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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of November 9, 2009

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It's beginning to look a lot like… Thanksgiving perhaps, but that's about it. Let's not go overboard. 

Under the Dome
by Stephen King

The newest 1074-page cat-squasher from Stephen King, Under the Dome, will certainly have more than just some pagination running away with you. The recipe for supernatural disaster and doom will of course contain the usual Kingsian dashes and smidgens for the ingredients: the state of Maine, unexplained happenings, dark forces, implausible heroes.

In the planning stages for 33 years, Under the Dome had proved to be a formidable challenge for King since he conceived the idea in 1976, inking 75 pages before skulking “away from it with my tail from it between my legs.” In 1979 he picked up the pieces of the tale – about the residents of a small town cut off from the world by an invisible force field – and made more progress, but again was delayed during the 1980s and ‘90s due to conscientious decisions to study up on current environmental matters, then on technological and meteorological issues he felt needed to integrate within the novel. King was also significantly set off course on this project, among others, by the 1999 accident in which a minivan hit him while he was out walking.

Whether the supernatural horror of Under the Dome will cause the novel to be compared to classic King epics such as the The Stand and It will take the test of assessment and time. A luxury, unfortunately, that the novelistic population of the small town of Chester's Mill, Maine, doesn’t have as they’re surrounded by the invisible force field. Evil is omnipresent here, but organized religion is useful only for those who would moan, "The Dome is God's will." The defecation soon hits the oscillation for a struggling citizenry facing the dome's ecological effects and the machinations of Big Jim Rennie, a pious little politician and drug king who likes the idea of having an isolated populace to victimize. Opposing him are drifing Iraq veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbara, newspaper editor Julia Shumway, a throng of teenage skateboarders and others keen on confronting a cosmic conundrum that riddles them thus. And it's the brave loner who has bothered to do a little research who also attempts to save everyone's hide. Whether or not he succeeds. There's plenty of winter evenings for the reader to settle down and find out, and scare him or herself senseless in the process.


Larry Bond's Red Dragon Rising: Shadows of War
by Larry Bond

The Disciple (Tommy Carmellini Series #4)
by Stephen Coonts

The Fleet Street Murders (Charles Lenox Series #3)
by Charles Finch

Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid (Tales from the Crypt Series #8)
by David Gerrold, Stefan Petrucha, Rob Vollmar, Jim Salicrup, John L. Lansdale

The Mirror and the Mask
by Ellen Hart

by Linda Howard

Destroyer of Worlds
by Larry Niven

The Crisis
by David Poyer

New York
by Edward Rutherfurd


Open: An Autobiography
by Andre Agassi

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild
by Lawrence Anthony

American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
by Joan Biskupic

Last Words
by George Carlin, with Tony Hendra

The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life
by Len Fisher

What Science Knows
by Ames Franklin

Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson
by William Langewiesche

Interesting Times: Writings from a Turbulent Decade
by George Packer

Europe's Ghost: Tolerance, Jihadism, and the Crisis in the West
by Michael Radu

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays
by Zadie Smith

Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation
by Elissa Stein, Susan Kim

Believe It, Be It: How Being the Biggest Loser Won Me Back My Life
by Ali Vincent

When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin
by Mick Wall

Fall to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll, and Mental Illness
by Mary Forsberg Weiland

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • I’m looking forward to reading Stephen King’s latest novel. I do hope it compares favorably to his earlier tales like The Stand.