The Cannibals -- An Incomplete Review

Well, of course any review will be incomplete -- King didn't finish the book! And, what he released was only 61 pages.

A few quick notes.

A big thanks to Stpehen King for releasing this. He stated that he did it for two reasons:

First to wet out appitites for his upcoming novel Under The Dome. That he has successfully done!

Second, he said that he wants to show fans that he was not stealing any ideas from the Simpsons. In fact, he said he's not seen the Simpsons movie. Sigh. Is King losing touch with culture? Of course, the real question on this is: Why did King have to read from fans that the root idea of his plot sounds something like the Simpson movie? Shouldn't someone at Simon and Schuster have caught that one?

I really enjoyed the download a lot. The pages are marked with corrections throughout and look well aged. Not like this came off the press of a slick publisher -- more like King himself pressed this into your hand after a short meeting. "Hey, take a look at this and tell me what you think," he says. Okay, that's not what happened... but that's how the 61 pages will make you feel -- a little closer to the artist.

The date:

King wrote Cannibals in about 1981 ? while filming Creepshow. The manuscript was a quick flashback to the early eighties. That feeling of, "I remember this world!" washed over me at once. A few 80's hallmarks:
1. Cassette tape-players
2. X rated movie theaters (drive in's, no less)
3. Video game arcades
4. Roller rinks
5. Living in the aftermath of Vietnam
6. "the wake of the turbulent sixties" p.5
7. Resisting the draft
8. Listening to Bob Dylan Records
9. Anticipating a "decade of self." p.6 (Try three decades of self!)

About the story:

The story is about an apartment complex that gets cut off from the world. All the details are not evident from the portion King has given us. How do they get power? Do they have water? Elevators work. But no one can get out a door. As if a force on the otherside, as solid as a brick wall, were present.

The apartment building:

1. It's not a close net community. It's people living separate lives. People who don't really know one another.
2. It's next to a mall, but still near the woods.
3. You can work, shop and sleep without ever going too far outside.
4. The apartment is not a slum.
5. The apartments are visited by the "Full Moon Scribe" (a tagger).
6. The apartments have a serious security system; both for inner doors and mail.
7. There is no locks on the outer doors.

Characters (and religious oddities):

Main character is Tommy Hill the news man. A kind-of "everyman." There's the apartment manager, the kid Tommy runs into, and the religious lady, Jo.

Now Jo Page is only introduced once the problem is well underway. The reader is really interested in what is going on, and King decides to introduce someone new! (He also gave a couple of pages worth of flashback at a similiar moment). But the new lady, Jo, is worth looking at.

She is a very religious woman. She reads the Bible and begins to fixate upon Christ death and his words on the cross "why have you forsaken me?" This throws her into something of a trance.

As she ponders Jesus' words, King writes, "It came to her suddenly that perhaps that had been the moment of transfer. . . the moment when Christ had taken it all upon himself, every sin committed by mankind on the face of the earth since the apple. All that dirt and blood at once, suddenly taken from the world and filling Hm like a black poison." p.51

Pretty sound theology.

Jo falls into a trance, fixated on the death of Christ. And then King goes to some lengths to explain how she isn't a zealot. "Her religion was a private matter; she fored it on no one and was revolted by those who did. In some of these she recognized an innocent joy which she could at least sympathize with if she could not respet. In most she saw only a kind o filthy sel-aggrandizement, the final mirror-trick by which the Prince of the World tried to turn God himself into an illusion. Bucause the Bible demanded that the followers o Christ should witness, she did so -- wasn't that why she was in the jam she was in at work? -- but she did so only when asked, or when circumstances demanded it." p.53

Okay, here's the thing: Religious people who read the Bible and fall into trances are not the normal type. Trances are usually left to the holy rollers who do it in public, or those who are a little off -- let's say, Carrie's mom. I"m sure some religous people fall into a trance -- but it's not the norm by any stretch of the imagination.

I think that what King is trying to do is create a likeable -- but serious -- religious character. One with sound theology, but who isn't pushy, judgmental and a Jerk for Jesus. It does beg the question: Does Mr. King think that religious people get up and meditate on the crucifixion until they slip into a dreamy daze of worship? Not most. Some. . .

So is Jo one of our Cannibals? That would be interesting.

The Terror:

The mystery revovles mostly around doors not opening. I'm sure this is explained much uller in the rest of the text. I only caught one reference to what was happening outside. "Daylight was starting to come out there, but Pulaski could not remember ever having seen a daylight quite like this one -- thin, watery, almost wavery. For a moment he was struk by unreality, by a sence that somehow his eyes were deceiving him. . ." p.42 Then we drop into a flashback.

King cut off on a pretty good line: "for the first time he felt something pierce his confusion and harried annoyance at being late. He found nothing welcome about the new emotion. It was fear." p.61 hehe -- that's good!

What's brutal is what a good read this is. There's a lot o energy to it. Just straight story! King explains the apartment, moves to his chracter, speeds through a normal morning, and then slams the whole story into a great problem. No one can get out. I assume by the title that they won't be going to Vons anytime soon. Who gets eaten? Who does the eating? Gosh, my appitite is indeed wetted, Mr. King!

Similarities to Under The Dome

I haven't read Under The Dome, but from the reviews the only thing the two have in common is the idea of a force field locking a group of people in.

This story had a lot of energy taking off. I can see why King got a good 500 pages out of it. I throughly enjoyed it all.

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