In the words of Jon Bon Jovi, “Once more, with feeling...”
Stephen King took a genre of fiction that had been ridiculed, shamed, and ignored for more than two centuries and almost single-handedly made it acceptable once again. Yes, he had some help. Ramsey Campbell, Dean Koontz, Robert R. McCammon, even Clive Barker. But credit where credit is due, without Carrie, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Shining, et. al. we’d all be reading Tom Wolfe rip-offs and pretending we enjoyed them.
The Outsider isn’t 100% perfect. It bogs down a bit around page 345 and stays there for maybe a dozen pages. The revelation of the “thing” is a little bit reminiscent of other King novels, especially the setting in which it’s revealed. The usage of previous novels to set the tone and some of the characterizations might piss some people off who haven’t read those previous novels.
But please... in the grand scheme of this almost perfect novel, if this stuff bothers you, you’re just looking for something to be bothered by.
This book is nothing short of a master story-teller at the peak of his powers. The dialogue...the freaking dialogue...is a master course in “Writing The Novel.” The story is fascinating, in-depth, complex, convoluted, and yet, in the end, as straight as an arrow through a bright, red bullseye.
It took me a week to read this book. I read the first half in two nights, but the writing is so good, so quintessential, so impeccable (I’m out of adjectives) that I slowed my reading down just to drink it in. It was that good.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. A grown man should not “fanboy” anything or anybody.
Stephen King makes that tough.