by Jay Wilburn
The plan is to reread all of Stephen King’s works in the order that they were published. Richard Chizmar of Cemetery Dance had the vision. I’m doing it because I am a writer and I want to improve my long fiction. I think there is something to be learned through this challenge. As Richard Chizmar and Bev Vincent put up their posts on the official site, I will link those in the corresponding ones of mine on this blog, typically with the “After” posts.
The next piece is his Richard Bachman novel, The Long Walk.
Let’s begin The Long Walk …
I have this story in the four story collection of The Bachman Books I got from a used bookstore back in the early 1990’s. That’s the only way I was able to read Rage this time around. There is an essay at the beginning of this book where King explains why he was Bachman. I read it after I first got this collection, but not since. I don’t remember any of it. I think I’m going to reread it with this revisit of The Long Walk. I’ll share whatever tidbits jump out when I write my After The Long Walk post.
I read The Long Walk first after getting this collection. I knew the Running Man movie, but I went to The Long Walk first. I’m not sure why I picked this story first, but The Long Walk probably sticks with me more than any other Bachman book. My first reading of it was shortly after I read my first Stephen King book, It, in 1990 not long after the TV miniseries came out. I think I read The Stand before The Long Walk, but not many other stories between.
This was before The Hunger Games obviously and so this concept fascinated me. The Running Man and The Long Walk both touch on the concepts of violence and television obsession and what would become reality TV so many years after these stories were penned. Other series would build of the ideas set forth in these stories. There was really nothing else like this that I had ever seen. The kids, the competition, the rewards for one, the fatality of it all, the gross fascination of the population, the overreaching power, the one “ask” that the lone winner each year gets to make, and the skill with which this blunt story is told. All of it. The Long Walk is haunting without a single supernatural element involved. It is so ordinary and barren too without any of the trappings of stories set in the future. It is like an alternate version of the 1970’s airing this slow deathwalk on PBS in drab TV color.
I’m excited to reread this story. I’m excited about so many of the early Stephen King novels ahead of me too. So many of these stories I did not expect to read again because of life, my own writing, and infinity other books still to be read. Stephen King Revisited is an invitation to indulge in all these stories again.
Enough stalling, we have a long walk ahead of us.
You can read my After The Long Walk post once I am finished and once it is available.
Thanks for following along,
Jay Wilburn, writer