Read with me!

I love Stephen King’s work. I cut my apocalyptic teeth on The Stand, and It scared the crap out of me. But somehow, I never read the seven-volume Dark Tower series, widely considered King’s crowning masterpiece. How did that happen?

So…want to read it with me?

Beginning in May (I’ll give you the start date when I have it),  I will be “publicly” reading the entire seven-volume series of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. We’re going to read 1-2 chapters a week. It will take at least a year.

So, here’s how it will work. Each week, I will read a chapter or two and post a recap on Tor.com along with my inane ramblings, wonderings, and comments–which will give me a tremendous opportunity to humiliate myself before the legions of Stephen King fans who HAVE read The Dark Tower series. So I’ll need some non-humiliating friendly faces–I hope you’ll join me and read along. We’ll start with the first one, The Gunslinger, which only has five chapters so I’ll be doing one chapter a week.

I’m not reading ahead, which would be cheating, so I’ll be responding to things in “real time” without any knowledge of what’s going to happen.

In the meantime, any other Stephen King fans out there? Have you read The Dark Tower series? Want to join the fun?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban and paranormal fantasy and romantic suspense, currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, and Belle Chasse (Nov 2016). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the upcoming Wilds of the Bayou series (Book 1, Wild Man's Curse) releases April 2016).

11 thoughts on “Read with me!

  1. Sign me up. I have been wanting to read these books for a long time. Just could not get started. What a project. Will read along with you.

    Roger

  2. I read The Gunslinger when it first came out. Wasn’t his best book, but when the 2nd came out (my favorite, by the way), I had to re-read the first. Then years went by before #3 came out, and I had to re-read #1 & #2. Again, years went by before #4 came out. Do you see where this is going?

    And now I find he’s written #4.5. I may end up re-reading the series when it comes out, but not really sure (that’s not to say I don’t enjoy the books – because I do).

    So I’ll pass on this project, but may see what you say about the series.

  3. @Roger: Awesome! I will post when the series actually starts but it will likely be in early May.

    @Stacy–LOL. Yes, I see a pattern there. SK took something like 30 years to get all seven volumes out? The new one, which he says fills in a plot hole between books four and five, should be out sometime in 2012. Hope we’ve made it through the other seven by then!

  4. I may have to jump in and do this wich ya’ll. I started to read it a few years ago, my husband is a big SK reader, but then kind of lost track…but maybe I’ll get these on audio and work through them that way!

  5. This looks interesting. As you know I’ve been going through the exercise of re-reading Lord of the Rings as if were submitted in a workshop. One of the interesting things I discovered is that Tolkien, while a gifted writer, was not as skilled as he might have been at the outset. He has clear difficulties with handing things like POV and plot. He grew quite a bit as a writer over the years it took him to finish the book.

    Likewise I recently read Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” — another case of clear, but immature genius.

    King, unlike Tolkien, did a lot of writing before he got his first novel published, and the Dark Tower was his fourteenth published novel. Still, it would be interesting to see how he develops as he works on an extended series. I’ll have to see if I have time to take part in this.

  6. Hope you’ll do it, Matt! Interesting observation about Tolkien–I haven’t read LOTR since I began writing fiction, and I imagine it would change the experience somewhat. And I agree about Gaiman.

    I read that Stephen King began the first book of the DT series when he was 19 so that, in 2003, when the series was reissued, he went back in and rewrote chunks of it. He has a long foreword about being 19 and starting this story, and why he changed things. The story, over the course of 20-plus years of writing, had shifted a bit and he found he had holes he needed to plug). Makes one wonder, had he been given the leisure to do so, if Tolkien would have made any changes in LOTR.

  7. @Becky: I know! Once I get interested in a book, I pretty much consume it. So doing one or two chapters a week without plowing ahead is going to be hard!

  8. Oh, Tolkien did rewrite LotR, again and again and again, until it was published. It’s clear from the bits Christopher Tolkien has published since his death, that Prof. Tolkien didn’t just draft a scene then clean it up on a revision pass; he repeatedly rewrote scenes in entirely different ways and to fit into entirely different conceptions of the overall story.

    Tolkien was the kind of writer who did not let go of a manuscript until it was ripped from his hands or he dropped from exhaustion. That’s why LotR is such a curious mixture of messy and highly polished writing. It took him ten years to produce his monumental first draft, and two years to complete the revision of the early parts of the story his publishers demanded. He mustn’t have brought much enthusiasm to the task, because the early parts of the story are still disorganized and full of inconsistencies in tone and defects of craft that no doubt turned off many critical readers.

    Others have had problems with massive, metaphysical story arcs. Two notable examples are C.S. Lewis with his Narnia series and E.E. Doc Smith with his Lensman series. Both chose, after capping their ambitious series, to tie up loose ends with a prequel (The Magician’s Nephew and Triplanetary). Both prequels are examples of the highest level of craft of each writer, but Lewis was far more successful in integrating the prequel into the series. Triplanetary, while arguably the best novel in the series, ought to be read last because it spoils one of the greatest thrills of the series: Smith’s ever increasing conception of the story’s scope.

  9. This is my all time fave series, ever. I’ve read them a couple of times, but always get stuck on book 4 because I hate it. I really should just skip it, pretend it’s not even part of the series. Lol.

    I had no idea he was writing another one to fill the gap between 4 and 5. I want it now!