Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Blaze" by Richard Bachman

Of course everyone knows that Richard Bachman is a pen-name for Stephen King. He used it a couple of decades ago, probably to publish some works that might have been frowned upon had he put "King" on the title page. Bachman books have typically had fewer characters on canvas and have concentrated on the personal lives of those characters, rather than the spooky, supernatural stuff. King "killed off" Bachman when it was clear that an ardent fan realized who Bachman was and threatened to blow the cover. The name Bachman has continued to pop up over time; in 1995, "The Regulators" (by Bachman) was released simultaneously with "Desperation" (by King).

Now "Blaze" has been discovered by one of King's assistants. He didn't like the story when it was originally written and stuck it in a trunk to be forgotten. After reading it with fresh eyes, he decided to do a bit of editing, a bit of re-working, etc, and voila! It's like having a new book, but it's old. You know the drill.

As for the summary, here it is, straight off the dust jacket. Sorry folks, but I couldn't do any better myself, and it tells you pretty much all you need to know.

"Blaze is the story of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. - of the crimes committed against him and the crimes he commits, including his last, the kidnapping of a baby heir worth millions. Blaze has been a slow thinking since childhood, when his father threw him down the stairs - and then threw him down again. After escaping an abusive institution for boys when he was a teenager, Blaze hooks up with George, a seasoned criminal who thinks he has all the answers. But then George is killed, and Blaze, though haunted by his partner, is on his own. He becomes one of the most sympathetic criminals in all of literature. This is a crime story of surprising strength and sadness, with a suspenseful current sustained by the classic workings of fate and character...."

Blaze really is one of the most sympathetic mokes to come down the pike, as George would say. You get a slight glimpse of Blaze before his father gravely injures him, and all I could think was what sort of a man he could've been, if only. Then as I read further, I realized that Blaze wasn't a bad person, just one who sometimes did bad things. He truly is the "gentle giant" of literature, a person who only wants to have a friend in this world, a person who doesn't lash out until it's necessary. The interaction between him and "Joey", the baby he kidnaps, is especially heart-warming. It's not often that you find yourself rooting for the "bad buy", but I sure did.

This is a great "find" for King fans. Short, tight writing, good character development, and a great story. "Blaze" is a definite thumbs-up from the Bookbabe. Her Hubster gave an equally enthusiastic review, and said to share with all.

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