Hot on the heels of The Gunslinger (1988) comes the second volume of King's gargantuan alternate-universe omnibus. And not a moment too soon: readers who slogged, downcast, through the murky first installment will find here a brighter, friskier, much more involving read as Roland the Gunslinger takes his quest for the Dark Tower into our world and time. Last seen, Roland sat at the edge of a giant sea, knowing that to achieve the Dark Tower—the hub of creation—he'll need to collect three people: The Prisoner, The Lady of Shadows, and Death. How? By stepping through three doors that protrude from the endless coastline, thus walking into the minds of three citizens of 20th-century N.Y.C. Before Roland opens the first door, however, he's roamed by a "lobstrosity," a claw-snapping sea critter whose bite spins him into a near-fatal fever. So it's a weak and desperate Roland that steps into door #1 and into the heroin-addled mind of punk crook Eddie Dean—The Prisoner—about to be busted for carrying two pounds of coke through customs at Kennedy Airport. Since Roland needs to cohabit Eddie's body to find medicine for his fever, he talks the addict through customs and a subsequent confrontation with Eddie's vicious mob-boss—and then, penicillin in hand, drags the addict back into Gunslinger-world, where the two bond as Roland heals while Eddie withdraws. Up pops door #2: The Lady of Shadows turns out to be a crippled, beautiful, Jekyll-and-Hyde black woman; Eddie falls in love with Jekyll but crazed, murderous Hyde nearly kills both Eddie and Roland before the Gunslinger merges the two personalities into a third, Susannah. Behind door #3, Roland finds Death—who turns out to be a psycho killer, and then, in a typical King turn of poetic justice, Roland himself. Prime King, very suspenseful and often quite tunny during Roland's stranger-in-a-strange-land forays into Gotham, with psychologically dense characters, reams of virtuoso horror writing, and little of the sophomoric portentousness of the early volume (which King began in college; this volume was penned recently). In an afterword, King previews volumes 3 and 4: an epic in the making, and, if the quality of this one sustains, a series to be savored as it grows.

Pub Date: March 1, 1989

ISBN: 0451210859

Page Count: 320

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1989

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?