Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King (2010)

May 8th, 2013 3:34 pm by mad mags

The Horrors of Misogyny

five out of five stars

* Trigger alert for physical and sexual violence. *

“The stories in this book are harsh. You may have found them hard to hear in places. If so, be assured that I found them equally hard to write in places.”

Ostensibly, the novellas contained within these pages – 1922, Big Driver, Fair Extension, and A Good Marriage (the paperback edition contains a fifth title, Under the Weather; but seeing as I “read” the audio version, I’m out of luck there) – revolve around the theme of revenge: a murdered wife haunts her husband/killer from the afterlife; a rape victim left for dead slays her rapist and his accomplices; a man wishes ill on his undeservedly lucky best friend; and, upon discovering that her husband is a serial killer, a woman attempts to find justice for his victims (past and future) without destroying her own family in the process. And while retribution is indeed a common thread, it takes a backseat to the more toxic and visceral theme of misogyny.

The men in these stories hate women: those they know, those they don’t know, those they wish they knew. Even mild-mannered Harry Streeter, the protagonist of Fair Extension, exhibits the classic trappings of a Nice Guy ™ when reminiscing about his first love Norma, “stolen” from him by his supposed best friend Tom new adobe reader for free. Physical and sexual violence are prevalent, and seen from a variety of perspectives: the perpetrator, the victim, and the perpetrator’s wife. In the strongest of these tales, the women on who war is waged fight back, attaining justice for themselves and others.

1922 – Nebraska, 1922. Wilfred Leland James’s wife Arlette recently inherited 100 acres of farmland from her father upon his passing. Whereas Wilf would like to incorporate this into his own 80-acre homestead, Arlette would rather sell all 180 acres and move to the bubbling metropolis of Omaha. The most obvious solution to the couples’ acrimonious, months-long standstill is divorce (however unlikely that might have been circa 1922), with the couple doing as they choose with their respective parcels of land download the game mill. Complicating matters is that the most likely buyer for Arlette’s property – located upstream of Wilf’s – is the Farrington Company, an early factory farmer of pigs, which would pollute the air with the sounds of dying hogs and fill the river with their discarded blood and guts. An unabashed consumer of animal products (including pork), Wilf is the ultimate “not in my backyard” carnist. His consternation is understandable, yet hardly worthy of sympathy.

While Arlette recruits lawyers from the Farrington Co. to “nudge” Wilf in the right direction, her aggrieved husband settles on a different solution. He decides to murder Arlette – and convinces their 16-year-old son, Henry, to help him do it. The plan goes off with only the slightest of hitches (turns out that slitting a person’s throat is a pretty messy business!), thanks in part to a conservative Christian sheriff who’s reluctant to investigate Arlette’s disappearance – a woman being, as per the Bible, her husband’s business capital bra allein herunterladen. But Arlette won’t go quietly: Wilf becomes convinced that she and her rat minions are haunting him from beyond the grave. Whether supernatural or merely psychological, the events awaiting Wilf in the decade following Arlette’s murder are undeniably tragic. Though it’s nice to see Wilf get his, Henry and his girlfriend Shannon hardly deserve to get caught in the crossfire as they do. In this case revenge is swift, but not altogether just.

1922 is by far the most difficult story to sit through, narrated as it is by such a loathsome human being. The ending is satisfying, but not quite worth listening to hours of Wilf’s misogynist ravings. In his reading, Craig Wasson really brings Wilf to life – not altogether a good thing. Inspired by Wisconsin Death Trip, now on my wishlist herunterladen. 3/5 stars.

Big Driver – “$1,500 was more than fair. Of course, when she was lying in a culvert, coughing up blood from her swollen mouth and nose, it didn’t seem fair at all. But would 2,000 have been any fairer? Or two million? Whether or not you could put a price tag on pain, rape, and terror was a question the Knitting Society ladies had never taken up.”

When Tessa Jean’s rape is foreshadowed in the first chapters of Big Driver, I rolled my eyes and had to fight the urge to skip right past the story. We live in a culture saturated with rape: rape is in the news (Steubenville, Rehtaeh Parsons, Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio), a plot point in your favorite television shows (everything from the obvious – Law & Order: SVU – to the fantastical – Game of Thrones, Supernatural, The Walking Dead), on the big screen in shocking, larger-than-life detail (Evil Dead, The Hills Have Eyes); rape is even used to sell a variety of products, from cars to alcohol, and is frequently invoked as a joke or metaphor by guys (and not a few gals) between the ages of twelve and ninety-nine (e.g., “I RAPED YOU in Halo!”; Seth Macfarlane’s now-famous “We saw Jodie Foster’s boobs in The Accused!”). Rape isn’t entertaining; it shouldn’t be used as entertainment. In fact, given the statistics – 1 out of 6 U.S. women will experience an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime – the prevalence of rape in books, television, and movies can be downright traumatic for the millions of survivors out there download work programs for free. My first thought upon reading the sentence quoted above (and in spite of my love for Kill Bill)? “Can we place have a moratorium on men writing about rape, PLEASE? That ought to cut it down by at least 75%.”

Thankfully, the rape scene in Big Driver is brief and not especially salacious. The bulk of the story deals with its aftermath, as Tessa Jean – a “small woman with an elfin face, a shy smile, and a job writing cozy mysteries” – decides to take revenge upon her rapist and his two accomplices.

On her way home from a speaking engagement, Tessa takes a rural shortcut recommended by Ramona Norville, the librarian who contracted her at the last minute. There Tess falls into a trap: boards filled with jutting nails litter the road and flatten one of her tires. The seemingly kind giant (nicknamed “Big Driver,” as she’ll later learn) who stops to help Tess instead attacks her, beats her unconscious, rapes her, and leaves her for dead in a nearby culvert musescore herunterladen. Nor is she Big Driver’s only victim: lying in the culvert with her are the corpses of at least two other women. Tess manages to survive by playing dead. Rather than report her rape to the police and let them handle it (“but what’s in it for me?” she repeatedly wonders), Tess hunts down her assailant(s) on her own.

Some readers might find Tess’s course of action questionable – immoral, even – but King eloquently elucidates the fears that keep many women from reporting their assaults. A minor celebrity, Tess is horrified at the thought that her private trauma will become public fodder – an item of entertainment and gossip. Though her rape is of the most “acceptable” or “legitimate” kind – a stranger rape, perpetrated on a “respectable” 30-something white woman, involving violent physical force and culminating in a murder attempt – Tess worries that the public will find a way to blame her for the attack wie kann man bei netflix etwasen. Cue images of revealing outfits she was photographed wearing in public a decade plus ago. Worst of all, Tess is terrified that this brutal incident will come to define her in the public eye; her career and life will be over if she reports.

Coupled with A Good Marriage, Big Driver is the reason behind my 5/5 star rating, even though I wasn’t especially impressed with 1922 or Fair Extension. A satisfying – if draining – story of revenge, I dare you not to root for Tessa Jean, or to take solace in the sisterhood she finds in a fellow rape victim who helps Tessa cover up her own crimes. Sure, it’d be nice if we could count on the justice system to mete out fair and swift punishments; but given the abysmal conviction rate for the crime of rape, it’s hard to fault a woman for taking matters into her own hands uni due word herunterladen. 5/5 stars.

Fair Extension is the only novella that doesn’t quite seem to fit with the other three, no matter the overarching theme: Harry’s “retribution” hardly feels righteous, and whatever misogynist ideas he harbors are dwarfed by his hatred of Tom. In fact, those not versed in “Nice Guy” logic might just miss the misogyny altogether.

Harry Streeter has always resented his best friend Tom – handsome Tom, athletic Tom, smart Tom who cheated his way through high school nonetheless; charming Tom who “stole” Harry’s girlfriend Norma, only to impregnate and (gasp!) marry her; ne’er do well Tom who’s a millionaire thanks in part to a loan Harry the banker approved to fund Tom’s garbage disposal business; Tom who, now in his 50s, is happy and successful and, most importantly, cancer-free. Unlike Harry, whose doctors tell him that he has but mere months left to live. When a mysterious stranger doing business on the Harris Avenue Extension offers him a “fair extension” of his life, he’s understandably skeptical; but upon learning that his bad luck will be passed on to someone he hates, Harry’s all too eager to unleash a tirade against his old pal Tom.

An interesting enough read, but nothing special. 3/5 stars.

A Good Marriage – Stumbling around their garage in search of spare AA batteries for the remote control, Darcy Anderson literally trips over her husband’s secret life: bondage, torture, rape, and murder hallelujah sheet music accordion download for free. For several decades, Bob’s lived a double life as the “Beedee Killer,” a serial murderer who rapes, tortures, and mutilates his victims. (In the afterward, King points to Dennis Rader, the “BTK Killer,” as his real-life inspiration for the story.) Though his crime spree stopped for the first sixteen years of their marriage (now on year twenty-seven), Bob recently resumed his old “hobby” – and with a vengeance. Upon learning of her discovery, Bob promises Darcy that he’ll keep “BD” under wraps, if only she can keep his secret. Torn between her responsibility to Bob’s victims, past and future, and her maternal impulse to shield her children from the knowledge that the father they idolize is in fact a monster, Darcy tentatively agrees – or, rather, becomes rooted in a state of indecision. That is, until she devises a solution that she believes will resolve both problems.

As with Big Driver, the story is dicey in some areas but eventually culminates in a deeply satisfying conclusion. Like Tess, Darcy fears – somewhat understandably – that she’ll be blamed for the misdeeds of another: after all, how could she share a home – a bed herunterladen! – with an infamous serial killer and not at least suspect that something is amiss? Also like Tess, Darcy finds comfort and support in a kindred spirit – in this case, Holt Ramsey, a semi-retired detective who’s harbored his own suspicions about Bob Anderson from the early days of the Beedee investigation.

And, just as Big Driver’s hatred of women was laid bare during the rape scene (he calls Tess a “whiny bitch” and dances around her unconscious, half-naked body), Bob’s misogyny is also evident: he blames his victims for their murder, calling them “snoots” who are happy to flirt with him but never put out. The stories he tells Darcy are later revealed as the self-serving lies they are – the same drivel spouted by men who think they have the right to women’s bodies, and those who inevitably rush to their defense. This is misogyny. This is rape culture. And it is indeed horrific. 5/5 stars.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King (2010)”

  1. fuck yeah reading: 2013 books » V for Vegan: Says:

    […] Dark, No Stars, Stephen King (2010); reviewed here […]

  2. Book Review: Behind Dark Doors, Susan May (2014) » V for Vegan: Says:

    […] in the Genes,” for example, is reminiscent of Stephen King’s “A Good Marriage” (coming soon to a big screen near you!) – but without the psychological tension and element […]

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