THE BACHMAN BOOKS  by Stephen King


Four Early Novels By Richard Bachman (rage / The Long Walk / Roadwork / The Running Man)
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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. 31st, 1985
ISBN: 0452277752
Page count: 708pp
Publisher: New American Library
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1985


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