Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Blaze" by Stephen King...er...um...I mean Richard Bachman

It's kinda funny that even the throwaways by Stephen King are good reading, and that's exactly what this story is, a throwaway. Before I explain that, let me explain more about Mr. King's pseudonym Richard Bachman.

The Richard Bachman pseudonym was derived from crime author Donald Westlake's pseudonym Richard Stark (King later used that name as the character in "The Dark Half") and the band Bachman Turner Overdrive. When King would write under the name of Richard Bachman the stories were dark crime novels. He even created a history to this character and a phony picture appeared on some dust jackets. But later once Bachman was outed as King....he would use old photos of himself.

So, knowing that Bachman is "known for" crime novels, this new book "Blaze" won't let you down. Also knowing that it will have that Stephen King read helps. Back to the issue of Throwaway. This book was originally rejected by King and recently rediscovered in some archives. King updated it and made some edits and found that it made for a pretty good book. I definitely agree with that. The book is a fun romp in the criminal world with a Stephen King meets John Steinbeck feel.

The character Blaze is Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. He's a "Big 'un" and a bit brain damaged thanks to his father throwing him down some stairs. To remember this abuse Blaze has a dent in his forehead. Blaze is sent to an orphanage and lives out his youth with constant abuse from the school master and math teacher Mr. Coslaw or known to the kids as "The Law." The back story of Blaze's youth and his adult life with his friend and co-hort in crime George, is told through a series of chapter flashbacks as the main story takes place. The characters of Blaze and George are very much like Lenny and George from John Steinbeck's classic novel "Of Mice and Men." But told with a Stephen King twist, George is dead, but lives on to guide Blaze through ghostly visitations.

The main story revolves around a plot to kidnap Joe Gerard a baby to the extremely rich Gerard family. George and Blaze were cooking up the idea of one last big con to get them to retire, and this kidnapping is their ticket. The plan is to kidnap the baby (babies can't identify the kidnappers) and get a few million dollars and go to Acapulco. Well George is killed during a gambling argument leaving Blaze to take care of himself and to carry out the plan. Blaze is constantly assisted by George in the planning and when the police are close to catching Blaze, George warns Blaze.

Another turn in the plot is that Blaze becomes very fond of the 6 month old Joe and decides to collect the ransom and keep the baby. Without giving away too much of the plot it becomes yet another Stephen King heart tugging story.

Completely away from the story but worth mentioning, Stephen King has pledged that the proceeds from this "throwaway" novel to be donated to the Haven Foundation, which supports freelance artists.

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