In The Grip of The Tower

The Dark Tower

Sorry for the lack of new posts in the last few days, but as fate would have it I’m all consumed by two things right now. One is work (Boooring!), the other is “The Dark Tower.”

In case you don’t know, “The Dark Tower” is a series of seven novels written by Stephen King. They are “The Gunslinger” (1982), “The Drawing of the Three” (1987), “The Waste Lands” (1991), “Wizard and Glass” (1997), “Wolves of the Calla” (2003), “Song of Susannah” (2004) and “The Dark Tower” (2004).

I first started reading “The Gunslinger” almost four years ago, in June 2008. It was the height of my obsession with the TV show “LOST” and King’s magnum opus came up once or twice in the in-depth analysis I’ve read, religiously, after every new episode. I was intrigued, and soon after, I was hooked.

I notoriously take forever to finish a book – not because of my reading speed, mind you, which is above average (at least with English texts, curiously enough the German language slows me down a bit) – but for one thing it’s very hard for me to turn off all the noise (figurative and literal) that’s become so much a part of our lives long enough to get into a book. And even once I do I’m still easily distracted and usually give up after a few pages.

(The first time I ever threw all that to the wind and just read and read without interruption was in March of 2008 with Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” the bleak horror of which still haunts me to this day.)

But The Tower, while gripping, didn’t hold my scattered attention the same way. How could it? At 287 pages, “The Road” is just barely longer than the Tower-series’ shortest volume, its first. All told, “The Dark Tower,” Parts I-VII, encompasses 3846 pages. (That’s averaging about 540 per book, if you must know.)

So of course I took my time. I read one non-Tower book in between – “I Am A Strange Loop” by the always fascinating Douglas Hofstadter – and started a few others. But I always came back to The Tower. One part of the appeal certainly was that I could come back. Back to this huge, vast world (many worlds, really) King had created. A world so much bigger than even those seven books. For if you take a look at the author’s bibliography at Wikipedia, note “that books related to The Dark Tower series are denoted with +.” They are quite a lot.

And even though the seventh novel, “The Dark Tower,” brings the tale of gunslinger Roland of Gilead and his ka-tet to a decisive, final conclusion – or so I am led to believe, I have yet another hundred or so pages to read of it – King is not done and he’s certainly not done with The Tower. This April, an eighth book in the series will be published. It is called “The Wind Through the Keyhole” and its story (or at least its framing device) is set between the fourth and fifth volumes.

Maybe it was hearing about yet another entry in this magnificent series, or maybe it was ka, but for some reason I have been making my way through the latter half of Part VII the way I haven’t read a book since “The Road” exactly four years ago. Barring some unforeseen distractions, I will have finished “The Dark Tower” by the weekend.

All of which is to say: Sorry if I haven’t written any lists about movies or so for a while.

For once, I was distracted by something worthy.

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