Saturday, January 16, 2010
The Dead Zone
I confess. I freely admit my guilt. I think that Stephen King is a great novelist. Through the years, one of my guilty pleasures has been occasionally reading a Stephen King novel. I've really only read a handful of King's novels. I've read Pet Cemetary, Gerald's Game, The Long Walk, and Desperation. When I caught the chicken pocks as a mid-thirties adult and was bedridden for two weeks, I waded through all 1000 plus pages of The Stand.
I just finished The Dead Zone (1979). Even though this is a 30 year old book which was made into a popular Hollywood movie and a subsequent TV show, it's still new to me.
King makes no secret of the fact that he is not a Christian. However, I would say that King is an agnostic leaning towards belief. The Dead Zone is really a very spiritual novel. This is the story of Johnny Smith, an everyman who is thrust into an extraordinary situation. Smith is in a devastating car wreck and is in a coma for 5 years. King uses this device to review the cultural and political history of the 1970's and how much change occurred between 1970 when Johnny goes into a coma to 1975 - 76 when he wakes up. Besides the "Rip Van Winkle" effect of his fiance now being married with children and everything being changed, Johnny Smith is also able to see the future.
The curse of being able to know what will happen before it happens is explored. Smith shakes hands with a politician and has a vision where he sees that the candidate for Congress, Greg Stillson, will be elected President and start a nuclear war. If you could go back in time to 1932 or 1933 and you knew the future, would you kill Hitler? The Dead Zone is a great read which holds up well even 30 years later.