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Topic: Begin discussion of Salem's Lot for Halloween.

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Date Posted: 10/26/2012 3:18 PM ET
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I guess if no one answers this question today I'll assume it's a bust for this discussion. It was a long shot without proper notice so that's not surprising.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 10/26/2012 4:48 PM ET
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I'm getting there, I didn't have time this morning. That was a heck of a question! More like 9 or 10 questions really. I saw it at like 11 last night but I didn't want to be up for another hour, then I had a doctor's appt this morning. 

Ok, deep breath. I've never been east of Illinois so if the eastern seaboard has a 'feel' or vibe to it I wouldn't know. Maybe someone who knows it would see more of a value in the choice of location. King uses his home setting a lot in his work, makes sense, it's probably what he knows best. But since I've never been there and don't really know much about it the setting didn't seem to matter that much to me. I didn't notice anything that distinguished it from anywhere else, it sounded like typical small town life. Everyone knows everyone and their business. But I think all small towns are like that, regardless of where they are. It did matter that it was a small town, if it had happened in a big city where people can disappear and change unnoticed they would have gotten away with it much longer. It could have gone on for quite awhile before anyone put it together, then there would have been a vampire army. I didn't really see it as gothic. Maybe the evil house, since it was so old, but I don't think it had a big gothic vibe to it. I don't think I know what "gothic conventions" are, I'm not that literally educated nor do I read much gothic material, so I don't know if he violated them. I'm not sure if there was a reason mentioned why Marsden chose the town to move to in the first place other than it was small and remote. The house took on his evil but I don't think he said it was evil before Marsden. After Marsden the house definitely held his evil and was clearly chosen by the new guys because of it. Plus Marsden had told them about it's location and it was perfect for their uses. Not only would people leave it alone because they were scared of it but it had his leftover bad energy. With the house being on a hill and overlooking the town, and visible from a good deal of the town, it did seem to lord over it. It was an eternal presence, something they could never forget. It also put the house in a good place for protection, it is hard to sneak up on if you're paying attention. If there were really vampires and they wanted to take over all they would have to do is slowly take over these small places until the borders met. You could conquer a good deal of the US that way. By the time they got to the cities there would be so many vampires they could wipe one out in a night. The only problem is he made the new vampires kinda dim, not sure they could be trusted to be organized or follow directions. 

Phew, I think that's everything. 



Last Edited on: 10/26/12 5:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/27/2012 1:09 AM ET
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Sorry I didn't mean to rush you, I thought no one was paying attention to this one because of the short notice. Anyway, I usually split up those ten part questions but since this is an abbreviated discussion I figured I'd put it all down in one. I think you have a pretty good assesment there. King's got this way of making Maine feel like it could be in just about anyone's back yard plus thanks to him I'm pretty sure hicks are the same no matter where you go. As for the gothic conventions I think he went into the book intending to draw from traditional gothic lit like Dracula but he eventually put more of the pulp that he read as a child into it. The vampires were more akin to the comic books that he read than Dracula. I'll add more tomorrow, right now I'm off to bed, I've tweaked my back somehow and I'ma go lay on a heating pad.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 10/27/2012 1:10 PM ET
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Ugh, back pain sucks. When my hips go out letting the hot shower pound on them a bit helps a lot. Hope it feels better soon. 

I didn't feel rushed, just saying I was here! I'm not sure anyone else has read it though. I agree it seems more pulpy than authentic goth. He didn't delve into the mechanics of his vampires much, didn't really need to. We all have the general vampire common knowledge and he seemed to write it that way, like we already knew what we needed to know. That's probably a good thing, better than rehashing a bunch of stuff we already know.

Date Posted: 10/27/2012 3:42 PM ET
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This story is set in 1975. The book was first published around the same time. The technologies and cultural trends from the book are authentic to what a small town would have been like during that period. How would the story have been different if it had been set in the current year (in the 21st century)?

I can actually easily answer this, there would be a ton of distress calls on cell phones if it happened today. I kept thinking while reading it, "Why not just call for help?" Then I remember it's set in the 70's and no one had cells.

Date Posted: 10/27/2012 3:43 PM ET
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I got a heating pad but it's not helping much, gonna probably soak tonight after I go to a Halloween party.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 10/27/2012 7:40 PM ET
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Oh yeah, cell phones would have ended it quickly. It is hard to remember what life was like before you could reach pretty much anyone anytime. No one disappears anymore. 

Date Posted: 10/27/2012 8:55 PM ET
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Yeah when I occasionally think about running away I remember it would be pointless because my mom would be calling me every hour or so to find out what I was doing.

I'm gonna just move ahead with another question since it's really just us. Why do children seem to have a more immediate understanding of what's going on than the adults do, and what are some of the ways that King shows their understanding?  Why does it take longer for the adults to believe? 

Kids are usually a big deal for King, a lot of his bigger characters are kids. I think he uses this idea that children are more open to the world around them and to possibilities than adults are. I think that to King the idea is that we should all be more like children more apt to believe the impossible and to bypass the cant in our lives. The adults were slow on the uptake because they have closed their minds. I liked that comparison between the way Mark and Matt handled seeing the vampires, Matt had a heart attack because it was so impossibly crazy and Mark went back to sleep after the threat was gone.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 10/28/2012 12:24 AM ET
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I think he's (and you're) right, kids are way more open to these things. I think he told the story very believably, it's right on the edge of 'it could happen' and the adult reactions were realistic. If you think about what it would take for you yourself to believe....even if I saw a vampire in front of me I would probably think it was someone dressed up until it was too late. Some weirdo breaking in to houses dressed like Dracula. I would be like "Oh yeah big scary man, gonna bite my neck now?", lol. We are so sure that these things can't happen, it takes a heck of a lot of convincing to turn it into reality. And if someone comes to you with the story, yeah, never gonna believe it. 

I've not read a huge amount of King, mostly the popular stuff, although I did make it through The Stand which is a pretty good accomplishment. Memoirs are probably my favorite genre because people are usually very honest and open them selves up, and that's probably why Stand By Me is my favorite King. Even though he dramatized it a little the event and people were real, that was him as a kid. I don't really know enough of his work to say it's a trend but he definitely gives the kids in that story a lot of credit, they are more together than the few older people in it or even themselves when they get older. And in his narration, he seems to be saying you are smarter, better, as a kid than when you grow up. I think that story is more about mourning what we lose as we age than anything else.  

Oh, something that occurred to me about the last question, about if it took place now. With the internet it would be easy to put together a group of people who did believe in vampires to come help you if it happened now. People would eat that stuff up. Of course you'd also have a bunch of people that wanted to join them....

Date Posted: 10/28/2012 1:04 AM ET
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I haven't read a lot of his books but I love the movies and mini series that they make with his books. The ones he is directly involved with are generally really close to the books, so I'm told by friends who do read his books frequently. I think the rule of thumb is if he's got a cameo then it's probably closely related to the book. One of my all time favorite movies is IT and the kids in that are the key to the whole dang thing. As adults they have to start thinking like they did as children to defeat the evil. Also I have the best line ever to use to freak out a friend of mine, "They all float down here Georgie!" I may hafta rent that one too lol.

Date Posted: 10/29/2012 2:57 AM ET
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In what ways are the vampires in the book like "classic" vampires? How are they different from humans?

They are scary not really romantic or sexy. I don't mind sexy vampires but I damn sure want them to be obvious monsters because that's the point of a vampire.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 10/29/2012 2:49 PM ET
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He didn't spend that much time with the actual vampires, they were left a little vague which is probably scarier if you don't everything about them already. That probably had more impact in the 70's than now in our over-saturated vampire culture. Long before vampires "sparkled", when they were just scary. The vampires that used to be the townspeople weren't very bright, they seemed to be pretty easily tricked and overcome. Even the head vampire wasn't that big of a challenge once they got him cornered. They weren't sexy at all, even though they could mesmerize people into letting them in there wasn't really anything sexy or romantic about it. Especially when you knew who they were in their real lives.  What he did say about the head vampire especially matched the old horror movie vampires much more than any modern vamp. That's probably a good thing. 

Date Posted: 10/29/2012 6:43 PM ET
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I think that was my last question on the list. Guess we can just do a wrap up then what did you like/dislike about the book and so forth. I liked the atmosphere he built but I didn't like the detail of each unimportant character's life that was too much.

Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 10/29/2012 6:54 PM ET
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The character studies were the only thing that really annoyed me, one whole section is just one and two page bios of characters that will never contribute to the story again except as being noted as victims. He could have trimmed out probably a third of the book without hurting the story any. He does characters well, the little life stories were well developed and gave you a real sense of the person, but it just didn't matter. The book is Hitchcockian scary, done more with mood and subtlety than violence and grossness. More effective scariness. It was just close enough to possible to make me leave a light on a couple nights. Possible stories are much scarier to me than those overdone horror stories, like Saw. That's not scary, it's just gross. 

Date Posted: 10/29/2012 7:37 PM ET
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I hated Saw because at the end the guy who supposedly did all of it had a brain tumor. My aunt had passed about a year before that with a brain tumor and it was just not believable to me that a cancer patient of any kind was dragging people out of parking lots and knocking em out and stuff. I agree that believable is a better story but to me there are a few writers who can make even the most out there plots believable, Jim Butcher is one of them, when I read a Dresden Files book it's almost like I could look Harry's ad up in the yellow pages.

Date Posted: 10/29/2012 10:54 PM ET
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Was just watching the latest episode of Haven, they slip in references from King's books and this one had a Salem's Lot reference, specifically Marsten road.
Barb S. (okbye) - ,
Date Posted: 10/30/2012 2:29 PM ET
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I haven't seen any of the Saw movies, just know of them from culture references mainly. When I had cancer years ago I just had radiation, which sucks but is nowhere near as bad as chemo. I was lucky if I could get out of bed some days much less terrorize anyone. Dresden Files was a good one, but that's the next discussion. 

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