The first time I read The Stand I was home sick from school with some illness, the German measles I think. Maybe not a good time to be reading a book about a super flu, but I was young and not so bright.
This had to have been in 1981 or so, because that’s the year MTV debuted, back then they played music videos on Music Television and probably had about ten or so they kept playing over and over. Well, I’m on the pull out couch in the family room with MTV playing (it made me feel better to see the guys from Journey), and reading The Stand, half listening to MTV when this (very 80's)video I hadn't seen before comes on.The Stand
This was very surreal. I was feverish and the words I was reading like “The walkin’ dude” and “Trashcan Man” were coming out of the TV machine. It was very strange……as strange as The Alarms hair. Did you notice the painting of the flower he did looks just like the hair. Amazing…….I kind of like the painting.
I loved the book and it has been one my favorites list ever since. I always wanted to re-read it, but it was so darn long, and there are so many books out there to read. Thirty years later they release the audio version and I was excited, not only to revisit the book but to hear it on audio,(yay) and I was not disappointed. The Stand still remains on my favorites list. But since it had been so long since I first read it, I forgot most of it. It was like a whole new book.
The government develops a biological weapon, a super flu (project Blue) , nick named Captain Tripps, that is inadvertently released and kills 99% of the human population along with most of the dogs and horses. The cats survive (they always do). Here I have to ask the question, why would a government develop such a weapon when It kills most everybody…….even the guys on your side, and you?
The people who survive start to have crazy dreams. One is about a very old African American women, Mother Abigail, in Nebraska who calls on the people to come see her and then to travel to Boulder Colorado. The other is a nightmare about a mysterious fella named Randell Flagg, aka The Walkin’ Dude or the Dark Man who draws them to Los Vegas. Randell is not just bad; he is pure evil, while Mother Abigail is the instrument of God. The survivors pick their side, and there is a good old fashion show down between good and evil. What could go wrong?
King develops strong, memorable characters in this book. He also writes horrifyingly memorable scenes like a trip through the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, dark and stuffed to the brim with rotting corpses. That is not one of the things I forgot.
A few minor things bugged me in this version. Stephen went back later on and added pages to the book that were cut by the publishers, which I am happy with. But, in an attempt to update the book, he moved the time period up from 1980 to 1990. This made a few things awkward, such as a scene about the shootings at Kent State University. The reasons for the shooting were changed from being about war protest to protesting the detainment they were under because of the flu. This worked in the original version because it was closer in time period of the shootings at KSU. Being set in the 90’s it made no sense.
Also, King was in love with the word “pillion”, it means to ride behind the driver of a motorcycle. He used it as much as he could. He also described people’s knee joints popping when squatting, or getting up from a squat, many times. One time would have been just fine.
Love the book. Now I’m off to buy hand sanitizer.