The Stand

The StandThe Stand by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an incredible achievement! I can see why THE STAND is a favorite for many Stephen King fans. As with his other lengthy masterpiece IT, the strength here is in the characters as much as anything else. There are many, many characters in THE STAND, some more memorable than others, but all of them interesting. I think the two I was most fascinated by were Harold Lauder and Nadine Cross. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who might not have read THE STAND yet, but these two characters have such memorably tragic arcs, half due to their own bad decisions and half due to simple, ugly destiny, that they really stuck out for me. Of course, I loved Stu and Glen and Frannie, too! (My feelings about Larry Underwood are more complicated, although he certainly proved himself to be a better person by the end.)

I even had some sympathy for poor old Trashcan Man, and that’s something that speaks to the strength of King’s abilities as a writer. He populates Randall Flagg’s Las Vegas not just with madmen and criminals, as you might imagine a stronghold of evil to be, but with lots of characters who are worthy of sympathy, even more than Trashcan Man is. King seems to be saying that even decent people can make the wrong choice or be caught up in the grinding wheels of fate. If there’s one sin the denizens of Las Vegas might share, however, it’s cowardice, as even those who have a moral compass and know Flagg is a monster are too scared to do anything about it, and so they blindly follow his orders, swallowing their consciences one bit at a time.

As riveted as I was by the novel in general, a section in the middle dragged for me, the part when Stu and the others are setting up committees and a rudimentary governmental system for the Free Zone. But even that has an important role to play later, and one could say THE STAND is really far more about the journey than the destination.

The edition I read was the original Signet paperback from 1980, so old and well-loved that its cover is held together with Scotch tape at this point, but I loved the novel enough that I think someday I might check out the “complete and uncut” edition that came out in 1990. I certainly wouldn’t mind spending time with these characters again.

View all my reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



News & Updates

  • 09/22/2020 — Anais Nin at the Grand GuignolAnaïs Nin at the Grand Guignol by Robert Levy My rating: 5 of 5 stars Dark, sexy, and written in a suitably decadent prose style, Robert Levy’s supernatural take on historical figures Anais Nin, Henry Miller, June Miller, and real-life star of the Grand Guignol Paula Maxa will leave you breathless.…Read more »
  • 09/17/2020 — Harrow County, Vol. 2: Twice ToldHarrow County, Vol. 2: Twice Told by Cullen Bunn My rating: 5 of 5 stars Emmy’s long-lost twin sister Kammi visits Harrow County to meet her sister and claim her power, setting off a dark chain of events that turns the haints against Emmy.…Read more »
  • 09/09/2020 — Underworld DreamsUnderworld Dreams by Daniel Braum My rating: 5 of 5 stars This is Daniel Braum’s best collection yet, filled with stories that exhibit a masterful sense of ambiguity and explore the tension between the personal and the profound.…Read more »
  • 08/28/2020 — Harrow County, Vol. 1: Countless HaintsHarrow County, Vol. 1: Countless Haints by Cullen Bunn My rating: 5 of 5 stars A fun, fast-moving setup to what I expect will be a highly enjoyable series, COUNTLESS HAINTS combines writer Cullen Bunn’s masterful use of atmosphere and setting with artist Tyler Crook’s vibrant watercolor illustrations to create something truly compelling.…Read more »
  • 08/26/2020 — Survivor SongSurvivor Song by Paul Tremblay My rating: 5 of 5 stars Paul Tremblay steps away from the ambiguous, maybe-supernatural horror novels he’s been writing over the past few years to present a realistic tale of survival amid a scientifically-based epidemic.…Read more »