THE BACHMAN BOOKS

FOUR EARLY NOVELS BY RICHARD BACHMAN (RAGE / THE LONG WALK / ROADWORK / THE RUNNING MAN)

Despite a Halloween pub date, these four reprints are not King as a horror novelist. His mask as Richard Bachman, writer of Signet paperback originals, allows him to try his band at straight suspense and one Orwellian suspense-fantasy. The four reprints are Rage (1966-71), begun while King was a high school senior; The Long Walk (1967-68), done while a college freshman; Roadwork (1981), and The Running Man (1982, full-length, written in 72 hours and published untouched). Plotwise Rage is the weakest, delivering little—and that grossly—on the premise of a psycho high-schooler shooting a female teacher and then holding her class hostage while he vomits up Freudian bellywash. The Long Walk is a neatly told suspenser about a future killer marathon in which 100 entrants must walk the length of Maine without stopping—anyone who drops is shot where he falls. In Roadwork a man goes berserk and begins plotting against the state when a planned roadway extension is supposed to go through his laundry and his house. With its James M. Cain attention to occupational detail during mental derailment, this is the most restrained, thoughtful, nicely observed novel in the bunch—but the least gripping. The Running Man is a grisly, high-pitched, murderous parody of game shows. In the year 2025 prole Ben Richards is chosen to star on the ratings monster "The Running Man," in which to win he must hide out from the whole nation for 30 days—while network goons or any prize-happy citizen may shoot him. No contestant has ever won this game. The purple climax, strewn and glowing with entrails, has a touch of the true King about it. King has published duller books (The Dead Zone, Night Shift) than the late Bachman—but King at his best (Salem's Lot, and in a yeasty recent script he wrote for TV) shines far brighter than Bachman.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1985

ISBN: 0452277752

Page Count: 708

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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