Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reading A to Z: R is for Richard Bachman

By now most people know that Richard Bachman is really Stephen King, writing under a pseudonym. I like to think of Richard Bachman as being King's darker side. I know, Stephen King is already pretty dark. But his Bachman stories are even more twisted than anything he wrote under his real name. I love them.

Everyone has been going crazy over The Hunger Games. Yes, I loved the book, but I felt like I was reading a young adult version of The Running Man and The Long Walk while I was reading it. In The Running Man, Ben Richards is desperate for money, so he agrees to go on a reality TV show (an idea basically unheard of 20 years ago when this story was written). Millions of people are glued to their sets while he runs for his life. He is required to mail in videos, which can give away his location. Rewards are offered to viewers who provide information as to his whereabouts. He has to stay on the run for 30 days in order to win. Most people only make it 8 days.

The Long Walk is the story of a group of 100 boys who embark upon a walk. They must maintain a pace of 4 miles per hour. If you slow down, you get shot in the head. If you otherwise fail, you get shot in the head. The walk continues until only one person is left standing.

Roadwork is another one of the original Bachman books. In this one, Bart Dawes slowly goes insane as his entire life is forced to change when a road construction project is planned right through his neighborhood. He has never gotten over the death of his son from a brain tumor, and this is just too much for him.

The fourth original Bachman book was The Rage, in which a boy goes crazy and kills his teacher in a school shooting. After Columbine, Stephen King pulled this book from publication and vowed to never print it again. If you're one of the lucky ones who has an old copy, you can still read it.

Thinner was another Bachman book that was creepy and delightful. Billy Haleck is an overweight lawyer who runs over a gypsy while his wife is giving him a hand job. In retribution, one of the gypsies puts a curse on him, causing him to lose weight. At first, this seems great, but the weight loss doesn't stop. The only way to make it stop ends up being more horrifying than what is happening to him.

My favorite Richard Bachman book is the first one that was published after Stephen King was outed as being the real writer. The Regulators was published as a sort of companion novel to King's Desperation. The two stories have the same characters and the same setting, but in a parallel universe. Good guys in one are the bad guys in the other. It's necessary to read them back to back for maximum enjoyment.

Blaze was the last one published under the Bachman name. It is actually an unpublished King novel from his early days that he polished and edited. I have not yet read it, though it is on my shelf. There are rumors of more Bachman books to come at some point in the future.

1 comment:

  1. I was a huge fan of Stephen King in high school, but really lost all respect for him. It's no longer about the enjoyment of the written word, but the money, and that's just sad.


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