This is not going to be a very long post. First, let me start by admitting that although I’ve been trying to take a breather from all the Trump news, it hasn’t been easy. Trump news are everywhere and everyone is talking about him. This is not surprising considering the pace at which we’re being shocked, daily, sometimes multiple times within the same day.
In any case, as hard as I tried to escape Trumpland, I somehow ended up reading an article about The Dead Zone, a novel written by Stephen King in 1979. According to the article, the book is having some kind of renaissance due to the similarities between Donald Trump and Greg Stillson, the fictional Bible door-to-door salesman with dreams of becoming president, featured in the novel. That Stephen King could envision such a character back then is both admirable and horrifying. Well, he is a horror writer, after all.
But, as it should be, I was more intrigued with the novel’s main character John Smith. From Amazon’s editorial review:
It’s the story of an unassuming high school teacher, an Everyman, who suffers a gap in time–like a Rip Van Winkle who blacks out during the years 1970-75–and thus becomes acutely conscious of the way that American society is rapidly changing. He wakes up as well with a gap in his brain, the “dead zone” of the title. The zone gives him crippling headaches, but also grants him second sight, a talent he doesn’t want and is reluctant to use. The crux of the novel concerns whether he will use that talent to alter the course of history.
Smith and Stillson’s paths cross at a political rally where they shake hands, and this leads Smith to have a vision of the country under a Stillson presidency. He becomes convinced that he must stop Stillson from becoming President.
How he stops him is an actual twist in the book which is even better than Smith’s original plan. Better yet, Stillson’s story is totally deserving of this particular ending.
The book is fast-paced with well-developed characters. One thing that has stayed with me after finishing the book is the stark contrast between the world back in 1979 and today. I’m pretty sure that if Smith’s story were to happen today, it would be told in haste and incompletely, his motivation for going after Stillson would be distorted. We would be led to believe that he’s just a crazy guy. I found myself marveling at the fact that the public in the novel got to understand, even admire, Smith and his actions. This understanding can only come from careful examination of the facts, and this examination requires time and a longer attention span that the one we usually have today.
The Dead Zone is another winner from Stephen King, and even though it was written 37 years ago, it is incredibly timely. Don’t miss it.