Friday, June 28, 2013

Stephen King's Joyland

Stephen King's new novel Joyland is a perfect summer read. The setting is a small amusement park on the North Carolina beach in 1973, where a young college student--recently dumped by his girlfriend--from New England (there has to be some northeast connection with Stephen King) arrives to work for the summer, and becomes interested in a murder that took place there a few years earlier.

There are few storytellers as gifted as he is. The first half of the novel is more coming-of-age than anything else, with rich description of Joyland and its carnival employees. Devin befriends two other college students, then later a woman ten years his senior and her young son, who has muscular dystrophy. Since this is Stephen King, there are some ghosts thrown into the mix as well. Sounds ludicrous and corny? In his hands you believe it.

The novel gains pace in the second half (and for him it is short, coming in below 300 pages) as he digs into the murder and there are consequences, which lead to the final climax.

My only complaint is that there was no North Carolina in this book. Even one of the employees spoke with a Boston accent. There is nothing remotely southern about the southern setting. I think he wanted a beach, and it had to be far enough from New England to put distance between Devin and his ex-girlfriend, but keep it close enough for easy travel. So North Carolina fit the bill.


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