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Stephen King - The Ranking

10. The Long Walk (1979, German "death march", as Richard Bachman) ★★★★ ½

The first book King wrote, begun in 1966, is also one of the best of his "Bachman novels". In a dictatorial American society of the future, teenagers can take part in the “long march”. Those who hold out the longest will get everything they want for the rest of their lives.

The others: are shot by the motorized soldiers accompanying them on the roadside. Unless the kids die of exhaustion beforehand - breaks are not allowed and a minimum running speed is specified. Defecation, eating, even sleeping, all while walking.

The attraction is not just to portray hostilities and alliances within the youthful contestants, or how they master the challenge of having to do everything in constant motion. King succeeds in some of his most beautiful landscape descriptions, over long stretches he is characterized by an almost meditative calm; elsewhere, King demonstrates how bad rain and sun can be when it comes to survival.

The criticism almost fades into the background: How incentives lead young people into disaster, but also how blind we - here embodied by the fatherly "major" - are to their efforts to impress us.

09. Blaze (German "Qual", 2007) ★★★★ ½

For decades it perished as a pigeonhole novel, the first version is said to be even older than the debut "Carrie" from 1974. King never got warm with the story. The starting situation offers melodrama and kitsch according to the pattern “irreconcilable extremes that come together”: A petty criminal with intellectual disabilities kidnaps a baby to demand a ransom, but then becomes aware of fatherly affection. The police are chasing the unpredictable "idiot" who has had a life of hardship and is now simply wishing for a little luck. Stephenie Meyer would have made a beautiful, sad book of tears and Ron Howard a beautiful, sad film of tears out of this material.

Stephen King has managed to get around clichés in a miraculous way (only once, because the little one, of course, promptly pees on the new daddy's chest when he picks it up - that's "Look who's talking" level) . "Blaze", named after the kidnapper, documents what kind of writer the young King could have become. The language is vastly different from his actual language, regardless of how much he edited the manuscript before it was published in 2007. The sentences are shorter and more laconic, fat-free, the tendency to talkativeness is not yet apparent. The narrative is humorous - not on the usual King level of coarseness and grotesque. The robbery scene in which Blaze is pointed out after supposed success that he forgot to pull off his stocking mask could be King's funniest. The outcome of the situation speaks for itself - no dialogues that first emphasize the absurdity; King always messes up most of his gags himself because his protagonists like to laugh at their own gags. But here finally none of the characters is laughing, only us readers.

Clayton "Blaze" Baysdell, Jr. grew up much of his childhood in the orphanage, where he was finished off with foster families. John Irving, Charles Dickens, Astrid Lindgren, Mark Twain, they all had great breakout stories to tell. King himself named Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" as a major influence, as well as the works of James M. Cain and Horace McCoy. He expects his hero to run out like a fairy tale, he and his friend John find a wallet with 250 dollars, go to Boston and treat themselves to a day with skyscrapers, movies and baseball, which has something of "Midnight Cowboy" on it, only when young Age and without sexual (self-) exploitation.

Blaze later becomes a crook, his role model and friend becomes the thief George. He sees himself as a modern Robin Hood who sees the cause of poverty in the politics of the Republicans. "It was a dirty world, and the longer you lived, the dirtier you got," reflects Blaze with almost hardboiled clarity. In any case, this is not a world in which a person like him is helped.

08. Hearts in Atlantis (1999, German: "Atlantis") ★ ★ ★ ★ ½

"We blew it", it says in Dennis Hopper's "Easy Rider", meant the failure of a whole generation, the "Baby Boomers", who protested against the Vietnam War and Nixon, but then quickly became full and fat and like their parents . As a student, King also demonstrated at the university - so he also means himself when he speaks of people who have betrayed their own ideals. "We had the opportunity to change everything," it says at one point. "Instead, we made do with designer jeans, two tickets for Mariah Carey and the Radio City Music Hall, frequent flyer miles, James Cameron's‘ Titanic and pension funds. "

🌇 View pictures from "The ten best Stephen King films" here now

This book about "hearts" combines three novellas and two stories in "Atlantis". The prestigious title can of course also be broken down very simply to the members of a student association who prefer to play the card game Hearts instead of preparing for university exams, which save you the expulsion from campus and thus probably being called to Vietnam if you have good grades would.

Stephen King: Now he was no longer "the horror writer"

The stories take place between 1960 and 1999, so leave enough space not only to track down the politically charged time before the jungle war, the Cuba crisis, the Kennedy assassination attempt and the Lyndon B Johnson egg dance, but also the aftermath of this "lost generation".

In the foreword Stephen King reaches for the stars, "I told you all the rest to tell you about this", and clichés like "neon signs that are reflected in puddles" and "Negro children in the drizzle of half-open hydrants" are level. But the fantastic (“Low Men In Yellow Coats”) works so well alongside the non-fantastic (“Hearts In Atlantis”) that King was finally able to shed the unfairly imposed image of the “horror writer” at least 20 years ago.

In “Blind Willie” a Vietnam veteran goes begging, but he doesn't just play the role of the blind man. At a very specific time of the day, he actually loses his sight. Willie accepts this as a form of punishment; as a child he beat up his classmate Carol Gerber, as a young adult she would be killed in a bomb attack by her group of students (“Militant Students for Peace”). He feels responsible for it. In an almost perverse interpretation of his claims to life, he finds, "nothing breaks hearts more than a blind man with a baseball glove, God bless America."

But of course the best sentence falls within the card game of the committed "Hearts" players. Political debates fizzle out when there is so much babbling, smoking, drinking and debating again. "Does that mean you've changed your mind about the war, Pete?" The answer: "What opinion?"

07. The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass (1996, German: "Glas") ★★★★ ½

The "Battle of Jericho Hill", King once noted, he still has to write it down, he just doesn't know how (it already appeared as a comic). But at some point he also had to face this other story from the Dark Tower, which was only reported on but not yet told: How did the boy Roland become the lonely gunslinger, the "tall, tall, ugly" one? Why is he so obsessive about finding the Dark Tower? And why is he so incredibly humorless? Here he is at least trying to crack a joke: instead of “Ka”, the holy word of that world, he says “Kaka”. His companions can only stare at him with open mouths.

“Wizard and Glass” is dedicated to Roland's youth, how he became a tragic, involuntary mother-murderer, and how he lost the love of his life, Susan Delgado - those teenagers he almost gave up in search of the tower had been ready. King writes in the epilogue of a “terrible fear” that would have befallen him before he started working on this romance, as tension would have been easier for him.

He made an effort, but some things actually read like romances from the riding school. Susan rubs her "silk bud" on the pommel of the saddle. Other descriptions should be treated in full: “She was burning, she was burning in her bed like a torch. And when the sun finally rose over the horizon a short time later, she was sound asleep, with the slightest smile on her face, and her loose hair lay over one side of her face and on the pillow like spun gold. "King often slept on echauffeured the success of Stephenie Meyer and her "Twilight" novels, in which teenagers fall miserably in love, with dramatic consequences. Much more stylish than their YA fantasies, however, as can be seen here, his own are sometimes not either.

Tolkien and Sergio Leone

Fortunately, "glass" does not only consist of awkwardly composed moments of cohabitation. King felt inspired by an early visit to the cinema of the Leone film “Two Glorious Scoundrels”, wanted to write a novel that combined fantasy and fan fiction, “although it did understand Tolkien's sense of adventurous searching and magic, but in front of Leone's almost absurdly majestic western backdrop played. "

And he succeeded. There are saloon confrontations, duels with the failed gunslingers known as the "great coffin hunters" and a meticulously executed rider attack from an ambush, which for the first time demonstrates the tactical and combative greatness of the three teenage friends Roland, Cuthbert and Alain and a milestone among the action scenes Kings is.

With the witch Rhea vom Cöos, King also created one of his most vicious characters - even if this superlative should have fallen a few times in the list of the best King books. Witches are among the most popular fairy tale characters, it is not easy to add new facets to them, those that go beyond wart noses and crooked fingers. This crystal ball Rhea, however, becomes a decisive opponent of Roland Deschain. She is responsible for the loss of two loved ones; basically it starts the gunslinger's search for the tower.

06th Revival (2014)

★★★★★

Every novel is also an homage, as authors at least subconsciously let inspiration flow into their works. Stephen King already gets to the point in his dedication, he names eleven names, including great mothers and forefathers of horror (Mary Shelley and Arthurmachen), fathers (H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker), and companions (Peter Straub). The apostate priest Charles Jacobs, who experiments with electricity as a circus preacher and believes he can explore the afterlife, comes from the classic Ray Bradbury figure pool (the allusion can be found directly in the stage name "Dr. Electrico ").

King naturally adopted the idea of ​​the first-person narrator, who reports on a great misfortune from the first few pages, from Lovecraft. But unlike his role model, who constructed chronicles of announced tragedies, he keeps his readers in the dark as to whether there might be a happy ending for his character Jamie Morton - what flourishes for him is only revealed on the last pages. The target grades remain in the dark.

Not death, not light, not rest

"In view of what may await me after death, I want to live as long as possible," is Morton's conclusion, and Stephen King is unlikely to have come up with anything more cruel than such a résumé. There has never been such a bad ending to a novel since the "cemetery of the cuddly toys". This is what awaits people after their death: "Not death, not light, not rest." The ex-junkie and musician followed the experiments of his former father figure Jacobs, whom he has known since childhood. After the death of his wife and child, the former Reverend turned away from God and wants to try to glimpse into the hereafter using “secret electricity”, a “force that goes beyond human understanding” and “founded our universe” can. To do this, he has to find people who are ready to die.

Electricity is not man-made, of course, and King's novel is devoted to the question of what God, faith and religion are all. An old man with a long beard, some inexplicable energy? Morton believes that the ex-clergyman Jacobs is driven by a completely different engine than the search for the meaning of life: He cannot take revenge on God, who took his family away from him, so he conducts his experiments on the terminally ill.

Jacobs sees religion as a kind of insurance policy that you pay into with faith as currency and that you end up getting nothing from. This is another reason why he wants to rush into the hereafter: To desecrate religion, to show that God does not exist, all baptisms, prayers, all religious wars took place in vain. In perhaps the most impressive dialogue, the pastor approaches the young Jamie while playing with plastic soldiers on a mound of earth. Children want to be big and exercise control, toys are there for that too, and here in the oversized shadow of Jacob ‘it becomes clear that the child will never be able to completely detach himself from him; a military-strategic dialogue arises about what is happening with the action figures.

Stephen King also put his own "belief system" on paper: He plays in the band Rock Bottom Remainders, and his character Jamie Morton is also an enthusiastic guitarist. The electric guitar runs on electricity, and there are quite a few people for whom music is a link to God.

05. Misery (1987, German: "you")

★★★★★

After the huge success of “Es” a year earlier, the German publisher probably thought to itself, of course, “Sie” - that's just as attractive. Fortunately, we were spared "He", out of which smart publishing people could probably have made "The Dark Half" two years later.

The original "Sie" title "Misery" is much more appropriate: It not only describes a character in a novel, but also human misery. Originally planned as a "Bachmann book" under a pseudonym - and in the tradition of Bachman's horror stories without mystical horror - the then 40-year-old King had to publish the novel under his real name after his alias was exposed.

Fear of his own popularity, but also of losing control, King had this story written about a crazy female fan who, by a wink of fate, rescues his favorite writer from an accident - and does not release him from his own hospital bed. The punch line is, of course, that you might expect fans of rock stars or actors to attack their idol, as happened with John Lennon or the several female singers who are dragged to the floor on the open stage. But writers? King's colleague and friend, “Jack Reacher” bestseller author Lee Child, put it in a nutshell: “Writing is show business for shy people”, he shares in his biography “Reacher said nothing”. “Or for invisible people. The focus is on the book, not the author. We are out of sight. So we are not a comparable target either. "

Stephen King wasn't just afraid of fans, he was afraid of himself. “Annie Wilkes is cocaine. She was my number one fan, ”King said in the ROLLING STONE interview. The, well, gradually amputated writer Paul Sheldon speaks extensively about narcotics and all sorts of other drugs - here King himself expressed very clear needs for drugs.

Oscar for Kathy Bates

“Misery” would become one of Stephen King's most popular books, the chamber piece-like setting was ideal for performances, of course plays followed, and with Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in 1991 for the first time - and never again - someone received an Oscar for participation in a King film, here even as "Best Actress". Bates ‘outburst of anger has become popular, immortalized in several trailers when she speaks of the cliffhanger fraud in the series.

The novel is brutally told, without sympathy for one side or the other, and Paul Sheldon's meticulously timed attempts to escape in a wheelchair hit the mark.The coldness that King felt while writing is reflected in his characters: We don't learn much from the writer Sheldon other than that he regards his dime fictional character Misery with disgust and sarcasm. Annie Wilkes, on the other hand, is thoroughly disarming because she is mentally ill.

Your contradictions seem more like an expression of a psychosis than they could be real character traits. As the story progresses, it is revealed that Annie has always murdered loved ones, family, roommates and lovers. Perhaps she would be more terrifying if she only developed her deadly intentions in the face of her favorite author.

04. The Stand (1978, German "The last battle")

★★★★★

Celebrated as Kings Magnum Opus even before the “Dark Tower” series, “The Stand” was long considered impossible to film because of its abundance of locations and characters. King even added an “Extended Edition” of this story, the new German version comprising more than 1100 closely printed pages.

A virus has wiped out almost everyone, and in the “Den of Sin” Las Vegas, the survivors, good people against bad people, compete in the “last stand”. For King, who has rarely written about his own faith, an almost religious work. In fact, the characters discuss at length whether the virus could have been a punishment from God; Fortunately, in his 1990 revision, King refrains from suggesting obvious theories that people might relate to AIDS.

The trick is that "Captain Trips" is actually a virus created by the military, so it is human work - but the mysterious Randall Flagg, a man whose connection to dark forces remains unexplained, the chaos on earth for his Purposes to use knows. In this respect, the devil, and with it the spiritual, is involved.

Please no second narration of human history

If you want to learn something about King's writing process, this is the place for you. In his memoir "On Writing" (2000) he reports how the novel had almost slipped away from him from halfway through, he no longer knew what to do with the story - and feared that he would never be able to complete it. It remains unmistakable that King had actually been blabbing for a long time: After the “good” survivors have gathered and founded a new civilization, there is a very detailed discussion - Glen Bateman loses almost all sympathies in the process - about ways of how the new constitution should look I have who should be elected to the government, how to deal with human rights, etc. The book is unnecessarily distancing itself from its starting position, and the author practices as a state philosopher. King himself admits that he was concerned that he was spending too much time documenting the rebuilding of civilization: Then he would tell the story of mankind a second time, and yet people keep making the same mistakes. Only with the dispatch of the "spies" to the enemy Flagg, for whose journey and finding meaning King still uses Tolkien most clearly, does the story pick up speed again.

In any case, no other of his books has such a successful, balanced series of characters in which one is only too happy to lose oneself. Flagg, who makes his first appearance in "The Stand", would keep King busy to this day. With Lloyd Henreid and the "Trash Can Man" he put two extraordinary psychopaths at his side, one perverted and stupid, the other a sad, big child with a pyromaniac urge.

And then of course there are the great heroes that the author has never created a second time: the silent all-American hero Stu Redman; his later companion, the selfish rock star Larry Underwood, who will then sacrifice himself for the common good; the pregnant Frances Goldsmith, who, apocalypse and virus or not, firmly believes in a future for her child; the touching duo consisting of the young, clever, deaf-mute Nick Andros and the mentally retarded Tom Cullen; Nadine Cross, who suspects her sad fate; the unsympathetic but pitiful teenager Harold Lauder, who only changes sides because he can never get a stab with women. Even the Roman dog, Kojak, will keep you busy after the book is over.

However, what will increasingly influence King's work from “The Stand” onwards is the author's challenging humor. Especially the gallows humor. The characters' self-talk is on the rise, and the writer's quirk of making them giggle or laugh at their thought experiments in the most absurd, dangerous situations is unnerving. The more precarious the situation, the more often people have to hold their hands over their mouths in order not to blow up or laugh hysterically. But even the word play before sex, the personalities under the covers, are arranged in a child-like manner. King loves puns and fecal language very much - or at least puts them in his characters' mouths - and there are quite a few moments that are completely defused to the point of absurdity as a result. He's just not a humorist.

But also in terms of the positive, King still has to bear on his early masterpiece today. Again and again, he said, he was asked at readings what the characters in the novel were up to now. How is Tom Cullen doing? What is Frances's child doing? There would be no point in continuing the “last stand”. But you want it.

03. Different Seasons (1982, German: "Spring, Summer, Autumn and Death")

★★★★★

THE collection of the best short stories. This was preceded by talks with the publisher and King's agents; At first they wanted him to be the “horror” writer, not the writer who deals with earthly dramas. Eight years after his debut "Carrie," King had the power to get his four stories out. And what else would we have missed!

"Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" tells the innocent story of Andy Dufresne, a banker who sits in Shawshank Prison for the murder of his wife. Andy, sincere and lightning-savvy, a person to whom our heart belongs immediately - because experiencing injustice can trigger the strongest feelings. The prison breakout story, which is teeming with corrupt and brutal officials, is given to Gravitas by the narrator named Red. King leaves no doubt that the breakout will succeed. A real winner's story among the prison dramas in which the good finally triumphs.

In “Apt Pupil” King devotes himself to the subjects of seduction, age advantage and in general the “fascination of evil”. The pupil Todd is certain to have recognized a hiding Nazi criminal in the seemingly harmless neighbor Dussander. But instead of exposing him publicly, he puts the old man under pressure: He should let him share in his knowledge, and the crueler his stories from the Third Reich, the better. The war experiences feed the boy's imagination, both enter into an alliance of convenience, actually they quickly hate each other, but they also blossom again in perverse ways. Dussander and Todd kill homeless people.

King describes an evil moral: that knowledge leads to new atrocities in the wrong hands, and that abysmal evil really does exist. While Dussander looks like a sleeping beast, Todd, who doesn’t seem to have anything good in him, is baffled, but has only waited to let his brutality run free - which always seems systematic, never impulsive. Because he is young, he still loses control in the end.

Stand By Me

"The Body," the third novella, would also become one of the most loved ones. Superficially a story of four friends who go in search of a child's corpse that is supposedly hidden in a river bed. Above all, King designed an alter ego with the character of the talented writer, twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance (both are also of the same year, the plot takes place in 1960). The confrontation with nature, its beauty, but also the dangers that arise when walking through the woods, breathe the adventurous spirit of the coming-of-age stories by John Steinbeck. King is always in top form when writing about the friendship of young people, especially when they have to defend themselves against older bullys and only narrowly escape death. In "The Body" the final sentence of the now grown-up Gordie moves to tears.

“The Breathing Method”, the final story, is also the most magical, glowing - and somehow also the most beautiful of the “four seasons”. New York in the 1920s, a doctor falls in love with his patient, who wants to give birth to her illegitimate child under all circumstances, even if that would mean her exclusion from society; the medic teaches her a breathing technique that will not only support her contractions but also save her child.

"The Breathing Method" not only tells about life and survival in a strict social order, King also pays tribute to his role models Lovecraft and Poe: He seldom described a men's club as bizarre as it is mysterious as the one in which the story of the doctor and himself Patient is told; the people drink tea and are polite, but there seem to be dark things going on in other rooms on the floor that the butler doesn't want to report on. A fascinating intermediate realm that one wishes King would return to (for the short story "The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands" he did that in the same year).

"Different Seasons" offered such a rich material that three of the four novels were filmed - only "The Breathing Method" is still waiting to be implemented. “The Body” became Rob Reiner's “Stand By Me” in 1986, and Frank Darabont filmed “Rita Hayworth…” in 1994 as “Shawshank Redemption”, according to imdb rating the best film of all time. Only “Apt Pupil”, brought to the screen in 1998 by Bryan Singer with Ian McKellen in the role of former Nazi Dussander, fell short of expectations.

02. 11/22/63 (2011, German: "The attack")

★★★★★

Travel into the past to prevent a murder, or, on the contrary, to carry out a murder - and thus accept that the entire history of the world will change. Everyone has had thoughts like this before. What would happen if Hitler had been stopped in time? What would our life be like if Jesus hadn't died on the cross?

In "11/22/63" the English teacher Jake Epping travels back in time to prevent the murder of John F. Kennedy. In German the novel is called “The Attack”, “Das Assentat” would have been better, but it has already been awarded for “The Dead Zone” - both books share the idea of ​​killing someone for a higher cause and a better future. Both are united by the motif of the man with a rifle, aiming at a politician from an elevated position, an image that King was never able to completely banish from his thoughts.

Preventing the assassination is also the dream of the Democrat Stephen King, who was 16 when his president was shot while driving in an open limousine and who repeatedly drew a line from JFK to Vietnam, race riots, Nixon and Watergate in his factual texts. The “We blew it” that he attested to his generation in the novel “Atlantis” and that included him did not begin in 1969, but here, in 1963. An American shot an American who had a vision.

Oswald, the lone perpetrator

King saves us the Oliver Stone theories that there was a plot to assassinate Kennedy, be it by the US secret service, the communists, Castro or someone else. The teacher Epping quickly realizes that the shooter Lee Harvey Oswald is an ideologically confused individual perpetrator. That is also the opinion of the writer: to "98, maybe even 99 percent."

In any case, it was a monumental undertaking for Stephen King, who worked intermittently on this novel from 1973 onwards, to design a thriller that essentially has to stand up to a checklist of historical accuracy. This achievement cannot be overestimated. This not only applies to beer and car brands from the late 1950s, but also to the biographical stages of real people such as Oswald or Jackie Kennedy. This novel would also work if it had nothing to do with time travel fantasies, but told a story from the golden 1950s. “Most of the time I stuck to the truth,” King writes in the epilogue, admitting that he only changed a few facts for the sake of the flow of the story in order to give his novel, his first attempt at a kind of documentary fiction, a drive.

"The past does not want to be changed - and defends itself", this mantra Epping, which the time travel portal brings back to 1958, encounters again and again. From then on, he has five years to track down Lee Harvey Oswald. He doesn't just have to learn what it's like to kill someone. But also, if possible, not to leave any traces that would expose him as a time traveler, so that he himself would be responsible for the changed biographies of all those people in whose lives he stepped. That the man who has traveled more than 50 years into the past is considered to be a “subversive” at the school where he hires is still the most harmless assumption.

Epping senses inexplicable hurdles preventing him from achieving his goal, and he falls in love with a colleague from the teaching committee and has to decide whether to explain his identity to her. And King succeeds in making a sentence like "In a weak voice she asked: 'Did you come here from the future" "not like a heroic story from the dime novel, but like the beginning of a rather big problem between two lovers.

King uses his story for two main criticisms. On the one hand, it was important to him to present the assassin for what he might be: a misguided person who believes he has seen a revelation and who in the end, with his finger on the trigger of the most famous rifle in American history, actually does turned into a kind of "monster" that no longer has anything human about it. Here speaks the author who can only explain the incomprehensible with the fantastic.

Then of course the criticism of the judiciary and the police. King is convinced that the attack should never have happened. King also blames the city of Dallas for the ineptitude of officials, the indifference of its citizens. For him, Dallas is Derry, the nest that Jake Epping is drawn to and that plays an inglorious role in "It" as a place from which nothing good comes. The CIA doesn't do well with King either. Authority chief Edgar J Hoover's role in the de-escalation of the failed attack remains unclear. The agents who question the unexpected hero Epping do not believe in President JFK. King's bitter punch line is that Kennedy may have thought it was divine foresight not to have been killed. Yes, to be immortal. And yet the dialogues that Epping has with John F. and Jackie are extremely sensitive.

"Save Kennedy and everything will change, please," was the wish that Jake was given before he started his journey. In the end, the realization, both Eppings and Kings, that you have to let the past rest. No matter what it costs and what opportunities you miss out on. Changed timelines, a "Beatles reunion"? Why not. But what if a suicide bomber blows himself up and McCartney goes blind as a result? Better not.

01. Pet Sematary (1983, German: "Friedhof der Kuscheltiere")

★★★★★

Once buried in the “cuddly toy cemetery”, the dead come back to life to kill the bereaved. It is perhaps King's scariest - according to the publisher, at least the best-selling - novel, written at the height of his cocaine addiction.

The story shows the fear of losing his family because of addiction - in the book the son who has run dead returns as a zombie. And, therein lies the tragedy of this story: It's also about not being able to bring the past back. Should we play god if we could?

Stephen King is often very good at portraying father-son relationships, of course those that fail: “The Shining” is an apt one, as is the relationship between Roland and his foster son Jake Chambers in the “Dark Tower” saga. The portrayal of the father and son Creed going kite for the last time, while we have already learned that the little one will die, is tragically clear.When the five-year-old Gage is run over by a truck, it was centimeters, his father, the doctor Louis Creed, does what he has already done with his run-over cat: He buries him in the Indian cemetery. The cat came back to its way of life smelly, staggering, lazy, passive-aggressive. Gage will be back too, and he has no family peace in mind.

According to King's own story, “Pet Sematary” was a “novel in a drawer”, he carried the story around with him, found it too harsh himself, and published it only to fulfill his contract with the publisher Doubleday, which he didn't care much about would later split in a dispute over money.

What would we have missed! King threw everything he had into this story. The undead, above all Timmy Baterman, staring senselessly into the sun (he was the first person to be buried in the Indian cemetery), are far more effective than the "Classic Monster" army from "It". The best scenes have perfect timing: Little Gage's coffin falls from the pedestal after a fight among the relatives, his little arm is briefly visible under the raised cover; and the real horror, that's the punch line at the "cemetery of the cuddly toys", does not lurk in the cemetery of the cuddly toys, but in what lies behind it - the sacred area of ​​the Indians, where the Winnebago is whispering in the fog.

From the first page on, it is all about death: how do you deal with it, what do you tell the children. Can one hope for a rebirth? Louis Creed digs, digs, bleeds and suffers like few of King's heroes to get to the body of his son and initiate his resurrection. Of all people, Creed's skeptical wife Rachel, who appears more rational than anyone else, is overwhelmed by her feelings: She immediately takes her dead son, who has returned, in her arms. All doubts have been wiped away. Big mistake. She doesn't see what he's hiding behind his back. It can be read as King's cynical commentary on religion and its resurrection myths: The believers are blind with optimism and hope for eternal life.

Rachel's husband will know what to do later. The question is whether the dead and thus the past can be left to rest. But what is far more disturbing, wouldn't we all make the same decision as Louis Creed?

Stephen King - The Ranking