Let Me Put My Suggestions In You: The Gunslinger/Dark Tower
Oh how I’ve missed you, my sweet little suggestions. Welcome back my heathens to another installment of me telling you what to do. I honestly haven’t done a suggestions post in a while, and it feels good to be back. I’ve been somewhat stuck on quite a few different things recently, and it’s been difficult to get into the swing of constant entertainment and reading that I am so used to, but I have been making time for something that our good friends in Fiction for Bandits have brought me back into. I started reading the Dark Tower series a couple years ago, but stopped right after the first novel, The Gunslinger. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not because it was bad, it was just because of circumstance, as I was deep into so many things at that point (perverts, don’t even think about it) that it just slipped by me, but now has been permeating my entire daily existence. Why , you ask? I’ll tell you….because it’s fucking awesome. Seriously.
I have always had a somewhat strange affliction with Stephen King. I was always told how brilliant of a writer he was, and how his stories are purely amazing and dark, which is what I am almost always drawn to, but I could never bring myself to pick up one of his books. For the life of me, there was just something about him that just creeped me out so bad. The movies as I was a kid would scare the shit out of me, but enamor me in a way that made me keep coming back. I didn’t really find my love of reading and my love of reading horror rather than watching it until after high school, and by that point, a lot of my prime reading time had passed me by. Luckily, I got into the swing of things almost immediately after high school, and got into some decent stories and works of fiction. It still took me a bit of time before reading anything by King, except a stint at a birthday party where I found a copy of The Stand and read it quietly in the corner of the community center the party was in ( I was that kid, believe it or not). Then, like previously stated, a couple years ago I picked up The Gunslinger on the recommendation of one of my buddies, Mr Twice, and since that day, the Tower has affected and haunted me. That bastard Roland. I can never hope to be that cool.
I read the first book, and like I said, things got in the way after I finished it and I was unable to get into the second one until just last week. During the filming of something special we have planned for you guys, the topic of The Gunslinger came up while speaking with Fiction for Bandits, as that is the theme for their latest album. I was sitting leisurely, listening to them play, and then my brain went black. As I sat in the chair, waiting for panic to set in as I lost my vision, a blinding white light hit the inside of my eyelids. I was blinded I thought. Going back and forth from black to blinding white, my brain was on fire with panic. I didn’t know what was going on. As I tried to keep myself from falling to the floor in a writhing mass of frailty and fear, a voice rang out through the panic. “It is waiting for you,” the voice said. I didn’t recognize it, but just the tone and way that the voice spoke sounded familiar. Not the sort of familiar that you have heard this voice before, but more that you have read it. “The Tower….you must claim it,” the voice again rang out. At this point, I did not know what to say back. Should I answer back? “Trust me,” it said. Then….sudden clarity. This is the way Roland spoke in my mind when I was reading The Gunslinger. This was the way my brain made him sound when his lines were written. This was the man who traveled so far and went through so many horrible things in his journey. He was in my head. He was in my thoughts. Beckoning and calling, needing me to continue forward to sights and words unknown. What should I do? What should I do? Do I run? Do I shut it out completely? No…..I couldn’t . Roland wouldn’t….Roland couldn’t. He had to keep going forward, and I needed to keep going forward. So I did what I knew was the right choice…..I finished the show, and immediately went home after to grab my copy of the second book in the Dark Tower series, The Drawing of the Three. I opened the cover, turned to the first page, and stepped back through the paper doors to the desert of Roland’s nightmares. Back into the world that didn’t make sense, back into the world that made men hard as steel and nightmares as real as the sweat from your brow. Back into the world of The Gunslinger.
The Gunslinger was just such a serious example of what simplicity and deep themes can produce. I say simplicity because the world Roland is from, is very simple. Either you shoot, or you die. It’s as simple as that. Things will kill you, and other things will break you. Not just physically, but mentally. Everything has a breaking point and this world is made specifically to find Roland’s. The thing is though, Roland isn’t some puppy dog lost in the wild and begging to go home. Roland is hard as fuck, and he would not put it past himself to do anything to achieve his goal of reaching the all-consuming Dark Tower. He needs to go there, and the trek is not something to be taken lightly. It just isn’t. It’s the end all be all of his life at this point. He makes it through terrible situations in his pursuit of the Man in Black (not me, I promise) and the Tower. They are linked, and he needs to know why. I tore through the first volume when I picked it up, and just couldn’t understand how awesome Roland really was as a character until everything was said and done. He literally is the guy you would want in any sort of tough situation. He makes the calls, and he speaks with such calm ferocity that is it borderline crazy. With everything thrown at him, you would expect him to curl up into a ball in the sand and just let the world bury him in the past. But he can’t do that, and he won’t do that. It makes him so much better of a man than I am. I guess better is a strong word, shall we say tougher? Yes, tougher. Upon finishing this book, I had to sit back in disbelief at what just happened. You thought the story would include something along the lines of what transpires at the end of The Gunslinger, but you didn’t want it to happen. When it finally does, you are thunderstruck, but at the same time sympathetic because it was so very hard to do. I won’t even say what it was, but you will know when you get there. I was saddened, yet bolstered at the same time, because you do not fuck with Roland, and I wanted to see what he did next.
The Drawing of the Three picks up right where The Gunslinger left off, and we are treated to a nice calming shot of Roland at the beach…..and by beach I mean a swarming mass of water that brings with it something so foul and scary that even though it could be a lot worse, it doesn’t feel like it could be. It makes me hate seafood that much more than I already do. We also meet one of my favorite characters in the series so far, Mr Eddie Dean. I still have yet to finish this volume but trust me, I am plugging away at it as much as I possibly can. I am about half way through this, and it just keeps getting so much better. If I could equate this to another series or part in a series, I would say this is the volume where the main character is forced to do things that he doesn’t necessarily want to do, but it is for the best of all involved. He must meet certain people, and they will help him do what needs to be done. The best part about all of this is that even though these characters really have no idea what they are facing, Roland continually reminds them that this is beyond any of them, and that the promise of adventure, quests, and making yourself a better person is the reward for all of the hardships they will face. I FUCKING LOVE THAT!! He doesn’t tell them that there will be money or riches or power, he tells them that they will be better people for doing this, and the adventures will be payment enough. He even helps Eddie through his drug addiction as Eddie helps him with something that I shall not mention. Also, there is such a seriously fuckawesome shootout where we are shown what these guys are really capable of, especially Eddie and Roland, and it made me scream out in glee in my car as I was reading it on my lunch break. I didn’t even care that the person next to me looked at me like I was crazy. Fist pumps and shouts of Roland and Eddie were totally appropriate at that point. I didn’t even care. It makes me that much more excited to keep going through this and get to the rest of the series.
I know you all take my suggestions to you very seriously, and I appreciate that. This one you will have to treat the same, because it is so good that you will need to read it and keep reading it until you are completely done with the series. It isn’t too difficult and shouldn’t take you too much time. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Also, Lady Harkness was so wonderfully generous that she gifted me the entire collection of the Dark Tower when she found out I was reading it again. So now, I have a bag filled with the promise of adventure and the best deeds a man can bring himself to achieve. I can’t wait, and really, the only thing standing in my way at the moment, besides work, is the looming release of Batman Arkham Origins. There is always bed time though, and that’s when I do my best reading. A big Thank You to Fiction for Bandits for giving me the idea to get back into this, and to Lady Harkness for giving me the means to do this. Trust me guys, before you know it, you’ll be planning tattoos of Roland, much like I currently am. Now go forth and read!!!
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