Reviewed by: Tommyknocker (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Sun, 02 Nov 2003 18:18:34)
all things serve the beam
I recently read this book although I've been a DT fan for 10 years. It gives a definite insight into things to come. I am looking forward to seeing how Roland deals with the "Breakers"...
Reviewed by: David (email@example.com) (Mon, 13 Oct 2003 16:16:24)
I absolutely loved this story, especially the heartwrenching ordeal Bobby Garfield goes through in his relationship with the breaker, Ted Brautigan, and his mother. And Ted Brautigan is by far one of the greatest characters that King has created, and Hopkins played him perfectly in that average movie adaption that totally destroyed any DT connections. One of King's best. By the way, do the Low Men's living cars sound familiar to anyone? Like the car in From a Buick 8? Hmmm...
Reviewed by: Al (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Sun, 23 Feb 2003 15:13:57)
If you get Hearts... only read the first story
Low Men... was a great story. For those who were starving for something DT after Wizard and Glass (Note: I read "LMiYC" when Hearts in Atlantis first came out.. the other stories just recently and when I read "LMiYC" Everything's Eventual had yet to be published). Brautigan will clearly be back and play a significant role in the remaining DT novels. As for the rest of Hearts in Atlantis, it was really SAD what happened to the remaining characters. "The Blind Willie" story didn't make a great deal of sense. Don't waste your time with the remaining stories.
Reviewed by: Justin (email@example.com) (Sat, 02 Nov 2002 03:06:39)
I've never been hurt by a story before
Hearts in Atlantis takes your expectations about what will/should happen next, and destroys them completely (kinda like life). Its this bold attitude that makes this book something more than escape literature, more akin to experiencing one of life's lesson and walking away with only the scars in your heart to prove it. Early on it references "Lord of the Flies" which I'm mentioning because similarly, its a story about how hard it is to be a boy, and all the things that are a part of becoming a man in a world that is moving on.
**I assume you've read it but if not, spoilers ahead**
This is a review of Low Men in Yellow Coats, as well as the rest of the book (which does indeed connect to DT, just not literally enough for most people). My opinion is that itís about 5 major issues:
- the introduction of Ted, the Breakers, and some DK info
- the loss of a boy's innocence and growiing into manhood (its definitely a guy point of view, like Lord of the Rings)
- survival and reaction ie. throwing everrything at a person and watching in amazement at the fortitude they possess in order to survive (similar to Job in the bible)
- Vietnam, or more importantly, the quanttum shift it caused in peoples thinking.
- King showing us that it wouldn't take mmuch for our world to 'move on', i.e. -- the Knights and people of Gilead were Atlantians, as were earth's hippies, Tolkien's Elves, and any middle-aged writers who ache for their childhoods too.
These issues are dealt with through out the book, but Iíll be reviewing each story individually, with what stood out in my mind.
As I read Low Men, I wasn't expecting a happy story but this is the first one ever that makes me cry every time. First of all itís so nostalgic it hurts (I grew up in the 80's but all I have to do is put on the tunes King describes while reading it and I'm a kid in the 60's)-- and the bittersweet love story with carol was utter gold. Right after the major tragedies happen, you wonder how you would react and you think it could get no worse ... then you experience bobby's heart-breaking downward spiral and its like a nightmare roller-coaster that you can't stop -- especially because you feel everything along with him -- hatred and pity for his mother, an urge to lash out at the world, hopeless desperation as carol exits his life -- and yet h o p e... that we live in a world where things work out in the end -- and that he will see her just one more time. It really blew me away how Bobby changed, and forever changed my ideas about the average criminal, making me take a second to think about what kind of life they have lived, and what extreme factors might be influencing their decisions.
Then the next stories begin, with Hearts In Atlantis. You expect closure, and more about Bobby. Instead, it moves on (as in life) and tells a similar story, with boys that mirror an older Bobby and deals with the pre-Vietnam mood in America's colleges. Carol shows up to get even more of life's hardening experiences, and we come to learn that your choice of friends can drastically change your life. You get the same feeling of despair about Bobby and carol, only desensitized and multiplied by a thousand as you watch the generic college boys succeed or fail (the book forces our minds to grow in so many places I can't name them all). They spend their time foolishly, gambling with their lives because if they drop out of school, the only options are jail (Bobby) or the army (Sully). I think they are a metaphor for the whole generation, which includes hippies, squares, the conscientious, the uninformed, the hopeful, the damned, and everyone who managed to find a scrap of love somewhere in the middle of it all. But similar things have happened before, are happening now, and will continue till the end of time, meaning that we are all Atlantians- or could be (where are they now?)
Why We're in Vietnam takes the reader into manhood, and is short and full of action. It involves working relationships, on-your-feet decisions, and cause and effect reactions wrapped in the daily horror that is the life of an army grunt. The last two stories are basically denouement.
Blind Willy (one of the bullies from Low Men who hurt Carol) has been fundamentally damaged in spirit throughout the course of his life, and we see how his guilt has so over-powered him that he lives a self-prescribed misery everyday, as penance, hidden underneath the acceptable life that a balanced man would normally live. In addition, we catch up with a grown up Sully, on the last day of his life and get to witness King in an almost playful mood- whilst in a heart attack, Sully has a surreal vision of things falling out of the sky and killing people on the highway. The items happen to be goods that any self-respecting yuppie (smirk) would die for; flashy trash all of it. But what kills him turns out to be the only thing with real value- his old baseball glove (King seems to be taking a stab at the rat-race of modern society). The glove is sent back to Bobby informing him of the funeral, which brings it back around (all things serve the beam).
The final story: Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling (It's Twilight Time) is an aging Bobby returning to his home town, one of life's veterans even though he managed to avoid actual war. He's come out the other end of the fire, a true everyday gunslinger that could easily be your uncle for all you know (ask your parents about any stage in their lives, I bet there are at least a few amazing stories to be told there). Back to the book, I have read it several times, first without putting it down I was so enthralled, then slowly to absorb as much as possible, then fast again when the movie came out (which Iíll talk about soon) and each time I'm left feeling like Iíve lived a complete lifetime, a composite built on the different experiences of a generation that Iíve never known so intimately before till now. It would be a crime to give it away the final surprise, so this is all I will say about it. It is so good and connected... you won't be disappointed.
Thatís it. So if youíre ready to put your mind, body and soul through the entire range of emotions (sometimes within the same page!), experience this book, your heart will thank you for years to come. I give it 5 bullets of a different caliber. ka and ka-tet...
P.S. -- Thought the movie was crap- they got everything perfect, i.e. setting, acting, and tone; but completely missed the point! Everything they added was garbage, except the soundtrack. It could have used those minutes to tie things up at the end, instead of tacking on THAT ending)
Reviewed by: Medinaquirin (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Thu, 11 Jul 2002 13:03:40)
A Rush for Tower Fans
I actually listened to the book before I had the chance to read it, my local library only has the audio book, and, at the time that I checked it out, I had no idea that it pertained to the Tower in any direct way. That was, until I sat listening to William Hurt reading of one of Ted's spells ("They'll be water if god wills it."), and suddenly he was saying, "All things serve," and trailed off. My eyes went wide and I sat up straight, my heart was pounding. I finished the sentence with him: "All things serve the Beam."
It is truly fantastic, the movie did it no justice whatsoever, and I was almost euphoric when it ended and Bobby got the petals.
It definetely serves as a good strong link in this chain King has set up, very very good, essential as a link between the DT books, The Regulators, and the mentions of the breakers and also The Crimson King.
Reviewed by: Amanda (email@example.com) (Tue, 9 Jul 2002 10:41:51)
Beautiful, beautiful story
I think this is the most sad and beautiful story I have ever read. It's about loss of innocence, betrayal, friendship, love, and heartbreak. The end has made me cry more times than I can count (there's also enough stuff about the Dark Tower to keep any obsssed freak like me happy). The characters are realistic and unforgettable, the plot is suspenseful and sometimes scary, and the conclusion of the story is just beautiful. Even if you haven't read the Dark Tower series I recommend this book.
Reviewed by: Gilbert Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Sun, 25 Nov 2001 00:48:07)
Got me reading the DT series
I had picked this book up after reading Roger Eberts review of the movie, and making the assumption that it dealt with the kind of themes and elements I've found in my favorite books. It was my first King book, and I read the first story "Low Men in Yellow Coats" in one sitting, staying up most of the night, completely engulfed by ideas of what the tower and the beam are and who is the King and why is the red eye his symbol. Then I became incredibly disappointed to find that the following stories had nothing to do with Teds world and the low men, and in fact, wasn't all that interesting to me after something with such hints of being more epic than The Stand and perhaps as imaginative as "Lord of the Rings". At first I hated King for getting me all riled up over a story I'd never hear, but then I vaguely remembered hearing about the Dark Tower books, and the gunslinger from a friend of mine who was a King fan when I'd brought up westerns, and I realized that King is a friggin' genius. So even though I didn't much care for the rest of the book, I think that LMiYC (there's an ugly acronym) is definitely a great and gentle, at the same time as being harsh and real, story which deepens the world of the gunslinger even more. It was what got me reading the DT series to begin with.
Reviewed by: Anglic1 (email@example.com)
I think that this is one of Mr. King's best written stories. The characters were well written and the interaction was great. I heard there were some references to the DT series and that was what made me pick it up, but it was really the characters and the plot that kept me reading.
Reviewed by: TJ (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This short story type of thing not only had Dark Tower re-lated stuff in it, but it had some touching stuff with Bobby and Carol too. It was great and I loved it. Nothing else to say. Also in the last story in Hearts In Atlantis there is a hint to The Eyes Of The Dragon which Carol says a guy with the initials RF taught her how to be "dim".