Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day Thirteen: Of giant spiders, talking dogs, and other gentle animals

Note: The following entry contains pretty major spoilers for Stephen King's Dark Tower series. If you don't wanna know, then commala-come-back-tomorra!

My quest for The Dark Tower began sometime in early September, I believe, and seven books later I have finally seen the top. (I had to take a few breaks during the course for various reasons, including two one-month long breaks, but I got there!) The experience through Stephen King's seven book fantasy/western/post-apocalypse series was vastly different from the whimsical romp through J. K. Rowling's seven Harry Potter novels, and not just because of all the extra cussing. These books are just a lot harder to read. While Harry's adventures can be raced through in one or two good long sittings, Roland's...can't.

The man 's quest takes a very heavy toll on him every step of the way, and at times it does the same to the reader. I can't say I'd actually recommend it to too many people that I know, but to those whom I would recommend it I'd recommend it most enthusiastically! (Did that make sense?)

Anyway, I read the last 130 or so pages today. Usually I do my reading late at night (sometimes this contributes to what scientists call the "Will-isn't-sleeping-enough effect"), but I wanted to make sure I got through this sucker today so I could move on with my literary life (see: finishing my own novel) before the weekend was up and the Hero Squad consumes all my life again for a couple of days. So, I tried something fairly new: reading during the day time.

This worked really well when Robbie was taking his nap. After he awoke? Well, it was an experience.

This afternoon, as I'm trying to see if I can't at least get to the book's falling action before the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, Robbie is running between Kim and I, trading off our attention. I'm reading while he's playing with Kim, and not when he's crawling on me.

So I get to the point in the story where Roland (our hero/anti-hero) is attacked by an evil spider-monster that is (as best as I can figure) about 20% his son (Long story) while he lay sleeping. Roland's companion Oy the billybumbler (imagine a more intelligent variety of talking dog) attacks the beast, which is obviously killing poor Oy, but the tenacious creature hangs on.

While this is happening, Robbie is coming up to me with a large picture book with cardboard pages and a look that says "please pay attention to me, Daddy" in his eye and says, "Book?"

So of course, I put the Tower aside in my lap and lean forward and take Bendon Bear's Gentle Animals. The first page is about a parrot, and how their beaks are strong enough to break fingers. Nice, gentle animal. We go on to read about kittens, puppies, penguins, seals, dolphins, and ducks, and then Robbie, satisfied, goes on his way.

Back to the battle with the evil demon spider boy.


And the bumbler could have escaped had he chosen to, but instead it sank its razor-sharp teeth again
"Parrots have strong, sharp beaks which they use to break nuts. Be careful, Bendon! Don't get too close!"
into the black, hairy flesh where one of the legs joined the repulsive body
"Kittens like to play with yarn. Look, Bendon has their favorite toy!"
...And Roland loaded his gun as Oy's back bent a direction it wasn't meant to go
"Puppies like to take naps. Shh, Bendon! They're sleeping!"
And Roland fired six shots...

Et cetera, et cetera.

By the way, by the time we got to the penguin, Robbie was bored of the gentle animals and had toddled back into the kitchen. Still, I can't help but feel all the emotional impact of poor Oy's sacrifice could be fully felt in the absurdity of the moment.

Then again, I've always been a sucker for absurd moments. So those of you with children can understand why the entire parenting experience has been so appealing to me ;-)