Stephen King – The Dead Zone Audiobook
Dead Zone is a modern tragedy. In the genre crushed by Destiny and consumed by difficult choices, John Smith has nothing to envy the characters of Sophocles or Racine. He compares himself to Hamlet, the tragic mister par excellence.
The main idea of the book seems simple on paper: if you have the power to change things, will you do it?
The problem – and the strength – of this book is that King poses the question like a nag.
If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you?
Very Godwinian before the hour. Excessive. Simplistic limit.
The question remains in many ways rhetorical and theoretical. But it has the merit of asking itself, with a bunch of questions on ethics, fate, responsibility, the weight of each in the course of the world …
This question, King addresses to the reader in a way as direct as ‘obvious. His character is called John Smith, plus Mr. X you die. A shell in which the reader will have no trouble settling.
Except that, John Smith is not the reader. the extraordinary guy in the strictest sense, who forces you to slip into his skin to ask yourself the question and above all, above all, to extract yourself from it to answer it. Otherwise, you will end up as A gifted student.
Here’s the problem with John Smith: You can’t help but empathize and sympathize with him. He’s good, like first prize in the goodness contest, you’ll never get close to him. Perfect, almost too much. And faced with a super-villain. Rather than a potential Hitler, Dead Zone would have benefited from staging a more pervert antagonist, craftsman of a policy of manure less thunderous than a nuclear apocalypse. Better yet, a just incompetent president, whose decisions full of good intentions but flawed in their results would set the planet on fire. There, the moral dilemma would reach a genius dimension: should we kill the guy who has nothing of evil embodied and who started the third world war without doing it on purpose?
With that, King makes John’s decision-making easier. A cancerous tumor doesn’t give her a long time to live (I’m talking about Smith, eh, not King). Condemned no matter what, he has nothing more to lose, the fear of leaving his skin while taking action is evacuated. We add a layer with the mediumistic power of John: he knows. If he ignores the turn that History will take in killing Greg Stillson, he has no doubts about what will happen if he spares him. the kind of certainty that helps, you have to admit.
Well, there, I seem to shit on the book to criticize everything. This is not the case. I mean, I scratch a little. Not to mention weaknesses or clumsiness, some of King’s biases strike me as questionable. That does not prevent them from being in the perspective of the novel. I loved Dead Zone, the novel like the adaptation of Cronenberg.
Despite a Manichean clash, the construction of the two protagonists leaves on the ass. They do not give in the caricature of the nice naive face to the villain who punctuates each of his sentences with a devilish laugh. Very distinct figures, extreme but with real depth, because we are not in a blockbuster with two bullets.
John’s cancer, if it constitutes a rather big scenario spring, remains coherent in a Kingian perspective. Friend Stephen is not an author with great disembodied ideas, he defines himself as a “situational writer”. Because the reactions, the answers vary depending on whether you ask yourself the question warm, cushy in your chair, or if you are extricated from your comfort zone and faced with the problem. In the second case, more realistic, you take into account all the parameters, what you have to gain, to lose, what you are ready to sacrifice.
By its basic side, Dead Zone asks a raw question. When I spoke of her strength a little earlier, she is there. It’s brutal, as the other would say, which parachutes you into the heat of the action without getting lost in the care philosophy: the question is concrete, it is a question of killing someone, it is not nothing. It is then up to the reader to engage his brain and refine the reflection. This book requires a real effort to go beyond its intrinsic content.
And I insist on it. It would be quick to attribute to the author intentions he does not have. For example, justifying murder, let alone preventive murder. We have seen what it looks like on a larger scale, the preventive, with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction (the phantom threat…), speaking example of a “kill Hitler” which goes into a spin and whose positive results are long overdue. Civil war in Iraq, Daesh, Bataclan, well done guys, thank you for the gift…
It’s funny (sic) to see how this novel sticks to quite a few episodes of American political life since its publication. On a smaller scale, it addresses fundamental questions about individual freedoms. Can we, must we, must we, do we have the right to punish someone for an act he has not committed? How far can we go to preserve lives and with what consequences? You have four hours, the use of the calculator is prohibited, the jury authorizes the reading of Philip K. Dick (Minority Report).
A very topical book (cliché formula, but very accurate for the moment).
To a reporter who asked him if he was going to write a book about sitting Trump, King replied that he had already done so: “No, I wrote one called The Dead Zone.” We can only hope that Stillson remains a fictional character …