I haven't read any Stephen King books in the past 10 years or so. I read a ton of them in high school and briefly in college and since then have dabbled here and there, but have not read anything he has written since my eldest was born (I think). I saw this in the elibrary a few weeks ago and realized it was an old King book that I didn't devour in my Kind-hey-day. And so, I put it on reserve. Coincidentally (as mentioned in that review) it came up almost simultaneously with The Night Strangers and so I've just finished two horror books back to back.
This is not as I remember King novels, as I recall part of the reason I stopped reading King books as I got older was that they all seemed to ultimately be about religion (Good vs. Evil, God vs. Devil or some such theme in a different monster theme) and fairly repetitive. This book, however, is just about an ordinary man not-so-quietly losing his mind.
I really enjoyed about this book was the setting. I recently read Norwegian Woods (set in 1969, published in 1987) and it did not really feel like 1969/70 to me (maybe in part because it is set in Japan), but this was published 1981 and really feels like 1973/74 to me. The language use felt authentic (rather than dabbled with period words) and the descriptions really made me see the avocado green and autumn harvest colors all around.
I loved when Bart says, "Only one thing that bothers me, and that's a feeling I get from time to time that I'm a character in some bad writer's book and he's already decided how things are going to turn out and why." because of course he is just a character in a book and King's humor here made me smirk.
I also liked "a bank was a place where money was supposed to be like God, unseen and reverentially regarded." Certainly the reverence that we (speaking as a member of consumeristic, materialistic American society) hold for money is religious in modern times and I just loved the idea that the bank manager understands this and holds expectations accordingly.
Although the little recap before the explosion was not necessary, it gave Bart the chance to think through the fact that by going off the grid he "had done things he never would have done otherwise." and that now he "knew what it was to be alive." Certainly when we follow the rules and continue along our standard path life is longer and easier, but usually not as full.
And of course, just before setting off the bomb Bart gives us the most hilarious (but of course amazingly accurate) observation of all: "the fucking you got was never worth the screwing you took."
Overall, it is very well done and a compelling read.