Monday, December 11, 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017

We're All In This Together by Owen King -- A Book Review


Photo: Book's cover, from its Goodreads page

Extremely good writing here, in Owen King's first effort, which I decided to read after having read his recent collaboration with his more-famous father, Sleeping Beauties. The self-titled novella is a bit over-written about in the promos, and it took awhile to grow on me, but the shorter stories are excellent.

More Jack Ketchum than Stephen King, Owen King does sad and weird very well, which I mean as a compliment. (I'm thinking of Ketchum's excellent and sad zombie stories as I write this.) The stories here, though, also have an odd scariness, more of the everyday and common-to-life variety, I guess. There's a 1930s ballplayer who's bringing his kind-of girlfriend to an alley abortionist and wondering if he's a decent person: "Wonders." (That scene isn't to be missed--and it's not grisly at all.) There's a tooth-pulling in a locale straight out of The Revenant--and this in 2006, long before that movie: "Frozen Animals." There's a sad and strange story about life-drifting people who would seem like losers if they weren't like so many of us, and perhaps most of us: "My Second Wife." As I said, the novella picks up steam halfway through and is touching and meaningful by the end, and has perhaps the best fleshed-out characters. One story, about a lost teenage boy running into a shyster and his snake at a hole-in-the-wall mall didn't really work for me, but has things in common with the other stories that worked in those.

The end result is a memorable read, with scenes very Tarantino-like, more of a build-up to a tense payoff than anything horrifying. The writing and characterization are really very good, up to par with his father's characterization at his best, and frankly the overall writing is better here--though Stephen King is a much better storyteller. Overall I prefer Owen King here to anything Joe Hill, his more-famous brother, has written, though in fairness I haven't given Hill's stuff a very serious look. I have given it a serious effort, though--and just can't get into it. Owen King's stuff was much easier to dive into. One wonders why Owen King hasn't become more popular, especially since he shares the famous last name that Hill has gone out of his way to distance himself from. Maybe Owen King hasn't written as much, and not in the same genre.