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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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