Nevada is mostly a long stretch of desert you cross on the way to somewhere else. And with someone else, if you're lucky...because it's a scary place. Headed down Route 50 in the brutal summer heat are people who are never going to reach their destinations. Like the Jacksons, a professor and his wife going home to New York City; the Carvers, a Wentworth, Ohio, family bound for a vacation at Lake Tahoe; and aging literary lion Johnny Marinville, inventing a gonzo image for himself astride a 700-pound Harley.
A dead cat nailed to a road sign heralds the little mining town of Desperation, a town that seems withered in the shade of a man-made mountain known as the China Pit. But it's worse than that, much worse. Regulating the traffic there is Collie Entragian, an outsize uniformed madman who considers himself the only law west of the Pecos. God forbid you should be missing a license plate or find yourself with a flat tire.
There's something very wrong here, all right, and Entragian is only the surface of it. The secrets embedded in Desperation's landscape, and the evil that infects the town like some viral hot zone, are both awesome and terrifying. But as young David Carver seems to know - though it scares him nearly to death to realize it - so are the forces summoned to combat them.
About the Author
Few authors have tapped into our secret fears as adeptly as Stephen King, Master of the Macabre and one of the most widely read novelists writing today. With his trademark blend of fantasy, horror, and psychological suspense, this prolific and immensely popular contemporary writer continues to remind us that evil is still a potent force in the world.
King is at the top of his game.
If the publishing industry named a Person of the Year, this year's winner would be Stephen King. Not only is he writing the first modern novel to be serialized in book form (The Green Mile), but with the publication on Sept. 24 of The Regulators (Dutton; Forecasts, June 17) and Desperation, he becomes the first bestselling authormaybe the first author everto issue three new major novels in one calendar year. And there's more. With this astonishing work, King again proves himself the premier literary barometer of our cultural clime. For if The Regulators is a work of secular horror, this is a novel of sacred horror (King's first), and explicitly so. Like the second panel of a diptych, Desperation employs, with one major exception, the same characters as The Regulators, and the same source of horror: an evil force named Tak. (The novels aren't sequential, however; people who die in one can live, then die, in the other.) The exception is David Carver, 11, who, with a handful of other passers-through, including a major writer who's recently embraced sobriety, is trapped in the desert mining town of Desperation, Nev. There, Tak stalks them by possessing humans and turning them into homicidal maniacs, and by unleashing armies of coyotes, spiders and scorpions. The terror is relentlessthis is King's scariest book since Miserythough the storytelling is looser than in The Regulators to allow room for spiritual themes. For united against Tak are not only David and his pals, but also God, who moves through the boy. King's God is the God of Job, implacable, beyond human ken. As the savageries inflicted upon David and others multiply, they must discern: What is God's will? And, how can God's will be done, when it seems so cruel? Near the story's end, the writer muses that horror "isn't the sort of stuff of which serious literature is made." King knows better, and so will anyone who reads this deeply moving and enthralling masterpiece of the genre. 1,750,000 first printing; BOMC main selection; simultaneous Penguin Audiobook. (Sept.)
From the vault of horror master King comes a terrifying tale of Desperation, Nev., a place ruled by a maniacal man in uniform and haunted by deadly secrets. In true King fashion, the story features a small cast of likable yet deeply flawed protagonists that may or may not make it to the final page in one piece. Narrator Kathy Bates, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the film adaptation of King's Misery, takes the reins and holds listeners rapt from start to finish. Bates has the inherent ability to make anything, no matter how over the top, sound realistic and immediate. A Signet paperback. (Feb.)
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"Classic Stephen King," reports the publicist, nicely wrapped in a 1.75 million-copy first printing. Here, a sheriff in the far reaches of Nevada kidnaps travelers along his stretch of highway.
King's third new yarn this year is as pell-mell an action thriller as any he has written and one of his sweetest performances. It has several links to his new Richard Bachman opus, The Regulators; for instance, it has some characters with the same names and occupations, though not personalities, and the same vaporous alien antagonist at the bottom of the same mine. The alien force is loose in Desperation, Nevada, and, having occupied the bodies of a succession of citizens (it needs to pass from one human vehicle to another because its vigor is so intense that its host hemorrhages to death within hours), has gruesomely slaughtered everyone else in town. Now in the body of a patrolling cop, it is picking up people motoring by on U.S. 50. Foremost among those are burned-out novelist Johnny Marinville and 11-year-old David Carver, who barely a year ago underwent a serious religious conversion and occasionally hears the voice of God. It is God--the God of the Christian Bible, both Testaments--Who eventually saves Johnny, David, and the rest of those who survive Desperation, but saves them only by means of their own free will and their own heroic and gory exertions. If King wants to show how to inject religion honestly and effectively into the normally crass horror genre, he succeeds beautifully.
Washington Post Book World
Desperation builds to a climax reminiscent of The Stand.
San Francisco Chronicle
A double dose of ghostly horror. Desperation is pure King, a rollicking good tale skillfully told of repugnance and godliness doing high-screech battle.
An astounding fall season for King unfolds with three new novels: the wind-up of his Signet paperback serial The Green Mile, and same-day dual publication of Desperation from Viking and The Regulators from Dutton (as Richard Bachman—see above). Desperation, while mystifying if read after The Regulators, is fabulous storytelling that avoids the slovenly glee that corrodes the grand fantasy of its mirror novel.
The twin rulers of the dual novels are God the Cruel (Desperation), who speaks only to David Carver, a very well-spoken 11-year-old, and the Great God Television (The Regulators), a rotten god made visible through the mind of an autistic six-year-old, Seth Garon. The two books share characters but offer distinctly different spins on their personalities: The heroine of The Regulators is a big threat in Desperation. Also on hand in both are the evil entity Tak and the heroic but burnt-out novelist John Marinville, a recovering alcoholic. While speeding through empty Nevada spaces, Peter and Mary Jackson are stopped and arrested by a gigantic cop from nearby Desperation, a small mining town. At the jailhouse, the nutty robotic giant shoots Peter dead. Then the giant arrests Marinville, who is trying to recover his reputation by crossing the country on his motorcycle and writing a Steinbeckian Travels with Harley. The cop's body, we find, houses Tak, who constantly needs new bodies to live in because his superhuman heart batters them to pieces. He has already murdered the whole town and is now planning to house himself in the still-alive Audrey Wyler, a mining specialist who has been investigating the nearby China Shaft where "the unformed heart" of Tak bubbles evilly. Then into town rides Steve, whose heart is pure, in a Ryder truck . . . .
Knockout classic horror: King's most carefully crafted, well-groomed pages ever.
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 547
Published: 1st August 1997
Dimensions (cm): 17.424 x 10.719 x 3.861
Weight (kg): 0.286