Richard Chizmar Is Reading Rage Right Now
Just a quick update to let you know that Richard is reading Rage right now.
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Not one of favorite King stories as it comes across as clunkier than much of his other works. And one impossible to evaluate solely as a piece of fiction because of real world events that followed.
Umm, if he is reading the paperback as shown, I’ll gladly take it off of his hands when he is done 🙂
I read Rage last week. I read it for the first time in the mid/late 80s as part of the “Bachman Books” omnibus. Honestly? I don’t remember reading it the first time at all! Oops!
Re-reading it, I was struck by a few things:
1. How good King is at writing non-horror. As the years have rolled by, I find (as a man in his early 50s now) that I’m far less interested in the supernatural hokum and much more interested in someone who tells a good story, hopefully with some insight into the human condition. When I think now about the King books which have resonated most with me, it’s usually the non-horror work – The Body, Shawshank, 11.22.63, and so on – and those books where the non-horror is kept to a bare minimum. (Although, to be fair, when re-reading most of King’s books I’m struck by how little “horror” they contain. It’s easy, when you’ve not read the books for a while, to get the books and the movies mixed up in your mind, and the movies tend to focus much more on the horror than the story, as such)
2. King may have written this as a teenager – and that shows in many ways – but the tropes he covers are fairly universal, and still, in many ways, relevant today.
3. Repeatedly, when reading this, I was struck by the similarities with the John Huges movie “The Breakfast Club”. OK, so no one gets killed in the movie, but, in the book, the murders are so UN-sensational that they may as well not have happened, and the protagonist in the book, Charlie Decker, is very similar to the Judd Nelson character, John Bender. He’s on a mission – even if it’s on a subconscious level – to help his fellow student pull aside the veil, just as John Bender is bent (haha) on helping the scales to fall from the eyes of his partners in crime. We re-watched the film not long ago as a family (my five kids are now aged 11-22) and I was impressed by how well it has stood up to the passage of time. John Hughes is dead now but I’d love to know if he’d read Rage, or was inspired by it. On the other hand, the themes of the book and the movie are so familiar now (after several decades of teen-related books and movies) that any resemblance may be entirely coincidental.
So far, Rage has been the most pleasant surprise of the re-reading project.
I have read RAGE 3 times and still think it is an excellent piece of work and it is a shame it is no longer available to new readers.
I just read “Rage” as well. What did you think of it?
I read and re-read this book as an angry, outsider teenager. I never felt the urge to commit the acts that Charlie Decker did, but there was always a part of me cheering him on. 20-ish years later, after so many children have died at the hands of various Charlie Deckers, I feel such a weird mix of emotions. Sadness for the lives lost most of all, amazement at the difference between the teenager I was and the woman I am, and a really strange curiosity about whether Rage has really affected the school shooting phenomenon. On one hand, I think that there have always been angry kids, and kids who kill people, and there were plenty of kids-killing-kids horror stories before Rage. I also think that it’s not so much that “Stephen King said taking a gun to school is cool!” so much as the massive media attention the first few major shootings received, particularly Columbine.
I think what I’m getting at is that Charlie Decker took a gun to school because he was angry and had a lot of issues, and once he realized he had a captive audience, he tried to make them see the error of their ways, look beyond the high school BS. It was about his father, and the kids who didn’t see him for the person he was, and so on – it was all very internal, or limited to a very small scope (his family, the school).
There’s a big difference in that and a lot of the recent school shootings, in my opinion (and let me just add, I hate that I can reference “a lot of school shootings”). The modern shooters are angry young men who want to hurt someone, but they also want to Make A Statement. They commit their crimes with news vans and live coverage in mind. It’s been a long time since I read Rage, but I don’t remember that element being there. I understand Stephen King wanting to take this book off the shelves, and I commend him for it, but I also think it’s kind of misguided to think that doing so will lessen the chance that an angry kid will get ideas. CNN & Co. will make sure that every detail of the latest atrocity is readily available for anyone needing a few tips on mass murder.