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Posts Tagged ‘children’

Stephen King is having a really cool year. The second part of IT was in the theatres (it was bloody awesome … no pun intended … ok, maybe just a little). And the sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep (which I reviewed several years ago … feel free to look it up), made it to the movies this month (about bloody time). Needless to say, I saw it and Rebecca Ferguson played a delightful Rose the Hat (gave me the hibby-jibbies). So when I heard that this book was on the horizon, I just couldn’t wait and it was spared very little resting time in the stacks at my branch. But enough with the blah-blah-blah, pleasantries and other such bollocks and let’s get on with the blasted review. Yeah?

Tim Jamieson has come to a sudden dead-end in his career, as cop in a Florida town, and has decided to settle for the “greener pastures” of (get this) New York City. An overbooked flight changes his mind and he ends up hitchhiking (with over two thousand dollars for giving up his seat on the plane) towards the North. He soon finds himself in a small, unknown town in the South Carolina. He settles and finds a job as a night knocker: basically a cop that patrols the town and knocks on the doors of businesses and certain individuals in order to make sure all is well. The pay sucks, it is simple and he is unarmed, but life in this town is just as simple and nice. Or so it seems … for the time being.

Luke Ellis is twelve-year old kid. He is your typical twelve year old with a few minor exceptions: he is quite the child prodigy and when he is in a certain mood eating utensils and other things tend to move around on their own. Yes, Luke is telekinetic. And then one night, Luke’s parents are murdered and Luke is kidnapped and brought to a strange place in Maine known as …. (wait for it) … The Institute. The institute is run by a psychotic, Nurse Ratched type named Mrs. Sigsby and is staffed by a bunch of motherless, ex-military types of varying specialties. On entrance to the Institute many of the kids are told a yarn about them serving their country and saving the world …. and then the brutality …er, testing begins. Despite these are pre-pubescent teens, failure to confirm is met with physical abuse and even a form of water torture that makes waterboarding feel like a quaint baptism. Wait, a minute … children being separated from families and treated badly? Sounds familiar. Maybe not, only from the strange and twisted mind of King. Aye, that’s it. Along the way Luke befriends Kalisha Benson (who sounds like the Afro-American girl in last season’s Stranger Things), Nick Wilholm (the rebel), Avery and George Iles. Sort of like a twisted verstion of the Breakfast Club, except that these kids never go home, detention seems permanent and Mr. Vernon does not give out 500 word essays to write when they act up … they either get pummeled or tortured. But all is not lost, since the kids have found a friend in the form of Maureen Alvorson (a woman that re-stocks the vending machine that offers cigarette-type looking candies and alcohol … yes, you read right, among other things). The bad news, in all this, is that the kids don’t know that mom and dad are dead. The really bad news is that Maureen has a sinister ulterior motive that is unknown to these desperately, trusting teens. The kids find out that the Institute is divided into two parts: The Front Half where the new “recruits” are initially deployed for the Guantanamo Experience and then … there is the Back Half where kids simply disappear and are never heard from … ever … and it also features are weird humming sound. When that weird humming sounds changes to a pitch somebody in the world dies … puppies (thankfully) are spared. Somewhere along the line, Luke finds out the fate of his parents despite the Institute’s attempt to isolate him from that information and decides to go Freddy Mercury … and break free. It is during his strange odyssey (which would explain the cover) from the Institute that he crosses paths with Tim Jamieson … and needless to say … the shit hits the fan. And this where I stop for I fear that I will be spilling some unnecessary beans. To say more would be a complete and utter tosser to spoil for everyone … so there.

It. Is. Premium. King. Grabbed from various goings-on in this messed up world King stitches together a frightening quilt of a tale (or is it?) that is bloody disturbing yet intensively-mesmerizing that’ll leave you clinging on to the edge of the covers, as you battle insignificant things like eating, sleeping and bodily functions … all the way the breathtaking conclusion. Though there aren’t any preternatural creatures lurking around, this just might be his most disturbing and frightening yet. Why? Just look around us. Need I say more. And some of us just might utter a silent prayer and hope that this stuff remains bound and condemned to the pages of fiction. Mr. King, you remain America’s scary yet delightful uncle. Jolly good show, my good man.

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davebarrymature
Running title: I’ll Mature When I’m Dead – Dave Barry’s Amazing Tales of Adulthood

Dave Barry, smirking on the cover of the fore mentioned book, reminds me of that funny uncle most people have. You know the type, the one that you are always glad to see because you know that hanging with him will be nothing but pure good times filled with giddy laughter. I have such an uncle. He lives in Canada, possibly the most delightful and funniest bloke ANYONE could ever encounter. Also a great electronic whiz and is probably one of the many factors that influenced me to study electrical engineering during my undergrad years. Awesome chap, and I’m sure if you ever crossed paths with him, you’d feel the same. Alas, it seems that I have detoured a wee bit. So unto the book shall we?

After having read Insane City, I just had to get my paws on the next available Dave Barry book I could find in the stacks. There were many, and of course, this title won because of its quirky title and the cover featured a smirking Dave Barry (alas, I’m a wee bit strange that way). Needless to say, it did not disappoint. The book is a (hilarious) compilation of all things most of us will encounter as an adult (and a parent): dance recitals, colonoscopies, vasectomies (or as Dave so eloquently put it “they cut a freakin hole in your scrotum”), and dog ownership. And of course there are the oddities: visiting Miami (be sure to duck often), saving the newspaper industry, healthcare, the ultimate Jack Bauer script (please, tell me you know who this is … seriously), and deliciously bladder-pummeling parody of Twilight (Fangs of Endearment). By now, from the myriad of seemingly strange topics compiled, your interest should be peeked and your funny bone inside of you is frothing and screaming “GET IT, GET IT, GET IT”. If not, check yourself, you might be a stone or meat popsicle. Though most of his essays are not too far from the sobering truth, they are marinated in infectious and toxic humour which often comes out of nowhere and hits you with a wallop causing you to burst out in giddy laughter or making farting sounds with your mouth … all to the pure dismay of the unsuspecting public that is stuck with you in mass transit. I have probably destroyed many marriage or dating prospects along the way. Oh dear, oh dear … life goes on. There are many (and I do mean MANY) gems in this book. On fatherhood, Dave cautions most men that after childbirth they (men) will have the sex drive of a waffle iron … and there is the possibility that your wife might be sleeping with a Taser. He is however emphatic about women and their reluctance to “get back in the sack” after childbirth: “try passing a mature grapefruit through your urinary tract”. Aye, point well taken … and now every time I see a grapefruit in the supermarket I find myself in a limp. On attending his daughters’ dance recitals: given a choice of attending a recital or having his prostate examined by a scorpion … he would choose the latter (ouch).

Charming, witty, hilarious … and possibly the cure for many forms of depression, Mr. Barry’s writing though not too far from the sobering truth is a pure delight. To those of that are easily amused, this stuff is like super-enhanced heroin to a junkie. You get a constant stream of fixes, though Mr. Barry’s opiate is more likely to leave you with soaked undies rather than lying face down in dark alley in your own froth and vomit. A bit too dark … that one? Aye, I know … sometimes I tend to go there.

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