Reading Group Discussion: The Long Walk (Tuesday, July 30th)

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GNTLGNT

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Jun 15, 2007
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....great, great story and what a showcase of a young writers raw materials.......despite the somewhat nebulous ending, this tale grabs one's eyes and guts and never lets up.....it may be about a "walk", but the pacing is like a roadrunner on meth.....I physically hurt after I read this the first time.....
 

Spideyman

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Jul 10, 2006
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As Bev Vincent pointed out, this was SK first written work.
So many elements within. The descriptions were extremely vivid.

I do have a thought/ question--- those readers of my era.
Does anyone feel this was a metaphor for the Vietnam War? Written during that period/ the draft being televised/ seeing friends die.
And the ending-- describes what it is like to be the survivor while others died around you? Just some thoughts.......
 

Doc Creed

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Nov 18, 2015
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....great, great story and what a showcase of a young writers raw materials.......despite the somewhat nebulous ending, this tale grabs one's eyes and guts and never lets up.....it may be about a "walk", but the pacing is like a roadrunner on meth.....I physically hurt after I read this the first time.....
It is such a powerful book, and you're right about the pacing. The intensity grows with each mile they walk. King expertly heightens the tension with external things (characters "getting their ticket", storms and crowds) and with internal things like Garraty's frustration about being a virgin and the relentlessness of the road occupying space in his own head. So surreal.
Also, I like how the characters talk about stupid things; things which are important to young men (BTW, no women in the race) like masturbation, crude jokes, more sex, power plays, and loads of other topics. The conversation often swerves from humorous to heart stopping. Garraty even fears he's losing his mind.
The ending just takes it to another level.
 

Doc Creed

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As Bev Vincent pointed out, this was SK first written work.
So many elements within. The descriptions were extremely vivid.

I do have a thought/ question--- those readers of my era.
Does anyone feel this was a metaphor for the Vietnam War? Written during that period/ the draft being televised/ seeing friends die.
And the ending-- describes what it is like to be the survivor while others died around you? Just some thoughts.......
I was going to ask that same question about the Vietnam War. I saw some book reviews where this was brought up but I didn't get that vibe the first time I read it. I insinuated this into a second reading because of power of suggestion. It does make a striking metaphor for that war and the endlessness of that war. I wonder if King meant for this to be the case.
 

Spideyman

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Jul 10, 2006
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Just north of Duma Key
I was going to ask that same question about the Vietnam War. I saw some book reviews where this was brought up but I didn't get that vibe the first time I read it. I insinuated this into a second reading because of power of suggestion. It does make a striking metaphor for that war and the endlessness of that war. I wonder if King meant for this to be the case.
I think, because I read it during that period/ era. and having lost so many classmates, it became the thought pattern.
 

Doc Creed

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Another perspective making the rounds on YouTube book reviews of The Long Walk is the homoerotic tension between Garraty and Peter McVries, who Ray idolizes from the very beginning. He even confuses his girlfriend's face with McVries' face in a sexual daydream he has. I don't think Ray is gay, but I do think he coveted McVries in a physical way because of his good looks and athletic physique; not sexually, per se, but in a way a young man might see someone he wants to be himself. Does that make sense? Kind of an osmosis thing. What say you?
 

do1you9love?

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Feb 18, 2012
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As Bev Vincent pointed out, this was SK first written work.
So many elements within. The descriptions were extremely vivid.

I do have a thought/ question--- those readers of my era.
Does anyone feel this was a metaphor for the Vietnam War? Written during that period/ the draft being televised/ seeing friends die.
And the ending-- describes what it is like to be the survivor while others died around you? Just some thoughts.......

Great question, Ms. Spidey. I am a bit young to remember but it's a very plausible idea.

I read this as a teen myself. I walked along every painful step as I was reading. As GNTLGNT said, it is simply brilliant for a young writer!
 

do1you9love?

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Feb 18, 2012
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Another perspective making the rounds on YouTube book reviews of The Long Walk is the homoerotic tension between Garraty and Peter McVries, who Ray idolizes from the very beginning. He even confuses his girlfriend's face with McVries' face in a sexual daydream he has. I don't think Ray is gay, but I do think he coveted McVries in a physical way because of his good looks and athletic physique; not sexually, per se, but in a way a young man might see someone he wants to be himself. Does that make sense? Kind of an osmosis thing. What say you?
There is definitely the tension there. Homoerotic? I haven't read recently, but I read it more as a wanting to be like than a desire to be with.
 

Doc Creed

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Nov 18, 2015
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There is definitely the tension there. Homoerotic? I haven't read recently, but I read it more as a wanting to be like than a desire to be with.
The only homoerotic part I'm noting is the sexual daydream he has where he confuses his girlfriend with McVries. Other than that, I think he just idolized the guy. Classic story of big brother, captain of the team, whatever...just hoping the other guy's glory will shine on you. That's mostly what I mean. As I said, I don't think Ray was gay.
 

roadhawg

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Jul 7, 2019
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....great, great story and what a showcase of a young writers raw materials.......despite the somewhat nebulous ending, this tale grabs one's eyes and guts and never lets up.....it may be about a "walk", but the pacing is like a roadrunner on meth.....I physically hurt after I read this the first time.....

Why do you feel it had a nebulous ending?
 

Spideyman

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Jul 10, 2006
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This is my favorite 'Bachman' book. A very hard look at what our future could be if left unchecked. By the way- who is the character 'Mulligan'?
This is my favorite 'Bachman' book. A very hard look at what our future could be if left unchecked. By the way- who is the character 'Mulligan'?
Chapters 14 and 15 Summary
They reach Augusta and the crowds eclipse everything they've encountered before. Here, there's confetti so deep walking is more difficult. Streamers rain down on them and there's a constant scream so loud that the walkers scream back, despite the fact that it's costing them valuable breath and that they can't be heard above the crowd. Then a walker named Milligan falls, scraping his nose on the pavement and is shot, ending the walkers' reactions.