Rereading Tommyknockers

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Rockym

Well-Known Member
Feb 11, 2012
70
211
#21
I know it wasn't his most well received story but I enjoyed the story as well. I just finished re-reading it and still loved it. Yes, it starts out a little slow, but it really gets going for me when Gard arrives at Bobbi's house. I think maybe I prefer stories that have a lot of characters, and are centered more around a town or a group. Like Salem's Lot and Needful Things for example.
 

Christiane17

Well-Known Member
Jan 19, 2010
832
824
70
Quebec, Canada
#22
I'm currently reading The Tommyknockers, as I bought it from a huge used books sale a few weeks ago. I paid only a couple of dollars for it almost brand new, hard cover french translation. I must say it'not my favorite SK novel so far, but I'm only in the first 100 pages. I'm not sure I'll keep on reading during december. I reserve this month for rereading Christmas Stories, Christmas Carol being my fave ( rereading it every year before holidays ). Tommyknockers is not a bad book in my opinion, but for me it's not a page turner like other SK books were for me. But I will read until the end...in a short term.
 

lowman

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2015
438
2,139
44
#23
I
I definitely think a pattern's been established that King's straight sci-fi, 1950s-movie-style alien invasion stories, a la THE TOMMYKNOCKERS and DREAMCATCHER, are not his strengths. That said, I still say (and if I had a dollar for every for every time I've said it, I'd be in Stephen King's tax bracket) King's lesser works are still superior in many ways to most authors' best.
I Enjoyed dreamcatcher it was different change of pace for king i have i admit i liked it.
 

Philzilla

Well-Known Member
Mar 1, 2009
174
598
#25
I was on a lot of booze and illicit narcotics when I read it the first time years ago (when it came out) and I loved it!
That's how SK wrote it as well,
huh...small world.

I like Tommyknockers up to a point, but as already mentioned, it does spin out of control eventually. But it's SK. I like his stuff, even when it is bad, I just don't like it as much.
 

Doc Creed

Well-Known Member
Nov 18, 2015
14,763
65,317
United States
#26
I read The Tommyknockers again for the third time last month. Along with King, I concede that many parts could've been excised or whittled down, but I can't say that it's a terrible book. Everytime I find something new catches my attention and it is quite entertaining. My focus was always with Bobby and Gard and admittedly the pace slumps in a few spots in the middle which can be irritating on the initial read. As with Needful Things, King employs humor and a penchant for wild, unexpected plot turns. I'll only say that one such scene involves a Coke machine. Yeah, that's right. I think the book has many subtle (and not so subtle) moments of terror. My favorite is the point where Gard finally goes into the shed. The green light and the sloshing washing machine sounds. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. Last thing, besides Pet Sematary this novel really brings to life the real Maine. The old, primeval North Country and not just the idyllic post card Maine.
 

Pucker

We all have it coming, kid
May 9, 2010
2,906
6,208
56
#27
Last thing, besides Pet Sematary this novel really brings to life the real Maine. The old, primeval North Country and not just the idyllic post card Maine.
I think there's a wonderful symmetry in the best of the Maine stories. Off-beat things happening off the beaten path, so to speak. The little pockets of eccentricity that Mr. King is so good at revealing amuse us, because technology is trying to teach us that the world is small, when we know that it isn't. We need places like Haven (and Castle Rock ... and Derry ... and ... ) because if the kinds of things Mr. King wants to show us were to happen in the "postcard" Maine of which Doc speaks, the Dallas Police would arrive far too soon for anything really fun (or funny) to happen.
 
Jan 5, 2016
25
111
36
#29
This book is full of great sections (Gard and his back story, for example) that don't seem to form a story that is as cohesive as it could have been/was intended. Don't get me wrong - I still think it is a good, worthwhile read (like nearly all of SKs work), but I do agree that it is too long and for me the main plot is not driven hard enough throughout all the different sections. He manages to do this incredibly well in most of his bigger books including IT and and The Stand (which are, in my mind, absolute masterpieces), but I found myself trailing off in places with this one.
 

sam peebles

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2008
2,080
508
Massachusetts
#30
I really like this book. It might not make my top ten (there're so many!), but definitely my top twenty. I like the science fiction element, and I like his small-town architecture. I think the concept is interesting, if not all-together original (see BBC serial Quatermass and the Pit).

Small-town building is one of King's greatest strengths, and it's on show front-and-center in this book. Yes, he's done it better, with Salem's Lot and It and others, but it's still executed well here, absorbing me into the rural minutia and the day-to-day lives of minor characters.

I love reveling in that voyeuristic opportunity he offers of the town, much like the milkman chapter of Salem's, and the pink-grapefruit scenes with Aunt Cordelia of Wizard in Glass, not to mention many more. (I believe Salem's Lot's town dynamic is what inspired Peter Straub to craft his masterpiece Ghost Story.)

King loves to build up these living, breathing microcosms of Middle America (Derry, Haven, Castle Rock, etc.), just to tear them down. And I think that's one of the best parts of books of this nature: witnessing the horrific and utter destruction of these towns by a true master.

By his own admission, King calls The Tommyknockers "an awful book".

I love it, for whatever that's worth.

On a side note: Anybody here on the board familiar with the poem growing up? King says Tabby also knew it, or a version of it, so he didn't make it up. I'm from a multi-generational New England family and none of my family had ever heard of the Tommyknockers before King published the book. Personally, I was three when it was released, so I have no reference to it but King.
 

kingricefan

All-being, keeper of Space, Time & Dimension.
Jul 11, 2006
28,311
115,234
Spokane, WA
#31
I really like this book. It might not make my top ten (there're so many!), but definitely my top twenty. I like the science fiction element, and I like his small-town architecture. I think the concept is interesting, if not all-together original (see BBC serial Quatermass and the Pit).

Small-town building is one of King's greatest strengths, and it's on show front-and-center in this book. Yes, he's done it better, with Salem's Lot and It and others, but it's still executed well here, absorbing me into the rural minutia and the day-to-day lives of minor characters.

I love reveling in that voyeuristic opportunity he offers of the town, much like the milkman chapter of Salem's, and the pink-grapefruit scenes with Aunt Cordelia of Wizard in Glass, not to mention many more. (I believe Salem's Lot's town dynamic is what inspired Peter Straub to craft his masterpiece Ghost Story.)

King loves to build up these living, breathing microcosms of Middle America (Derry, Haven, Castle Rock, etc.), just to tear them down. And I think that's one of the best parts of books of this nature: witnessing the horrific and utter destruction of these towns by a true master.

By his own admission, King calls The Tommyknockers "an awful book".

I love it, for whatever that's worth.

On a side note: Anybody here on the board familiar with the poem growing up? King says Tabby also knew it, or a version of it, so he didn't make it up. I'm from a multi-generational New England family and none of my family had ever heard of the Tommyknockers before King published the book. Personally, I was three when it was released, so I have no reference to it but King.
All of the kids from the small town in western Pennsylvania that I lived in until I was 11 (which would make it 1971) knew the Tommyknockers song. We used to scare each other with it all of the time.
 

recitador

Speed Reader
Sep 3, 2016
1,704
7,937
35
#33
I really like this book. It might not make my top ten (there're so many!), but definitely my top twenty. I like the science fiction element, and I like his small-town architecture. I think the concept is interesting, if not all-together original (see BBC serial Quatermass and the Pit).

Small-town building is one of King's greatest strengths, and it's on show front-and-center in this book. Yes, he's done it better, with Salem's Lot and It and others, but it's still executed well here, absorbing me into the rural minutia and the day-to-day lives of minor characters.

I love reveling in that voyeuristic opportunity he offers of the town, much like the milkman chapter of Salem's, and the pink-grapefruit scenes with Aunt Cordelia of Wizard in Glass, not to mention many more. (I believe Salem's Lot's town dynamic is what inspired Peter Straub to craft his masterpiece Ghost Story.)

King loves to build up these living, breathing microcosms of Middle America (Derry, Haven, Castle Rock, etc.), just to tear them down. And I think that's one of the best parts of books of this nature: witnessing the horrific and utter destruction of these towns by a true master.

By his own admission, King calls The Tommyknockers "an awful book".

I love it, for whatever that's worth.

On a side note: Anybody here on the board familiar with the poem growing up? King says Tabby also knew it, or a version of it, so he didn't make it up. I'm from a multi-generational New England family and none of my family had ever heard of the Tommyknockers before King published the book. Personally, I was three when it was released, so I have no reference to it but King.
this describes my thoughts pretty well. i've got a few koontz books that work the same way. something about a whole town becoming isolated, or going through a situation and just going full disaster makes a good story for me (maybe i'm a closet sadist lol). phantoms by koontz is a book i really enjoy as well. i definitely disagree with king's assessment of his own writing haha. most of my favorites of his are full on destruction of small towns, plus the stand, which was the same, writ worldwide
 
Jun 27, 2011
16
63
#34
After (or possibly while) I read The Fireman, I am going to give this one a reread. I've only read The Tommyknockers once, back when I was a teenager (won't tell you how long ago that was) and devouring everything he had published, and it was one of my least favorite. But after reading his thoughts on the quality of the novel, and keeping in mind that it was his last book before he got sober (as well as it being, like Misery, one giant metaphor for cocaine), I thought I would revisit the book, see if I agree with his assessment that there is a good story, a good shorter novel buried in the bad, or if, like others, my own assessment has changed.

Should be interesting.
 

Dana Jean

Reformed Dirty Pirate Hooker
Moderator
Apr 11, 2006
44,968
183,266
Thornfield
#35
After (or possibly while) I read The Fireman, I am going to give this one a reread. I've only read The Tommyknockers once, back when I was a teenager (won't tell you how long ago that was) and devouring everything he had published, and it was one of my least favorite. But after reading his thoughts on the quality of the novel, and keeping in mind that it was his last book before he got sober (as well as it being, like Misery, one giant metaphor for cocaine), I thought I would revisit the book, see if I agree with his assessment that there is a good story, a good shorter novel buried in the bad, or if, like others, my own assessment has changed.

Should be interesting.
This is what happened to me. Years ago when it came out and I tried to read it, I absolutely hated it and put it down before finishing.

Now, many years later, I picked it up and read it through. And you know what, it really is a pretty good little story that should have been tightened up by his editors. There is a good story in there.
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
8,632
56,691
53
sweden
#36
This is what happened to me. Years ago when it came out and I tried to read it, I absolutely hated it and put it down before finishing.

Now, many years later, I picked it up and read it through. And you know what, it really is a pretty good little story that should have been tightened up by his editors. There is a good story in there.
Agree, there is a good story buried in there. It has great scenes but they drown in the length of the book.
 

greg kai

New Member
Sep 23, 2016
2
7
39
#39
I liked it a lot, it's among my King's favorites. The 1950 sci-fy feel, the way that the villains are basically a bunch of honest guys/girls turned intuitive superscientists, who got currupted in the process. Not simply turning evil because they morph into evil aliens, but turned evils just because they got so much new capabilities/powers available. The head villain (bobby) was among the most likeable characters at first, and remains believable during her evolution, found it very interesting cause you don't see often the birth of a mad scientist. Only the end result is usually described in fiction...There are common points with Dreamcatcher, mostly the old school scify B movie feel, but I far far prefer tommyknockers. Villains are just generic bad things without much evolution in Dreamcatchers, while in tommyknockers I feel how i could easily turn bad this way. Ability to build more and more complex/powerfull crazy gadgets intuitively with progressively hotter and hotter temper....Yes I can see how it would end for most people, me included :-D.
Kings always mention it as one og his bad book, but it would not be the first time I do not share the opinion of an author about his own work. David Lynch Dune is another example....I think some authors sometimes go with the critique mainstream opinion, especially when most of their work is highly regarded...
Maybe that's one of the reason why I liked Revival too, the Rev evolution was nice and I do not really have antipathy for him, not at all...Not a villain, more like a tragic hero....Bobby too...or it's just me who have strong mad scientist tendencies :-D
 
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