were a DVD, with all of the scenes appended after the original published novel, like deleted or alternate scenes, rather than integrated into the text where they should be, as was done with the unexpurgated version of The STAND.

The book also includes “One For the Road” and “Jerusalem’s Lot”, thus collecting all of King’s writings on the subject of Jerusalem’s Lot in one volume, which alone would make it a worthwhile addition to any King collection.

Then there was Subterranean Press'2006 book, a tenth-anniversary edition of what is probably my favorite King novel of them all, THE GREEN MILE. This is not simply because I was involved in the production of the Frank Darabont film version, but more because it is the one novel of King’s to which I find myself drawn back more than any other. Although I have read all of King’s books at least twice, most of them thrice, I have read TGM at least six or seven times, and cannot even begin to tell you the number of times I have listened to it in various audio formats.

I won’t say that I find something new in it every time – to the best of my knowledge, King isn’t skipping into my home at night and doing revisions in my copy – if that ever happens, I’ll post the additions online so you can keep up – but I do find it as rich and rewarding with each re-reading as I did the first time I read it back in 1996.

For this version, Subterranean has presented the novel as it was originally published, in six separate volumes. Each is hardbound, in green cloth, with silver stamped lettering. All are encased in a matching slipcase. The books contains over fifty new illustrations by Mark Geyer, who provided illustrations for the original publication, as well as a new introduction from King’s agent, Ralph Vicinanza. As an added bonus, the press included a section at the end of the story entitled “Those Who Walked the Green Mile”, listing the names of everyone who purchased a copy of this edition. Of course, as someone who, during the course of my work on the film, literally walked the Green Mile many, many times, and one of the select few who have actually sat in, and been strapped into, Old Sparky, I was pleased to have my name on that list.

I’m not sure if there are any copies of this edition still available from Subterranean Press, but if you can get hold of one, it is well worth the effort to have such a lavish presentation of this most wonderful book.

Late last year, the legendary John LeCarre published his latest novel, THE MISSION SONG, a novel which, like his earlier THE RUSSIA HOUSE, was uncannily prescient. Where that novel predicted with uncanny accuracy the decline and fall of the Soviet Union, this novel takes a look at the extent to which a supposedly democratic government is willing to go to protect its own interests.

In this novel, Bruno Salvador, the illegitimate child of an Irish missionary and Congolese headman's daughter grows up to be one of the most adept translators of African languages in England.This brings him to the attention of British Intelligence, who essentially waylay from his regular job as a court interpreter and dispatch him to an island in the North Sea, to clandestinely eavesdrop on a secret conference which is going on.

When Bruno, or Saqlvo as he is known, begins to realize the impact his work is having on developing events in his native continent, and the perfervid depths to which people are willing to sink to achieve their ends, he finds himself in a moral crisis, and has a life-changing decision to make.

LeCarre, who has for decades been famous for raising the spy novel to the level of literature, spins a tale which is as timely and infuriating as his other recent novels, such as THE CONSTANT GARDENER and THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL. The novel is also available in a compelling audiobook version, read by David Oyelowu.However you experience this novel, you are certain to find it compelling and thought-provoking.

That’s about it for this go-round; wow, two posts in two weeks! Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with word on BLAZE. Until then, be careful, read some Stephen King, and write your Democratic Congressman and tell him or her what a pussy he or she is for caving to the Forces of Evil.




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