Last weekend, I was convinced I saw a person walking in my driveway. They weren’t lingering, they just happened to be caught by the lone light that offers the only illumination onto the black concrete, right near where my car is parked. Then I thought I heard noises near the side of the house where the garbage cans are located. It was pretty late…3:28 A.M. to be exact. It was a Saturday morning, so perhaps it was some local kids messing around, or sadly, a transient who has no home to go to. I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad if just prior to the strange sighting and noises I hadn’t been engrossed in Stephen King’s lengthy novel, Under the Dome. I can always rely on the Master of the Macabre to induce a few extended chills in me that go beyond the printed page.
If you’re a fellow fan of Mr. King’s you were neither surprised, nor put off, by the fact that his most recent work contains over a thousand pages of prose. King is no stranger to turning out lengthy narratives, The Stand, Insomnia, and IT, to name a few. The fortunate aspect of that for his Constant Reader, as he likes to refer to his rabid legion of fans, is that the work doesn’t just stop at quantity, the novels are laced full of literary quality. Both fans and non-fans alike make the assumption that King is a virtual writing machine who bangs out copious amounts of material that, metaphorically, springs forth from his fertile mind; and it is a correct assumption to make most of the time, however, not in terms of this novel. One of the most interesting pieces of trivia about Under the Dome is that King began working on the project in 1976 and it took him over thirty years to complete the story.
Under the Dome is not a book that could be considered beach reading by any stretch of the imagination, nor will it be the type of novel that will be enjoyed by all who try to tackle it. This is the case not only because of its size, but also due to the foul language, sexual content, most notably a gang rape scene, and the alluding to of necrophilia. There’s rampant drug use, a good degree of violence, and, some literary critics might opine, too many examples of people treating one another in utterly detestable ways. The dome is the catalyst which gets the people of the town of Chester Mills, Maine to adopt particular behaviors that they normally wouldn’t engage in. The true conflict of the novel, however, is the incredible capacity for cruelness that human beings are capable of toward one another in certain situations. In this blogger’s opinion, that is the theme at the heart of King’s work, and, what he hopes we will gleam from his tale. If some of the aforementioned subject matter has given you second thoughts about perhaps reading this novel, fear not Constant Reader. Even with those aspects permeating the literary landscape of the novel, the genius you’ve come to expect from Stephen King is prominently showcased in his plot pacing and typical exceptional character development.
With over a thousand pages of writing, you would assume that Under the Dome is a multigenerational tale, but you would be wrong, just as I was. The book, despite its length, only covers a period of six days. The novel contains characters both large and small and is written in a style that is Dickensian in nature.
If you missed out on purchasing a hardcover edition of the book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Under the Dome when it is released in paperback on July 6th. If you’re a fan of the television show Lost, this book is definitely for you. If you can exercise a certain degree of patience, and not think about the novel’s length, you’re in for a rewarding literary experience from, if not the greatest, then certainly, one of the greatest writers of popular fiction. Lastly, if you’re a Stephen King fan, then you most assuredly will not be disappointed, because even though it might have taken him over thirty years to complete, the master is beyond a shadow of a doubt at the top of his game with this novel.