Stephen King first published The Gunslinger in 1982. I probably read it for the first time in about 1990 or so, and I’ve been reading and re-reading these Dark Tower books ever since. Because ka is like a wheel, and I really can’t do anything about that, can I?
I was nearing the end of my most recent re-read (see my reviews of all the other books), and suddenly found that I simply couldn’t read the second half of The Dark Tower again. If you’ve read it, you know what part I stopped at. I didn’t want to read that part again, so I put it down.
And suddenly a year went by. And I still didn’t want to read that part again. I thought about starting again, seeing if I could find my mojo. The book starts off with a bang — the scenes at — and especially below — The Dixie Pig are some of the best action scenes King has ever written. The crazy tunnels under New York City that lead to other worlds are brilliant and fascinating. But I just couldn’t do it. Even though I love these books, I just didn’t want to. Because, Algul Siento.
And here, Constant Reader, you might find some spoilers.
Even though the book has so many other amazing sections, I just couldn’t go through that battle again. Yes, it was hard to read what happened to Pere Callahan. Yes, what happens to Jake is brutal and horrible. Of course, how Oy’s story ends is among the most heartbreaking in modern literature. But you know I’m talking about Eddie. I simply couldn’t handle reading the words telling me that my Eddie was dead.*
But then a strange thing happened. We decided that we couldn’t stand another minute in our 1955 kitchen, and we planned a new one using IKEA.** And the closest IKEA is over 30 minutes away — not counting Beltway traffic. So I’ve been spending A LOT of time in my car, driving back and forth over the past 6 weeks. And to keep me company, I got myself the audiobook version of this book. And I loved it.
I would find myself sitting in traffic on 495, crying about Oy and yelling at Patrick Danville. So grossed out about Mordred that I even missed my exit one time. Amazed by Jake’s sacrifice, devastated by the unquestioning love of Sheemie, and impressed with the bravery of regular folks like John Cullum and Irene Tassenbaum.
And more than anything, I was surprised by how much I didn’t hate Susannah. Susannah is not my favorite character. Not even close. But listening, instead of reading, gave me a different feel for her and really made me see her in a more positive light. I still don’t 100% buy her amazing love story with Eddie, but I was closer to accepting it this time around.
And in listening, I found the end of the story to work even better. To understand that Roland’s journey is one that he’s made countless times, to pick up on the clues left here and there, to feel his pain when he realizes what is happening to him — all of this really worked. I actually felt sorry for Roland, which I almost never do.
Of course, I still hate what happened to Eddie. But listening to it was somehow easier than reading it. I felt like I wasn’t alone, if that makes sense, and that the narrator and all of the other characters could mourn Eddie with me.
Now that I have my shiny, new audible account, I plan on going back and listening to all of the books again (along with the books that are interwoven with the series, like It, Insomnia, The Stand, and ‘Salems Lot). I’m really looking forward to it.
Until next time, Constant Reader, long days and pleasant nights.
*And yes, I know that Eddie is a fictional character. I even put him on my top-5 fictional characters list last week on Pajiba. It was nice to see I wasn’t the only one to include him.
**If anyone out there is considering an IKEA kitchen, please feel free to AMA. Its been an educational process, to say the least.