Blaze - Richard Bachman

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Blaze - Richard Bachman

Clay Blaisdell is one big mother, but his capers are strictly small-time until his mentor introduces him to the one big score that every small-timer d...

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Review of "Blaze - Richard Bachman"

published 14/08/2007 | kitty17
Member since : 11/04/2004
Reviews : 42
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About me :
Not for me
Pro Nice Cover
Cons Pricey for a short novel
very helpful
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Story
Characters
Readability

"A Blaze of Glory?"

As a huge Stephen King fan I can often be somewhat biased in a favourable disposition to his work, but I have found it almost impossible to find anything favourable really to say about this new writing. I cannot call it a novel because to me it's too short to be a novel, I like length when reading, I can think of nothing better than getting stuck into a big chunky read, immersing myself in characters, plot, place etc.

Anyway, bit of background to start:

King first wrote as Richard Bachman way back when I was a wee sprite of a thing, publishing The Bachman Books, which consisted of three feature length stories in one large book, Rage, The Long Road, and The Running Man that was later filmed with Arnold Schwarznegger in the lead role.

A later short novelette was the story called 'Thinner' which was also made into a film.

Bachman has reared his head since then with a more recent novel called The Regulators which was co-published to coincide with the publication of the accompanying novel in King's own name called Desperation.

And now Blaze.

The Review:

The cover is quite promising, depicting a silhouette of a large bird soaring through the sky, Stephen King's name in gaudy red letters like blood dripping. And the title, Blaze along the bottom, I was so excited, a new King book, with a good snappy title, and a nice fetching cover.

I hate to give too much of a plot away, and so will just give you the bare bones: Blaze is Clay Blaisdell, he is a big guy who until recently ran a couple of harmless cons with his mate George Rackley, George the brains of the outfit wants to pull 'one big con' so that they're set for life, he comes up with the idea but then dies leaving Blaze to fulfil his dream.

At nearly 300 pages long, this for King is a short novel, I feel it almost gets going, but then simply runs out of ideas and limps along to the inevitable end. It was relatively easy to get into as I find most King novels are, he sets the scene well, but even at the beginning I feel it is like a stage set and you can almost see King's hands puppeting the characters along, onto the stage then off again.

The story does bump along at a good pace, I was drawn in at first, liking the links between past and present so that we learn more about Blaze, but I began to feel that the only reason King did this, giving us an insight into Blaze's childhood was in order for us to feel sorry for him, not to really learn more about the character, or to show us what is in his soul, or his mind, or to understand his shortcomings and forgive him for them, I felt that they were only there so that we would pity this poor hulk of a man, and although there was a little adventure added to the story because of the timeshift, it certainly didn't save the novel.

We move back and forward in time, visiting Blaze's childhood and then onward to the present when the time seems to be pressing Blaze into acting out a terrible crime, there is some sense of urgency in the later part of the novel, but it is hampered by the limited sense of the character as being a whole person, and conscious of thought and action, and believability, he is barely recognizant as human, more of a bear with a dented head. And less hairy of course.

I wanted to feel sorry for the character but felt that he was just so unbelievable that it was hard to feel anything except puzzlement and agitation, and there really is only one character to the story, and I feel that this also brings problems to the novel, because of the nature of Blaze himself, it is hard for us to imagine him having a relationship with another human, and luckily for him he has little human contact, hence there is little human interaction within the present part of the novel. And the relationships and interactions within Blaze's past I felt were used to solicit our sympathy, woe upon woe befalls him, and abuse upon abuse. This all made is extremely hard for me to feel any sort of empathy with the character.

The chapters are quite short, and the story does pump along at a pace, and at only 300 pages it is soon over. We get a brief and simple description of place and time in the present, it being winter and the shack where Blaze is living is simplistically drawn, and little more perspective is given - again it feels like a stage setting, the ending of the novel felt forced and inevitable, and strangely dead.

I was also a little overwhelmed with the idea that King is attempting here to re-write Steinbeck's superior short novel 'Of Mice and Men' for a modern audience, but this book is nothing compared to Steinbeck's far more effective and thought provoking story, I was left wondering if it is a homage to Steinbeck's work, or just King attempting to reinvent himself as a 'more serious' author.

The novel begins with a foreward written by King, writing as King, and in it does reference Steinbeck's novel, and Dickens' 'The Old Curiosity Shop' and I was dismayed to realise that what he purports not to be doing within the foreward - he is actually doing in the novel, which is 'the pouring on of more woes, and more abuse' to sentimentalise and over-saccharise the story.

The book ends with a short story entitled Memory which was published in Volume 7, Number 4 of Tin House, summer 2006 issue. This is about 25 pages long and is a featureless tale I thought, but by the time I had reached the end of Blaze I was certainly in little mood for another tame and brief lament, maybe if I go back and re-read the short tale at the end at a later date I might enjoy it a bit more.

Conclusion:

I am an ardent fan of King, if you have read any of my previous reviews of his works then you will know that, and I longed to love this book, I longed to feel sympathy and warmth for the character, but couldn't.

It is in my opinion a strange little novel, the atmosphere is forced and it's longing to be a modern version of Steinbeck's novel made me hate it even more.

I was disappointed with the characters, the plot seems in itself ridiculous and unreal, the flashbacks to Blaze's past simply a means to an end rather than revealing his character and soul, and all-in-all a poor read.

My copy was purchased from Amazon in hardback retailing at £16.99 but is available now at Amazon for approximately £10.00.

Note that I am reviewing the hardback version of this novel and not an audio-recording as the criteria states below.

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Comments on this review

  • Jake_Speed published 06/08/2011
    good review
  • catsholiday published 21/03/2009
    Very thorough review - thanks. Sue
  • law3 published 11/02/2008
    Great review! I've always liked 'Bachman's books but this sounds like one to buy when I see it really cheap somewhere.
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Product Information : Blaze - Richard Bachman

Manufacturer's product description

Clay Blaisdell is one big mother, but his capers are strictly small-time until his mentor introduces him to the one big score that every small-timer dreams of: kidnap. But now the brains of the operation has died - or has he? - and Blaze is alone with a baby as hostage. The Crime of the Century just turned into a race against time in the white hell of the Maine woods.

Product Details

Type: Fiction

Genre: Modern Fiction, Horror

Title: Blaze

Author: Richard Bachman, Stephen King

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, Hodder Paperback

Number of Pages: 336

Edition: Hardcover, Paperback

ISBN: 0340952229; 0340952237; 0340952245; 141655484X, 0340952245

EAN: 9780340952245

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Listed on Ciao since: 11/09/2007