Under the dome
I've spent the last week and a half reading Stephen King's latest heavyweight novel and I'm a stronger man for it. Under the Dome weighs in at 1072 pages and, literally, weighs at least five pounds. First I lifted five pounds of sugar, or whatever it is in kilos. Then I lifted Steve's book. The book is heavier.
In 1978 I read the 1000-plus pages of King's magnum opus The Stand. I was a younger man and had the strength to hold the book hoisted up in reading position. Under the Dome nearly crushed me. My flabby ol' sexagenarian arms trembled. My arthritic fingers fumbled. The book crashed to my lap and - fortunately I'm not still a younger man - handy about ruined me.
Shame to say - sad to say? - Under the Dome is the first novel I've ever read with its back propped against a pillow on my knees. But I persevered and did some lifting exercises each time I turned a page. By the time I finished reading I could hold the book shoulders-high for two whole minutes.
I told you I was a stronger man for having read Under the Dome.
The plot line of this novel is plain and simple. Suddenly one day in October, a humongous, transparent dome seals off the town of Chester's Mill, Maine from the surrounding area like an ant farm inside a bell jar.
Then what happens?
Then, in his inimitable - p'raps not totally originally - fashion, King explores the behavior of the folks trapped in this isolated setting.
King himself makes reference to William Golding's Lord of the Flies, a novel in which a planeload of British school boys crashes onto an island in the middle of nowhere, but fortunately somewhere tropical. In that isolated setting the boys revert to their inherent primitiveness and pummel each other…kinda.
Something similar happens in Under the Dome - only different. This is a Stephen King novel after all.
Remember Jefferson Davis Hogg?
Big Jim Rennie, the uber villain in Under the Dome is a Boss Hogg type character with a nasty Stephen King twist. Big Jim, for instance, is capable of using a gold-plated, ornamental baseball as a murder weapon.
Remember Napoleon the boss pig in George Orwell's Animal Farm? [Am I sounding like a manic ol' school teacher with all these questions?]
Big Jim Rennie is an unsavoury mixture of Boss Hogg and Orwell's Napoleon - Hogg? Napoleon the Pig? - and also a used car salesman.
Frightsome mixture, eh b'ys?
Imitating Boss Hogg Dr. Jekling into Napoleon the pig, Big Jim Rennie commences, in the name of God - to toss in another twist - to establish a police state in Chester's Mill.
The hero, the good-guy extraordinaire in Under the Dome is an ex-military man named - wait for it - Barbie. Barbie already has had the bejabbers beaten out of him when he first appears in the story. Actually, when he first appears he is trying to leave Chester's Mill.
As you can imagine, many things - a thousand pages full of things - happen in this book. There's murder and mayhem a'plenty and a couple of jim-dandy explosions powerful enough to maybe blow the roof…no, blow the dome off.
Guess what isn't in this novel? There are no monsters, no corpses, human or critters, rising from their graves and prowling the confines - yes, confines - of Chester's Mill.
Those of you who suppose Stephen King - the King of Horror - writes only about supernatural monsters and horrendous creatures of that ilk won't find them under the dome in Chester's Mill. The horrors in Under the Dome are of the human kind.
But, hey, don't be disappointed. There are several pestiferous aliens lurking in the hills behind Chester's Mill.
I confess, I'm jealous of Stephen King. He writes so much - sure, a Stephen King short story is likely to be 200 pages - so well and prob'ly has more than a million dollars tucked under his mattress.
And worst of all, even though he's my age, he's able to lift his own books up to his chin.
Thank you for reading these paltry lightweight scribbles.
Harold Walters is a retired teacher living in Dunville.