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Old 10 January 2018, 06:10 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,358

Originally Posted by Phantom View Post
I may get hate mail for this, but I submit the original Gunslinger book by Stephen King. ...

I've heard that the revised version is much better, but I haven't read it. I was going to chalk this book's awkwardness up to a novice writer, but it's not clear to me if King wrote the manuscript early and set it aside or if it was after hits such as Carrie.
I actually mentioned that in the earlier thread, so I'm not going to send you hate mail! I've not read the original, only the revised version, but here's the relevant part of my post from the other one:

Also - and this is not an example, but I think it may once have been - I'm currently reading the first volume of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger. My edition is the rewritten one from 2003, with forewords that King wrote after he got hit by the van and decided he needed to get on and finish the series, and it's certainly not a bad book in the sense of this thread - I'm enjoying it. But everything I heard about the first volume of the series back in the eighties and nineties was that it was weird, hard to read, disconnected from the others and that you kind of needed to slog through it and get to the second one before you could appreciate the story. And the things King describes rewriting suggest (reading between the lines a bit) that he'd realised it had a lot of problems, he originally wrote it when he was still learning to be a good writer but might have been aiming too hard for "literature", and he cut out a lot of pretentious, overblown nonsense - as well as streamlining it and adding more foreshadowing and connections to the longer story.

I can see enough parts that he left in that suggest what he might have cut out - for example, the gunslinger uses Cockney slang in places, but uses it wrongly. He uses "gob" to mean "eye" when it means "mouth", and is constantly using "palaver" as though it means the same as "parley", when in fact it means a to-do, perhaps an argy-bargy or a bit of a ruckus.

Of course there's no reason for these words to mean the same thing in the story's universe as they do in English, but it's like King picked them for "colour" without quite understanding what they meant. Like if an English writer wanted an exotic word to describe a fried-egg sandwich and decided on "grits". That would be annoying to people from parts of the USA no matter how often you might try to say "but grits are fried-egg sandwiches in this world!" (I'm not quite sure what grits are, but I know they're not fried-egg sandwiches). Or like the way George RR Martin seems to think that a rasher of bacon is a side of bacon, perhaps... maybe in the USA "rasher" is an uncommon word for "a large, indeterminate amount of bacon", but in the UK it's a common word with a specific meaning that's different from the one Martin uses, and I get the impression that Martin is using it because he thinks it's an unusual word that sounds suitably historic, rather than because it actually means something different in the USA.

Anyway, the rewritten Gunslinger is a pretty decent read so far, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, but I can see that in its original version I might have thought it was terrible.
(And even the rewritten one has its problems. The series as a whole is a good read but I'm still not sure he quite managed what he was aiming for.)
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