What I Read This Month — July 2016
“Blockade Billy” by Stephen King
This is a short story that was packaged in a very thin little book along with “Morality” which is why I did not italicize it. I read this story in one sitting. I didn’t do this because it was good and I couldn’t put it down, but because it was so short that I didn’t want to just leave it unfinished. Plus I wanted to start reading the second story in the book. I was pretty disappointed with the story. Reviews on Goodreads point to the idea that I would only really like it if I better understood baseball. And maybe that’s true. Maybe I lacked the background knowledge to understand all of the little details that were meant to build suspense.
It just wasn’t very suspenseful, and the “twist” was, well, lacking in my opinion. It felt hollow. The ending was definitely something in line with Stephen King, but it read more like someone mimicking King’s style than something King would actually write. The story was okay. I wouldn’t reread it.
“Morality” by Stephen King
Another just kind of uninteresting story. I also read this in one sitting (actually the same sitting as the previous). This would have been better as a longer story. It lacked in characterization, and by the time King was showing the change in the morality of the characters, I didn’t have anything to compare them to. Did the wife and husband always act like this? There were maybe 5 pages of them “before” and now all this is happening.
The story revolves around the idea of morality and what keeps people in line, but it seemed to be tied up with another notion of how doing one bad thing makes you a bad person in other, unrelated arenas. I don’t know. Outside of Carrie, Stephen King doesn’t really write good female characters — and he certainly doesn’t write good, morally gray female characters. That is just my opinion and I’m sorry if you disagree. He doesn’t. He’s decent at writing about a doting wife or loving mother, but once that woman has a twisted thought, her characterization goes out the window. But that’s not what I read his work for — I read it to feel uncomfortable, scared, creeped out, or horrified. And I just didn’t feel much with this one. (Side note: if you are interested in morally gray women in literature, I beg you to read Gillian Flynn’s works)
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
This I really enjoyed. I hadn’t read anything by Gladwell before, but I’m definitely going to have to seek out his other works after reading Outliers. I have recently gotten into the Freakonomics podcast, and this fit right in with my newfound interest in economical views of social issues.
Each point was introduced as a vignette and I think he did a pretty good job at helping the reader arrive at the same conclusion as the data. There were instances in the book where I felt that since we as the reader already knew what he was getting at, he shouldn’t have taken so long to reach that end. But I could forgive him that because the rest of it was very interesting. The interviews he did and the breadth of individuals and individual scenarios he brought up made it so I was interested in each one, even if I didn’t totally understand the field.
I have definitely started learning more and trying to expand my breadth of knowledge, as well as thinking about how I have personally benefited from things entirely out of my control. It was an interesting take on privilege without actually saying privilege. I will definitely be passing it on to others.
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Wow this book was an emotional roller coaster. I cried several times during the whirlwind few days it took me to finish the book. The subject matter was very sad — children locked away in an attic, waiting to inherit fortunes when their unforgiving grandfather passes away — but it was still interesting and made me want to finish it. I also now want to buy the other books in the series. V.C. Andrews really knows how to rip out your heart, and then when you think it’s bad, you see the depths to which people will dive.
It talked about love in different forms — unconditional, unquestioning, familial, sensual, fanatical — as well as the impact of money upon a person. A question that is brought up again and again in the novel is whether money makes the world spin, or love. And I believe that the novel ultimately tells us that it depends on the person.
Where I complain about a lack of believable, morally gray women in King’s works, there is no shortage here. The basis of morality is questioned and challenged — religious people are not inherently moral, but the ones who reject the religious fanaticism are not inherently moral either. And you can do something or somethings that seem wrong, but not be a bad person.
I have no intention of watching the Lifetime movie version, because I can just tell from the trailer that they are not going to focus on the important facets of the novel — and I don’t think Heather Graham is a passable Corrine Foxworth. But I will definitely pursue the other novels in the series.