Monday, May 30, 2011

Duddits is their dreamcatcher

The more I read of Stephen King's Dreamcatcher, the more I wanted to read. I joked in my last post about the book that in the first 116 pages, nothing really happened. Nothing in terms of action anyway. And I said how that was OK because I loved the characters King was introducing me to. What I didn't mention was that I came to that appreciation after I had already gotten to the point of loving the characters. In the beginning, I had trouble getting into the story. I didn't yet care about the characters, there was no action to draw me in and I hadn't bothered to learn anything about the story. And the length of the book, while not the longest ever, is still just over 600 pages and long books tend to intimidate me anyway.

*Possible spoilers.*
But obviously, I did make it past those first pages and then the story grabbed me and held on. The story deals with aliens and an alien infection and government cover-up but of course, the characters make the story. And in this case it's the childhood friendship of the main characters: Pete, Beaver, Henry, Jonsey and their heart, their dreamcatcher, Duddits. Duddits has Down Syndrome, which gives him this childlike simplicity, without limiting him to a child's understanding, that is sweet and heartbreaking and beautiful. It could have easily moved into cliches at this point, and King is certainly not immune to them, but Duddits manages to be a complete, round character. Duddits manages to be a center

Standing in opposition to Duddits' pure love is Kurtz, the general (?) in charge of containing the grayboys and their Ripley virus. His mission is to make it like they, both the aliens and his men, were never there. Neither the containing of the aliens nor the cover up seem particularly unusual in an alien conspiracy. It's what's expected and the reasoning is sound. It's hard to argue that an alien fungus should not be contained and that it is of the utmost important that those who are infected are not able to infect other people. This is war and war is hell. But Kurtz goes to another level. He shows no empathy, he's unpredictable and everything he does is an act, honed to cultivate a certain image. He's an awful human being, but he's a lot of fun to read. It's just another compliment to King's ability to create believable, interesting characters. They can be the embodiment of love, of hate or just something in between, and they're fun to read.

There is one other part of the book that I loved: the representation of Jonesy's memories. I don't want to go into the details but a warehouse of files with everything Jonsey ever knew and his safety office was fantastic. I (almost) want to see the movie just to see how they do those scenes.
*Spoilers contained*

I was considering seeing the movie version right after reading this. I don't remember too much about it when it came out other than Jason Lee was in it and, begin from NJ, I'm a fan of his from the various Kevin Smith films he's showed up in. Normally, I'll hold off on reading a movie review until I've seen the movie. I know that sounds a little backwards but other than seeing a general movie score (however many starts Ebert gave it and the Rotten Tomatoes score) I'd rather go into a movie fresh. This time, for whatever reason, I decided to read Ebert's review. It's not positive, but to be honest it sounds like something I would expect to happen with a story like this.

If anyone has seen the movie, let me know if I should check it out or avoid it!

Title quote from page 454

King, Stephen. Dreamcatcher. Scribner, 2001.