Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Song of Susannah

Time for another brief diversion into the realms of fantasy, mainly because I want to make a note of something that struck me in this book.

If you're still working your way through the Dark Tower sequence, you may wish to skip this post for fear of spoilers. If you've finished it, don't spoil Volume 7 for me, please!

Back in Wolves of the Calla, we come across Father Callahan, formerly of 'Salem's Lot, who discovers himself to be a fictional character, at least in one parallel universe.

In this book, this idea is carried on to the next level. This kind of self-referential writing could easily have gone either way. In the hands of a lesser writer, or one with a lesser (or less well known) body of work to refer to, it almost certainly would have been the most agonising bit of reading imaginable. If anyone can pull it off, however, it's Stephen King.

And so it is that he has his hero, Roland of Gilead, and his fellow gunslinger Eddie Dean, turn up on his own doorstep. At this point there own suspicions are confirmed - that they too are figments of King's imagination - while King believes himself to be on the edge of a breakdown. This section of the book could be read as an insight into the creative process, or a warning about the perils of alcohol abuse, but the angle that I want to mention here is the meeting of creator and creation.

To all intents and purposes, Eddie and Roland are standing face to face with their creator. You might say, with their god. Roland might say with Gan.

We are back to the idea I mentioned in my last post, that of being forced to confront God as more than just an idea. But in the exchange between King and his creations, we meet a very unwilling god. A god in denial, almost. I don't know what to do with it, but this idea of a reluctant god struck me as interesting, something that may be worth hanging on to for future use. Of course, I'll have to see what Stephen King does with it in The Dark Tower first - I don't think I'll get away with plagiarising him, however inadvertantly!

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