My sixth re read....

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AchtungBaby

Well-Known Member
Dec 5, 2011
3,856
15,508
#1
hi all. We haven't had a good discussion of 'Salem's Lot in a while so I thought I'd start a thread :) I'm currently rereading King's works in order. Some thoughts from this reread (so far):

- I'd always thought of the characters -- even Ben -- to be a bit 2D. They've really come alive in this reading for me.

- It's amazing how King can frighten with so few words. In many places, he leaves things to the reader's imagination (what Hubie Marsten made his wife do before killing her being just one of many examples).

- I doubt King has ever been homophobic, but it's interesting to me how many times non-stereotypical, "sensitive" guys are referred to as "queer" or "homo" in this book. Then again, you gotta consider when it was written-- the early/mid-70s. It's just interesting to me, and I think we had a thread about this a while back?

I'm just really enjoying this reread. Can't wait to do The Shining around mid-June or so.
 

skimom2

Just moseyin' through...
Oct 9, 2013
15,675
92,042
USA
#2
'Salem's Lot is one of my very favorite books by Mr. King, and probably the one I've read the most often. One thing I like is the subtlety of his characterizations, stuff that I didn't really 'get' when I was younger. He paints his people in this one with quick brushstrokes, but his language is so very carefully chosen. I missed that when I was younger and didn't have the emotional maturity to understand how (for one example) seeing Miranda's shoe at the crash site shaped Ben--what it really meant for his character. Or why the outline of Susan's teenage years was an exposition of the young woman she became--how her relationship with her mother made her actions later in the book inevitable. It's a matter of learning adult emotional perspective, I think, that brings the depth of Mr. King's characters alive :)

What you said about Hubie and Birdie is a great example of Mr. King's love for and use of language: by carefully choosing his words (and GOD is he a master of this), Mr. King tells us what we need to know and lets us scare ourselves. This is largely why I hope he never explicitly tells us the story of what happened at the Battle of Jericho Hill (if you've read the DT series). So far, he's given us just enough that as individuals we have imagined our own battle, made our own heroes in his world (mine even has a soundtrack--lol). It's his mastery of language that's made that possible. He knows where to leave linguistic 'blank spaces' in which his characters live. If he explained it, filled in the spaces, there's little doubt in my mind that it would be disappointing.

We hit that language thing again with his use of the words you mention. He's dropped us into the heads of his characters, and right or wrong, that is the vernacular of THOSE men (or women) at THAT time. If he'd avoided exposing the way people actually talk, it would have been a lie; revisionist literature, if you will. It was the times, for sure, but it was (and is) also the people. One of my favorite and guiding quotes from Mr. King is from his afterword in Full Dark, No Stars, and it goes something like this (It's too late for this lazy, tired person to go grab the book for an exact quote, so you're getting an approximation--lol): "For the writer who kowtows to fashion and refuses to acknowledge the way actual people behave and speak, I have nothing but contempt." Isn't that a nifty (approximate) quote? One has to suppose that he couldn't sleep with himself if he did it himself.
 

Haunted

This is my favorite place
Mar 26, 2008
17,060
29,416
The woods are lovely dark and deep
#4
'Salem's Lot was my first of Mr. King's literary jaunts and I think it will always be one of my favorites. I have only read it again half as many times as you but the points that you make were most evident in my re-reads. The story and the characters and the building dread will always be the very best in horror story telling.
 

AchtungBaby

Well-Known Member
Dec 5, 2011
3,856
15,508
#5
'Salem's Lot is one of my very favorite books by Mr. King, and probably the one I've read the most often. One thing I like is the subtlety of his characterizations, stuff that I didn't really 'get' when I was younger. He paints his people in this one with quick brushstrokes, but his language is so very carefully chosen. I missed that when I was younger and didn't have the emotional maturity to understand how (for one example) seeing Miranda's shoe at the crash site shaped Ben--what it really meant for his character. Or why the outline of Susan's teenage years was an exposition of the young woman she became--how her relationship with her mother made her actions later in the book inevitable. It's a matter of learning adult emotional perspective, I think, that brings the depth of Mr. King's characters alive :)

What you said about Hubie and Birdie is a great example of Mr. King's love for and use of language: by carefully choosing his words (and GOD is he a master of this), Mr. King tells us what we need to know and lets us scare ourselves. This is largely why I hope he never explicitly tells us the story of what happened at the Battle of Jericho Hill (if you've read the DT series). So far, he's given us just enough that as individuals we have imagined our own battle, made our own heroes in his world (mine even has a soundtrack--lol). It's his mastery of language that's made that possible. He knows where to leave linguistic 'blank spaces' in which his characters live. If he explained it, filled in the spaces, there's little doubt in my mind that it would be disappointing.

We hit that language thing again with his use of the words you mention. He's dropped us into the heads of his characters, and right or wrong, that is the vernacular of THOSE men (or women) at THAT time. If he'd avoided exposing the way people actually talk, it would have been a lie; revisionist literature, if you will. It was the times, for sure, but it was (and is) also the people. One of my favorite and guiding quotes from Mr. King is from his afterword in Full Dark, No Stars, and it goes something like this (It's too late for this lazy, tired person to go grab the book for an exact quote, so you're getting an approximation--lol): "For the writer who kowtows to fashion and refuses to acknowledge the way actual people behave and speak, I have nothing but contempt." Isn't that a nifty (approximate) quote? One has to suppose that he couldn't sleep with himself if he did it himself.
All great thoughts! And yeah, I've read DT--don't know if I ever want The Battle of Jericho Hill to be written. I feel like it's been built up and could never live up to the hype.....

SL has never been in my top 10 of King's novels, but I feel like it belongs there now.
 

Sunlight Gardener

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2013
373
1,250
#6
I just re-read this a few weeks ago after like 10 years. It was every bit as good as I remembered. Great characters....and I love the way the impending sense of dread grows as the story goes on. It's like there is no letup in the tension.
 
Likes: AchtungBaby

fljoe0

Cantre Member
Apr 5, 2008
14,490
61,253
57
120 miles S of the Pancake/Waffle line
#7
- I doubt King has ever been homophobic, but it's interesting to me how many times non-stereotypical, "sensitive" guys are referred to as "queer" or "homo" in this book. Then again, you gotta consider when it was written-- the early/mid-70s. It's just interesting to me, and I think we had a thread about this a while back?
I was a teenager in the 70s and there were many people that openly talked like that. It's not pretty but that's just the way it was.
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
8,931
59,123
53
sweden
#8
I t was my first King and i missed many subtleties, like the shoe Skimom mentioned, but was enthralled. When i read it again i was not longer a teenager and slightly more mature and what struck me was the skill with using relatively few words to paint such a complex picture and characters. It is definitely in my top ten list. The language, the characters are very alive the upbuilding towards the end is great. And as usual in a King book the great characters does not stop at the major players like Ben, Susan, Callahan, Mark or Jimmy but exiends to all the bitplayers too, Susans mother is great and there is many examples in the doomed town of Salems Lot! All that makes you be there. You actually walk the streets of that city. In that sense it has a likeness to IT because we do know, in spite of them appearing in few scenes characters like Mr. Keene, the grouchy pharmacist and Mrs. Douglas, Bens teacher are alive.
 
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