My rating: 4 of 5 stars
On the one hand it is a bit crime novel with just enough supernatural elements to sign King’s name to it. Primarily, it is what S.K. has always done best in my estimation. It is nostalgia. It is a shot of youth with a chaser of regret. The bitter taste of regret doesn’t ruin the sweet of looking back on that one big summer when we put away childish things. It is bittersweet but mostly sweet. If ‘The Body’ was King’s remembrance of adolescence then ‘Joyland‘ was his sweet coming of age for the next chapter and the transition from adolescence to being a young adult.
My two favorite quotes from the book are these:
“When you’re twenty-one, life is a roadmap. It’s only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect that you’ve been looking at the map upside down, and not until you’re forty are you entirely sure. By the time you’re sixty, take it from me, you’re fucking lost.”
As a man approaching forty, I still feel most days like the boys in ‘The Body’ and sometimes on good days like Dev in ‘Joyland’ having his last summer. Now, I am entering into Autumn…or it feels like it when I am slathering on the Ben Gay and getting my park buttoned down for winter. I may have another twenty years before I realize how lost I really am but I am pretty sure that I was holding the map upside down the whole damn time.
” When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.”
Wistful remembrances and nostalgia are the thing that I think King does even better than horror and cheap scares. He knows we are all rubes on the ride of life. We may learn ‘the talk’ one summer when we are young and we forget most of it…but still as we move on, there is a part of us that is always ‘carny’ and we carry that part with us to the grave and beyond maybe if there is such a thing…and I am really NOT so sure. There are no second acts but it is best not to think too much about that while we are in the midst of our first.
One last quote and comment,
“The last good time always comes, and when you see the darkness creeping toward you, you hold on to what was bright and good. You hold on for dear life.”
King isn’t as young as he once was and neither is this reader. ‘Joyland’ has the cover of a pulpy crime novel but the wise man said not to judge a book thus. It isn’t a spook book either. There is never any doubt that the protagonist survived his summer at ‘Joyland’ and lived on with a few scars to show. Maybe it is just me (I know it isn’t…) but as the date creeps on and the calendar pages fly by and we are left wondering how long until our last good times come, we hold to what is bright and good. To me sometimes that is a yellowed paperback tucked in your pocket as you watch the leaves rustle in October and think back on the summer that just passed (and all of those summers) and…remember.
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