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Stephen King's harrowing CELL

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Auggie27
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Stephen King's harrowing CELL#1
Posted: 7/20/07 at 2:47pm
(NO REAL SPOILERS) I was set to read Messud's EMPERER'S CHILDREN on the plane, but anticipating delays, knew I needed something more immediate and visceral than an Upper West Side comedy of manners. So I picked up the first King book (other than ON WRITING) in 15+ years. I was instantly sucked in, even if it's sort of THE STAND Lite. Once a King fan, always a fan, even if I avoided his longwinded period (IT and TOMMYKNOCKERS; no thanks).

What's compelling in this book -- no accident, it's about robotic zombies (no spoiler, as they are converted on page 3) --is the empathetic emotional portrait of the surviving male characters. At key moments from the very start, the men have the sort of meltdowns only women are allowed in contemporary fiction. They feel impotent in the face ot catastrophe, voice deepest anxiety, weep copiously, and find themselves frozen with fear. King's always been a character-driven fella, but since his own life-death accident (harrowingly relayed in ON WRITING), if anything he's more invested in the pain of life's smallest disappointments and greatest tragedies. In particular, there are a couple of bravura sequences in a semi-abandoned boarding school that are among the finest work King has contributed to the genre.

Even if CELL is a rather bald homage to Romero's LILVING DEAD, and even if some of the major set pieces are almost boilerplate King, this book has real rewards. It portrays post 9/11 paranoia with some of the methaporic zing in the original 50s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.

If there are others out there who long ago abandoned King, grab this paperback for the beach. If you used to savor his latest flying through CELL is like reuniting with an old friend.

"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 7/20/07 at 02:47 PM
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doodlenyc
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re: Stephen King's CELL#2
Posted: 7/20/07 at 2:50pm
oooh...I was "this" close to downloading that to my PDA yesterday! I love King. Glad it was such a good read, and the story sounds great. I will def. get it.
thanks
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

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re: Stephen King's CELL#2
Posted: 7/20/07 at 2:53pm
Agree with everything you said. It's the best King novel since Bag Of Bones, imo.

Between this and The Road the "end of the world" scenario has become very popular.
....but the world goes 'round
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re: Stephen King's CELL#3
Posted: 7/20/07 at 2:59pm
I downloaded three other books, and remembered I wanted to get this one (it was tres expensive the last time I downloaded a bunch.)

I said to myself, "Waterlily? You dont need 4 books right now...just get the three in your shopping cart and be done."

(I like to call myself Waterlily sometimes.)
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

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re: Stephen King's CELL#4
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:02pm
Waterlily, you should DL this right away. It's really a great read.
....but the world goes 'round
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re: Stephen King's CELL#5
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:03pm
Thank you, Sugarpie!
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

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re: Stephen King's CELL#6
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:05pm
Agree, Taz. CELL also has some of the economy and compelling anthropologic observations of the grocery store-set novella, THE MIST -- currently being filmed by Jan DeBont (TWISTER, SPEED), yes? (Anyone know who's in that? It's being filmed in Florida.) I loved THE MIST, and reread it recently. For any kid raised on ZONE and OUTER LIMITS styled sci-fi it's required reading -- as indeed is CELL.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: Stephen King's CELL#7
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:08pm
Will I be too ascairt to use my cell phone?
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

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re: Stephen King's CELL#8
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:10pm
So glad you all like this one! It's really King gettiung back to his scare-the-bejeezus-outa-ya roots.

Lisey's Story and Blaze (his new "Richard Bachman" novel) are not scary like that, but they're worth reading if you're a fan.
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re: Stephen King's CELL#9
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:10pm
True Auggie. It wasn't as bloated as some of his novels tend to get. And I really liked the conclusion. I love King, but I find that he tends to be a little anti-climactic. This one had a very satisfying ending.
....but the world goes 'round
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re: Stephen King's CELL#10
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:57pm
I was avoiding this book because the premise sounded kind of lame, but if you say it's good maybe I'll pick it up.
yr ronin,
joey
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re: Stephen King's CELL#11
Posted: 7/20/07 at 3:59pm
I saw Blaze for the first time just last week PJ, is it any good?
....but the world goes 'round
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re: Stephen King's CELL#12
Posted: 7/20/07 at 4:09pm
I avoided it because it sounded precious, too high concept, turning cell phones into monsters. But cell phones don't figure that prominently actually. I think we're all tired of cars that are possessed or vacuum cleaners chasing people around. This takes another serious look at human nature, the layers of the psyche, group behavior, society organization, and though it's like THE STAND in terms of apocolyptic tragedy, it doesn't have the sort of good vs. evil issue, which almost wore out its welcome.

It deals with moral issues in a more complex way. But maybe I'm making it sound high-falutin -- at its core, it's just a really well-told, well fleshed out (!) zombie story.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: Stephen King's CELL#13
Posted: 7/20/07 at 4:57pm
Blaze is very different--sort of his take on Of Mice and Men. It was an early manuscript he was going to publish as Bachman but never got around to. He wanted to help the Haven Foundation, which helps disabled artists, so he rewrote Blaze and donated his proceeds to it.
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re: Stephen King's CELL#14
Posted: 7/20/07 at 9:37pm
PJ and others: Did you read ON WRITING? It's an illuminating look at the King process, provocative and revealing, and for those of us always in CARRIE's thrall, it details how the title character was conceived. The portions on CARRIE alone make it required reading. But hey, I'm a long time, true believer in the King oeuvre, having read SALEMS LOT twice, despite my bellyaching about the doorstop texts in the 80s like IT.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: Stephen King's CELL#15
Posted: 7/20/07 at 11:57pm
On Writing also has the first manuscript pages of the short story that the movie 1408 was based on. You can read the pages in On Writing, then the story in Everything's Eventual and then see the movie.
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re: Stephen King's CELL#16
Posted: 7/21/07 at 1:31am
The Mist is being filmed by Frank Darabont who did Shawshank and The Green Mile. Unfortunately Cell is being filmed by Eli Roth.
I loved Cell. The opening pages where everything goes to hell where breathtaking. And I really liked the way he wrote the gay character.
And Auggie...you haven't read It?? That's my favorite King book ever.
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re: Stephen King's CELL#17
Posted: 7/21/07 at 11:24am
I read it in two days.....it's excellent
It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story... AGATHA CHRISTIE, Life magazine, May 14, 1956
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re: Stephen King's CELL#18
Posted: 7/21/07 at 1:10pm
Which book did I not read? Not CELL -- I started this thread.

Uh-oh, Eli Roth will turn CELL into a gore-fest, a clear possibility since the zombie element could be the focus. And the final quarter poses problems for a rabid audience wanting definitive closure (MILD SPOILER). King delivers the obligatory scene -- a confrontation we feel coming for a hundred pages -- but finds a moving coda that takes us to a deeper place. Picking up on themes in PET SEMETARY to be sure, he gets us, and then pulls a final gasp. Watch that get dumped.

Again, per first post: the portrayal of the male characters lifts this book beyond the sometimes restrictive limitations of the genre. I fear an Eli Roth spin will reconfigure the emotional center and turn it into a story of cornball macho heroics. These guys are more complex -- yet not at the expense of traditional storytelling.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
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re: Stephen King's CELL#19
Posted: 7/21/07 at 1:10pm
I just looked up interviews with Roth (3/27/07) about his plans for the CELL film. There's even more reason to dread his heavy hand. He said he's really only interested in the premise -- "the first 40 pages" -- because afterward, the "tension" (non-stop murder) ebbed. So there it is. We'll get all the throat ripping and dismembering but none of the story build and examination of human nature beyond the most carnal. He went to King and asked for his permission to "change some things." King blessed the project, supposedly, but I'm sure he expected the question, and the resulting dumbing down the movie will receive.

On the other hand, the film of THE MIST looks damned good. Marcia Gay Harden and Francis Sternhagen, no less, are in the cast. The lead is Thomas Jane. It opens 11/21, and I'll be there for that one.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 7/21/07 at 01:10 PM