The Subtle Brilliance Of REVIVAL (SPOILERS)

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Christine62

Well-Known Member
Nov 7, 2013
493
3,121
57
Oklahoma City
#1
I've finished Revival a few days ago now and LOVED the beginning but was disappointed at the end--Ants and Spiders, Mr. King? Is that the best you could do? Why don't you throw a clown in there while you're at it?

We are socialized in this culture to be destination-seekers. I am the same way. Ever since I was a little goomer in the back seat of our wood paneled station wagons riding from West Texas to Canton Ohio To Grandma's house for the summer. "Are we there yet?" "When are we going to be there?" Forget about the journey. Forget living in the moment! I was too busy looking down the road for the next Bob's Big Boy or dreaming about playing all those Barbies in the little playhouse out back.

The big spoiler about Revival is that it is not a destination book. This is a journey book. Maybe that's why he made the thing we were so excited to get to (the after-life) so anti-climatic because that boys and girls is life in a nutshell. The events in our lives we look forward to are never and I mean never as great, compelling or as life changing as we imagine they will be.

When Mr. King referred to Reverend Jacobs as the Fifth Business (the change agent in the story) I thought that was a neat little description but when he kept repeating the little moniker through out the book, I became a little annoyed. "Okay, I get it. Are we there yet?" No, Mr. King is reminding his readers how insignificant Jacobs, his secret electricity,and the after life is to real story he is trying to tell. They are props.

So what is the real point of Revival? I chewed on this for several days. I listened to parts of the book again looking for a missing piece that would tie it all together. I knew it was a journey book like From A Buick 8 but I was looking again for some grand explanation about life in general other than life is bunch of random events and sometimes you get electricity. But life is just a bunch of random events and because we are creatures who are hard-wired to create meaning--that is what we do.

I woke up this at 4 am and I was about to come on here and write something about Revival (I didn't know what) and it hit me. It is so subtle, like a Monet--if you look too close you can't see it--back up---back way up. See it? REVIVAL IS A 4TH STEP.

Those of us who have any association with a 12 Step program are nodding our heads. Step 4 is to "make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." In the beginning Jamie has a great life--his parents are great, his siblings are fun and loving and they have a home with rules and expectations and most of all they have enough love to swim in. Then here comes Jacobs--seemingly harmless but powerfully addictive--Jacobs is the metaphor for what we can't resist--drugs, alcohol,food, sex, etc. Jamie keeps on going back to Jacobs again and again until he hits a scary bottom so low (ants and spiders) that he finally says, NO! And this writing--the physical act of sitting down to write his story is his fourth step. SO FREAKING BRILLIANT!

Jamie's fourth step is oozing with accountability. You never hear Jamie once blame Jacobs for his own mis-steps. He chose to go. He chose to lie. He chose. In the end Jamie continues his moral inventory and attempts to be of service to others and be there for his brother. He doesn't really get it at this point in his "recovery" from his Jacobs addiction but he does know he doesn't want to end up with the ants and the spiders anymore.

And the REVIVAL EXPERIENCE ON THE WEBSITE? That's a just a invitation to do a little 4th stepping on our own.

The fourth step is HARD. It is the hardest thing you will ever do. Although, I am an adult child of alcoholics, I never had that problem myself. But when I ended up psychotic in the crazy house in 1997--I blamed everyone but me:I blamed God, Baha'u'llah, the Baha'is, my husband, my parents. I would even tell my kids, "It's not my fault your childhood sucked, I was crazy." When I ended up psychotic again in 2004 --that was my ANTS AND SPIDERS episode. The scariest sh*t I have ever experienced. After that I went through the motions (like Jamie does at the end) I took my pills like clockwork but I didn't take accountability. That took me YEARS. This process of constant deconstruction is so vital to my breaking the cycle of psychosis and mental illness in my life. And of course it is a journey I walk every day.

I don't think you have to have an addiction or a mental illness to take a moral inventory of your life and I think that is the point of Revival. Mr. King is inviting us yet again around the campfire so we can tell our own scary tale--but worry, he's holding our hand as always.

Thanks Mr. King, best 13th step ever!

For more about Step Four

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step4.pdf
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
84,472
334,909
57
Cambridge, Ohio
#6
Beautifully stated Christine62. And I 100% agree with you about

Those freakin' giant ants!!! WTF???

That ruined it for me.
...I know a lot of folks are losing their minds over that construct, but I have to say that I was tickled he re-visited Lovecraft land...he has a deft touch when it comes to evoking the Master...
 
Mar 8, 2012
5,428
25,643
NJ
#7
...I know a lot of folks are losing their minds over that construct, but I have to say that I was tickled he re-visited Lovecraft land...he has a deft touch when it comes to evoking the Master...
I too was psyched about the Lovecraftian twist, but I literally get chills and a weird feeling when I read details of Lovecraft's "monsters." I laughed, groaned and got mad when I read SK's version.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
84,472
334,909
57
Cambridge, Ohio
#8
I too was psyched about the Lovecraftian twist, but I literally get chills and a weird feeling when I read details of Lovecraft's "monsters." I laughed, groaned and got mad when I read SK's version.
...the madness that lurked in Lovecraft's plotting was more overt in King's-that was the only difference I "tasted"...
 

RichardX

Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2006
1,699
4,232
#9
There was a time when King couldn't get a positive book review from the critics. And that was when he was writing most of his classics in the 70's and 80's. I remember the critics claiming his books where the cheesburgers of literature. Now most of the reviews are glowing. Even for a dud like Revival. I suspect that some of this is due to the fact that the older critics have passed on and been replaced by a younger generation that grew up reading King and being huge fans. I do wonder though if King's prominence in the publishing world has influenced the reviews. Are they now afraid to say anything negative about his books? This one is the third disappointing book in a row in my opinion. Mr. Mercedes was a middling detective effort in a crowded genre of very good authors. Dr. Sleep interesting mostly in the sense that it fleshed out some of the characters from the Shining. But mostly a disappointing book. Revival is a mess on a lot of levels. The strength of most King books is in the character development and story. In this book it was hard to like or dislike any characters or care what happens to them. Not a fatal flaw but not a very appealing trait in a King book. At this point most fans - including myself - will read just about anything King writes. He has earned that distinction. At the same time, I think it is fair from time to time to point out a clunker. One problem with long term fame and noteriety is that it's easy to go soft and lose touch when everyone is telling you that you are great. It's easy to start believing it.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
84,472
334,909
57
Cambridge, Ohio
#10
There was a time when King couldn't get a positive book review from the critics. And that was when he was writing most of his classics in the 70's and 80's. I remember the critics claiming his books where the cheesburgers of literature. Now most of the reviews are glowing. Even for a dud like Revival. I suspect that some of this is due to the fact that the older critics have passed on and been replaced by a younger generation that grew up reading King and being huge fans. I do wonder though if King's prominence in the publishing world has influenced the reviews. Are they now afraid to say anything negative about his books? This one is the third disappointing book in a row in my opinion. Mr. Mercedes was a middling detective effort in a crowded genre of very good authors. Dr. Sleep interesting mostly in the sense that it fleshed out some of the characters from the Shining. But mostly a disappointing book. Revival is a mess on a lot of levels. The strength of most King books is in the character development and story. In this book it was hard to like or dislike any characters or care what happens to them. Not a fatal flaw but not a very appealing trait in a King book. At this point most fans - including myself - will read just about anything King writes. He has earned that distinction. At the same time, I think it is fair from time to time to point out a clunker. One problem with long term fame and noteriety is that it's easy to go soft and lose touch when everyone is telling you that you are great. It's easy to start believing it.
...so much for being on the King family Christmas card list...
 
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