For the past few months I’ve been traveling through more intertwining worlds than I can name thanks to the genius and imagination of author Stephen King and his Dark Tower series. I’m not a rapid reader, and these books aren’t particularly easy reads, so perhaps it took me a little longer to travel the road of the Gunslinger than it would another reader. Now that I’ve completed the journey, I’m bereft. How will I go on without Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake, and Oy? Especially Oy, the billy bumbler.
My son is to blame for insisting I read the series. As a long time Stephen King devotee, I had grimly resisted reading the Dark Tower books. I’m not sure why. I started book one years ago, and I only made it through a few chapters before putting it aside. It didn’t feel like a Stephen King book. I believe at that time I wanted another Carrie, Salem’s Lot, or Christine, and this didn’t fit the bill.
More recently I’d seen the film and wasn’t impressed, but I must tell you the film bears only scant resemblance to the enormous scope of the books. The film was akin to a dry saltine cracker, while the books are a magnificent feast.
In this past year our son, Jason, persisted in cajoling me into reading the series. He fed me little tidbits that he knew I couldn’t resist, such as “Stephen King writes himself into the books,” and “He includes characters from other novels he’s written,” and finally I succumbed. Thank goodness.
Most of my books nowadays are read on Kindle, and books 1-6 were readily available in e-reader format. When I completed book six in the middle of the night, though, and immediately went to the Kindle store to download book VII, it wasn’t available. I had a panic attack. Roland and his intrepid ka tet were in dire circumstances.
I made myself wait until morning to check again on its availability, but I tossed and turned all night. The book still wasn’t available. I called my son.
“Help! I can’t get book VII on my kindle.”
“It’s there,” he said. “I read it on mine.”
“Then why can’t I?” I whined.
He laughed evilly. Kids these days.
I even tweeted Stephen King. “WTF, man! Why can’t I download Dark Tower Book VII on my kindle?”
No response. Argh.
For a week I checked almost constantly on Amazon and finally gave up, broke down, and ordered the physical book. It was HUGE. Seldom do I think about the size of an electronic version book. The space one takes up in my hands never changes. A 35,000 word book feels exactly the same as a 200,000 word book. But this book. Whoa! I felt as though I might as well have begun reading Webster’s unabridged dictionary.
It’s also a first trade edition. Briefly I wondered if it might be worth something more than I paid for it, but knowledgeable friends assured me it was not.
Gamely I plowed through. Ah, the sacrifices I made for these characters: Cramping wrists, having to use a lamp to read by in bed, not being able to tuck the tome into my handbag. Agonizing. But rewarding.
When I finally reached the end I began to cry and couldn’t stop for many minutes, not necessarily because the series has a sad ending–it really doesn’t, but because it was over. No more Roland of Gilead. No more Susannah, or Eddie, or Jake. Mostly though, no more Oy, the billy bumbler. Oh good and faithful Oy. Dammit. I’m crying again.
P.S. Guess what book is now available on kindle? You guessed it, book 7. Maybe the universe was trying to teach me a lesson in patience.