to walk worthily of the Lord, pleasing him in all respects

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cell, King and a psalm

Stephen King's Cell is the story of a current day apocalypse brought about through a mysterious signal sent through cell phones. At about 3 o'clock, Oct 1, people using their cell phones heard something that caused them to lose their minds. The signal erases their minds and causes their brains to revert back to the most primal level - murderous rage. Freud, somewhere , smiles. I paraphrase my favorite line - "Survival, like love, is blind." In some ways, the story is very similar to King's The Stand - though briefer and less sweeping - oh, and less creepy. Everytime I hear a few sneezes or coughs in a crowd I think of Ca[tain Trips.

I don't wish to spoil the book for you - I would recommend it as one of King's average (whcih is to say, good) works (I am not as well read as some in his works, and have read little of his writings from the last 15 years).

I think it's an intersting, though not overly deep, critique of middle class life. Cell is an enjoyable read as social criticism, if for no other reason than it is defiantly anti-cell phones (and the way people use them). It would have been cool if King could have worked into the story an incident where a person was on the phone in a public bathroom when the signal came. I could almost hear one of the survivors relating how he was on the can, irritated because some guy was talking to his girlfriend while taking a leak. "Next thing you know, he goes crazy and starts attacking the guy at the urinal next to him. I ran out before he could get me. Who knows - guy may still be in that bathroom. Would serve him right."

I will say that reading King now, as a grown man with a wife and children is considerably different enterprise from when I read him in my youth. I would say I like reading him more now since I understand his perspective a bit better (as an adult - I don't know whether he has children). I also like (close your ears, Freud) stories that deal with fathers and sons (though this one is a bit different, b/c I identified with the father more).

Finally, the use of Psalm 40 is stunning. I was a bit disappointed by a bible thumper character King describes in Cell, simply b/c she didn't know her Revelation well. I felt at that point that King should have a better command of the Bible, but the then later a character recites the psalm in a very substantive and creative way. But King got 40. Indeed, he created a context where penance for sins and deliverance from enemies is about all one could pray for.

Oh, and he mentions U2, "When Love Comes to Town," as a positive example of a rock song.


Lindy Erin said...

The book sounds good. I'll look into it perhaps. :) Thanks for keeping up on my blog. Blessings in the warm state. New York NEVER STOPS RAINING.

Greg said...

Actually Stephen King has at least a couple of children. I think part of the difference in reading is not just that we are adults now, but also that his writing has changed dramatically as he has gotten older as well.
I'm not too surprised by his use of a biblical text (I have not read The Cell yet, but it sits on my bookshelf). King is well-versed in biblical knowledge generally speaking. He says he was raised a Methodist and continues to believe in God although he no longer attends church regularly. Although many of his books employ biblical imagery, you can't top The Stand for this. The book reads like an apocalyptic version of the Genesis flood story.

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