Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Long Walk by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman


They call it the Long Walk.  Every year one hundred men, many young boys not out of their teens, start the walk.  The winner gets to ask and get for anything they desire.  The catch?  There are strict rules, the main one being that the walkers cannot stop for anything.  Those who stop or slow down past the minimum speed are warned.  A warning can be walked off if the walker gets up to speed and stays there for an hour.  Three warnings and another offense means that the soldiers who accompany the walkers shot and kill the offender.  At the end, there will be only one walker.

Ray Garraty is the local favorite.  The walk starts and is mostly in Maine and he is a Maine son.  Ray is sixteen and he entered the contest on a whim.  When he was chosen, he had thirty days to decide if he would take up the challenge or take his name out of the competition.  Both his widowed mother and his girlfriend begged him to drop out but something made him continue.  Now he is in it to the end.

The walkers start out full of vim and vigor  But as the hours roll on, they get quieter.  They must eat while moving, drink, if they need to relieve themselves they have to do it in full view of others and as time goes on, even sleep as they walk.  Some make friends and some form enemies.  The first deaths start to occur and the mood changes as it sinks in that this is real and only one of them will survive.  Will it be Ray?

This is an early novel of King's, written under his alter name, Richard Bachman.  King writes an introduction talking about why he used the Bachman name.  Bachman had a darker vision of the future and of humanity than King.  This book is a good illustration.  The reader slowly realizes that yes, all the characters they start to recognize and empathize with, will be killed, one by one.  Hopes and dreams don't matter, whether you are a good person or bad doesn't matter.  All that matters is whether you can outwalk the others.  This book is recommended for suspense and horror fans.

No comments: