27 July 2012

Laws, yes. I've finished Stephen King's The Stand, and M-O-O-N, that spells freakin' awesome.

So here it is. The last post for all our hard work reading with everyone for Trish's Standalong (thank you, Trish, for hosting!) through nine long weeks. All 1,100+ pages. And I believe it was definitely worth it. SPOILERS will be in this, so if you haven't read this book or watched the TV movie (which I did watch and my thoughts are at the end), I would suggest you skip this post.
  • Favorite Characters: Hands down, Tom Cullen was my absolute favorite character. That and Big Steve. Er, I mean Kojak. Good dog! And I just wish Harold had come to his epiphany much sooner. That scene with him? After Nadine and the oil slick? Oh, my goodness. I felt so bad.
  • Characters I Hated: Nadine Cross. Oh, little missy. I did not like you, you twisted woman. (But, didn't it seem a bit odd that she went through her own quest to be with Randall Flagg and then she gets there, is pregnant, and then very quickly launches herself right off the balcony?)
  • Characters I Hated That I Know I Was Supposed to Love: Sorry, I still don't like Frannie. Man, she. drove. me. NUTS. First, she won't say a word about crazy Harold and then she decides it's a super idea as the only pregnant gal in the Free Zone to go breaking into crazy Harold's house with Larry and not tell Stu? Which brings me to Larry. I... I just didn't feel the love for him that I knew I was supposed to feel. I found that he definitely grew up a little more, but I just never connected with him, sadly.
  • No Resolution on the Abagail/Abigail Typo Debate: For those who may not have noticed, Mother Abagail was spelled two ways throughout the version that I had (1,100+ page with illustrations) and I thought it was something significant, but it wasn't. It really was just a typo. But this is Stephen King! Is it really just a typo...?
  • Overall Thoughts: I finished late Tuesday night, and shut the book, speechless. I loved this journey, the quest, the ultimate stand, and I was amazed at the depth to which Stephen King's imagination can go. These characters felt real and in the Free Zone, most of them were ones that I'd want to hang out with and survive with. This is a book that I will love forever and will put up there in my own personal top 5 of favorite Stephen King books. It will also be one that I will frequently re-read. In fact, when it ended, I went right back to the first page and read the first few chapters again, picking up things that seemed much more important now that I knew what ended up happening.
  • Something that Surprised Me? I was surprised at how much positivity was placed towards religion and God. In a lot of King books, there is always a touch of the spiritual, because in order to have evil, you must have good, but I was surprised that it didn't rage on the religious fanaticism piece for the good guys in the Free Zone. I'm not a very religious person, but it always annoys me when authors jump on bandwagons and rip apart those who are religious and throw a blanket over it all and claim it's fanatical, so it was cool to see that King made it extremely positive.
  • Do I have any Mixed Feelings? Nah. I loved the book overall. I guess the only thing I wanted was closure on just a few minor things at the end. I needed silly resolution with two of my favorite characters, Tom Cullen and Kojak. I mean, after everything Stu went through at the end with Tom Cullen and Kojak, why, oh why, couldn't there have been closure for those two when they returned back to Boulder? I assume Tom moved back into his house, of course, but what about Kojak? Did he live with Stu, did he live with Tom? Silly little details like that are something I need to feel closure about!
Yes. I watched the 1994 TV version in the evenings this week, finishing it up late last night. Here are a few thoughts:
  • What's With the Cheese? I was in college in the early 1990s and I recall excellent movies back then, including TV movies. Why was The Stand sort of cheesily produced? I mean, don't get me wrong, it follows the book pretty closely, but the acting was mostly poor and melodramatic (sadly, I'm looking at you, Molly Ringwald and Corin Nemec), with the exception of a few fantastic actors who are just awesome anyway (Ruby Dee as Mother Abagail and Ray Walston as Glen Bateman), but overall, it was just...cheesy.
Corin Nemec as Harold Lauder
Stu and Frannie
  • Music is Key, but... The theme music with the guitar was cool and it made this post-Captain Trips world feel very sparse and desolate, but the rest of it was just layered into the film unnecessarily.
  • Anything Strikingly Different between the Book and Movie? Other than all the cheese and melodrama, what I loved about the book was that the people over in Randall Flagg's camp were people who were led astray. That means that a lot of them were seriously twisted people, but a lot of them were also extremely good people at their core but who were weak and the alternative of being with Flagg was much more appealing than being with Mother Abagail. The former police detective, who meets up with the four from the Free Zone, Dorgan, was a good guy who happened to have chosen poorly. I felt for him in the book, felt sad for his weaknesses, but in the TV movie, Dorgan and everyone in Flagg's group were just a bunch of wild things that lived off chaos and reminded me a lot of the characters from the movie Escape from New York. I half-expected someone to start clinking beer bottles together and repeating "Warriors...come out and plaaaaahaaaayyyyy..." I wish Stephen King, who wrote the screenplay, stuck with the elements in his book that made it so phenomenal.
  • All in All? It certainly is a nice chapter in the overall King book-to-film adaptation legacy, but I still feel that it didn't capture it well. As with a lot of King books that are turned into films, there is a lot more ham acting and outdated camera angles (look, it may have been filmed almost twenty years ago, but movies back in the early 1990s were not all like this, for cryin' out loud).
  • In the end, though, I'm looking at you, Mr. Affleck, to remake The Stand the way it should be. I am trusting you, good sir. Don't let us down!
Image Credit
EXTRA! BeyondHollywood.com has a great snapshot of insight from Stephen King about his thoughts on the TV movie and the upcoming remake. It's pretty funny.

Click here to read other Standalong participants' thoughts. I took part in this for my own project, The Stephen King Project, which I am hosting with Kathleen from Boarding In My Forties.


  1. I was not a fan of Frannie either. I didn't hate her, but I never cared as much about her as I was suppose to. I loved Tom and Kojak though, laws yes! I was surprised by the positive spin on religion too. I thought it gave an interesting weight to some of the characters' struggles. I haven't watched the miniseries yet, I was worried it would be awful. Maybe I'll check it out and keep my expectations low!

  2. Ugh. Frannie. What a whining little... ;) I think that most of us can probably agree on that part. This is a great post Natalie and I'm so glad you loved it as much as you did. In the end I do wish that it was a little shorter but only because I really struggled to find the time to actually get the reading in. It would have been nice to just pull out the big book and read for a few hours here and there and I think it would have made all the difference.

    I'm assuming Kojak stayed with Tom but only because Stu didn't mention when they were at Mother Abby's at the end? Only mention I remember was the MayDay celebration and it sound liked Tom was truly happy. Laws yes. I do agree about the Harold bit at the end. I know that he was a scumbag but I always felt sorry for him--he got dealt a really crappy hand and think that things COULD have turned out differently for him. Not like Nadine who seemed destined for the life she had.

    I haven't watched the mini-series and don't know if I will. Honestly I can't picture Gary Sinise as Stu. Too many bad guy roles...

    Thanks for Standing Along!

  3. So, so cool that you finished the book, and got the chance to watch the movie! I also watched parts of the movie, and it seemed cheesy to me too, which is why I never read the book. I need to rectify that situation right away, it seems! Great job with this readalong!

  4. Great post! I had many of the same thoughts. The Abigail typos drove me freakin' crazy, and I could've cared less about Frannie by the end (and even lesser after watching Molly Ringwald bring her to horrific life). I wanted more Tom. And Joe!

  5. When I first read The Stand, at age 14/15, I loved Frannie. She was my book girlfriend. With each reading since, I have grown to dislike her more and more. When I listened to the audio version, it was the final push. So many things could have been different if she would have just opened her mouth. I don't blame her for Harold, but I do think she could have at least minimized his recklessness.

    My favorite character has always been Glenn Bateman. So many of my favorite quotes in the book come from him. I love Tom, and Nick, and feel Ralph was totally underutilized in the book. I actually liked Stu more after seeing Gary Sinise play him in the miniseries.

  6. I'm only a little more than halfway through so I just skimmed the first part...I had no idea there was a movie!! Can't wait to finish and then come back and read everybody's posts.

  7. I was a bad participant, but i did read the book and was glad about that. Glad to read all of your thoughts/

  8. I have about 30 pages left so my final post will be up later this week. I forgot Ringwald was in that one. I'm assuming she nailed a whiney Fran? I'm glad you enjoyed it and I also plan on re-watching the TV movie, because I remember enjoying that. Curious about Affleck too. I like his work so i have high hopes.

  9. Frannie didn't bother me too much and I'm very glad I was able to break the Molly Ringwald image that wanted to force itself into my listening adventure. Loved this book and your thoughts here are great!

  10. I had to share the dirt about Affleck's take on this -- my wife and our best friend looooooooooooooooove King with an unholy passion -- and The Stand is one favorite.

  11. LOL-I found the Abagail/Abigail typo too. I knew I could have driven myself nuts with it, so I finally just let it go. Was it in Frannie's journal that it was Abigail? Maybe that was just how Frannie assumed it would be spelled?

    I just went back and reread the Nadine part earlier tonight because I couldn't remember exactly why Flagg decided to throw her off the roof. Flagg's focus on getting her to him was so strong that I don't think she had a choice but to fight to get to him. Every once in a while, she caught a glimpse of free will, but overall, I think Flagg kept a pretty tight reign on her until she made it to him. Once he had her, she finally saw the true horror of what he was, and he was able to let his focus wander a little, plus he was starting to lose it a little at this point. She must have realized that the only way out was death, and she knew that it was going to have to be at Flagg's hand. There's no way he would have let her harm herself or his child, and once she started telling him the truth about what was going on, that the four were on their way and that his followers were losing faith, he was so enraged that he threw her off the balcony. I read this as a little version of "and the truth will set you free."

  12. My favorite characters were Stu and Nick Andros. Love your review!