Sunday, January 18, 2015

Double Feature by Owen King

A tale of two assholes.

The father is a lovable asshole and the son is an unlikable asshole. This story is about their respective journeys toward not being such huge assholes.

This is a big messy book. The author throws everything he's got at this one. And most of it sticks.

Owen King is a hell of a writer. His dad (Stephen King) and his brother (Joe Hill) are great entertainers, tellers of tales designed for stadium seating, whereas Owen King is more of a writer's writer. The stuff Owen accomplishes (or tries to accomplish) in this book is impressive, page after page of death-defying feats of writerly derring-do. As a writer, you can't help but to read this and think "Huh, I wouldn't have tried that", "I can't believe he pulled that off!", "How'd he do that?", "Good one" and "Oh, wow!"

This book has touching scenes, hilarious scenes, bigger than life characters, real people, and wild, imaginative visions.

It also has a fucking Seinfeld routine grafted onto a sequence in an art house film the main character is filming. This happens early on and I nearly put down the book after reading it. The cheapness, the obviousness of this gag nettled me. It was beneath the author to use it, and even beneath the pathetic writer/director character in the book who penned it in this fictional world.

There are a number of minor low points in this book, but this 'Seinfeld' thing is the worst. But, because Owen tosses in everything, there will be scenes and lines and characters that detract. It's almost to be expected with a book like this. But believe me when I say the good far outweighs the bad in this book. And there are elements, many elements, that are truly great.

Booth, for instance. If there is one reason to read this book, it is to experience this ingenious character portrait.

I loved Booth.

The story engine used here is the farce and this novel has many of the goofy trappings of the farce. But I'm not sure that it needed any of that. Some of it worked, some was eye roll-inducing. So, if you're one who can't handle improbable situations, coincidences, broad physical humor, juvenile sight gags, and dick jokes, you might want to steer clear.

Oh, also, if you think this is a horror novel because Stephen King's son wrote it, don't even bother picking it up.

This is not a horror novel.
This is not a horror novel.
This is not a horror novel.

But Owen does throw in an absolutely grand tribute to one of his dad's favorite books, The Great God Pan. So, even though this one's not horror, I just know Owen's pop was smiling from ear to ear while reading this thing. Man, it's that good.

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