Friday, June 01, 2018

Stephen King's The Outsider

Stephen King must be closing in on 75 or so published titles, so I hope it doesn't seem like I'm damning with faint praise when I say there's nothing wrong with his latest, The Outsider, but it feels like he's retreading some old ground. Specifically, the first quarter or so of the novel feels very much  like The Dark Half (1989), in which an innocent man is accused of a murder, with tremendous evidence to prove it, but he also has an alibi so impossibly airtight it's clear the supernatural must be involved. To be fair, there's a twist in the tale, but even though King's prose feels somehow sharper and tighter than it has been in a while, the story itself isn't terribly compelling. Maybe Elevation, coming later this year, will be stronger. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

Last year, I read a bunch of John le Carré. He revisits many themes over and over again in his books, especially betrayal. You also see many characters repeated, but with different names, vocal tics, and hair colours.

I read in an interview how with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy he was completely buffaloed as to how to begin the novel. He'd got around a third of the way in before he came to realize that he needed a different tack (originally, the story had been told in a more linear fashion. The published version manages to avoid connecting more than two points for its entire million-dot run.)

In short, le Carré is an iterative writer. He doesn't seem to mind revisiting his older material and tweaking it to make it into something more refined. Or less refined. I don't know Steven King from The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, but I imagine that if I hit my 75th novel, I'd be iterative as well.