The Wastelands Journal 1: Cowboys and Dead People

I'm reading The Wastelands as I wait patiently (not) for Doctor Sleep to come out.  I last read this in high school.  Interesting thing, while I remember massive portions of the first two volumes of the Gunslinger, this third edition is full of stuff I've forgotten.  I remembered there was a train -- and I know later there is a guy named Tic Tock (I think) and I remembered the bear and  the restoration of Jake.  But there's so much more I've forgotten!

I'm impressed that King is able to cross genre's with real ease.  Is this a western, is it fantasy or is it Scifi?  It's all of those!

Some much needed character development takes place in the Wastelands.  Drawing of the Three was pretty action packed, and so far the Wastelands has been focused on building the people.  No doubt, the action is yet to come!  The driving action in the early book is a rather anticlimactic fight with a gigantic bear.  The question in the readers mind is not if anyone is actually going to get killed in this fight, but what in thew world  the bear is.

When it comes to characters, King builds his house of cards carefully.  Roland is tortured by two realities; one in which the boy exists, and one in which there was no boy.  Likewise, Jake struggles with the sure knowledge that he died, yet he lives on.  He is stuck reliving events, knowing what will happen next, but seemingly unable to make different decisions.

King doesn't spend much time explaining Eddie and Susannah's sudden love.  It just seems that two people  in the same proximity have  no choice -- they're going to love each other.  The scenes with the two are tender.  In particular, King continues to develop Eddie's character.  In the Drawing of the Three he was little more than a street wise junkie.  But in this novel, King quickly shows his hands, revealing a kid who is going to be a great asset to the quest.

To me the most interesting stuff actually happens in our reality.  Jake Chambers knows  something is wrong -- in fact, he knows he's dead -- and yet he continues to move through our world.  He remembers the car accident, the priest (man in black) and every detail of  the scene.  In fact, when he arrives, he knows everything that is going to happen -- except this time he does not get hit by a car.  Jake and th gunslinger are separated by worlds, but are  both experiencing a duel reality.


  1. "The question in the readers mind is not if anyone is actually going to get killed in this fight, but what in the world the bear is."

    Well, actually it isn't King's character, it's Richard Adams' Shardik plucked whole and living (or perhaps not so much) from the novel of the same name.

    Why is a character form a book by another author in King story?

    Well, that sort of answers the question of genre, as Wasteland is the book where the whole series turned into one giant Meta-fiction, or fiction about the nature of fiction (in other words, a book that examines itself).

    "To me the most interesting stuff actually happens in our reality."

    Well, don't take this the wrong way, but I've long since concluded King feels the same. It's a polite way of saying his heart was never in the Tower books like it is his mainstream stuff. Largely this is because of his nature as a writer. King is the perfect example of an American Naturalist, who's strengths and interests are in rural American settings and the lives that live there.


    1. I think the idea that King's "heart was never in the Tower books" like it is in his non-Tower books is...well, I'll be diplomatic and just say that I think that's a wrong idea.