Book Review: Dark Tower, Book 1

I confess to not having read any of Stephen King’s books beside his memoir, which I found startling and insightful. The writing advice, like most, can be skipped, but the parts about his alcoholism were a horrific image at his process of writing.

First question: what was King on when he wrote Dark Tower? I picture him writing it right after seeing Clint Eastwood’s movies at a drive in. When he envisioned his mutants in the caves, what exactly was he thinking of?


It is clear that King is a great writer. But I feel that his writing in this book is a little too vague and mystical. One specific gripe I had about it was his flashes to the Wanderer’s past, when he was a child in training. Throughout the book, the Wanderer has no name yet in the past he does. Figuring out who he was in the past was jarring and confusing to me. This seems like a minor detail, I know, but it seems to be symptomatic of the lack of direction the rest of the novel has. What are the main points of this first book in the series? How much should we get to know a protagonist to set up the rest of the books?

In my humble opinion, there was too much left out from the Wanderer’s past. A man just chasing another dude in black. I suppose it’s as good a plot as any… yet you can admit to its deficiencies. Admittedly, I have not read the rest of the books. A  question for the few souls that read this blog- how much detail should a  writer provide if he plans a series? Should the chase for the dude in black be so open ended?


One thought on “Book Review: Dark Tower, Book 1

  1. I just caught up on your blog, and ooh, you totally do get right at the problem with King . . . It’s like he wants to write a story from within the head of an inscrutable antagonist like Iago or Mr Tulkinghorn or Faustus–a figure of inexplicable and excessive evil. A bad guy for no reason. And so the landscape of the novel, as an expression of this baseless psychosis, is purely an aesthetic agglomeration of contiguous sadisms or at least neuroses. A pathetic fallacy that makes no sense as the only foundation for its allegorical function of connecting inner with outer. And so in a way, the Dark Tower is a gnostic allure akin to the monolith from 2001 that you and I have talked about. It is neither pure emotion nor pure referentiality–it is the obscurity of unknowing itself, pure process, or process negated. Phenomenologically, you might even say it is like the dialectical process frozen and placed in cryogenic suspension. For what future? Child Roland is thus a monster who neither believes nor disbelieves, but only co-opts aspects of his world to express the immanence of his cynicism alone. The extreme end of Romanticism! Bodies here are violated, dismembered, and sutured into monsters of nothing and nowhere. This a story like this is the perfect imaginative trap, an absolute nihilism that uses empathy to undo empathy. Horror as a genre in this sense expresses something common in most humans, the mystery of the possibility of experiencing a traumatic addiction to causing others pain (like you blogged or Facebooked about this, too, yes?). I guess I like the novel, still, but after reflecting on your post, I also see how the novel also makes me queasy, like a bird hit by a car, fluttering on the pavement, trying to remember which way is up and which way is down.

    Write more! ~J


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