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On revisiting novels

I'm coming to view the novel as an old friend, not that I haven't before. Novels are like those folks you meet in the grocery store one afternoon that you haven't seen in years, the ones whose new hairstyles and slimmer or thicker figures are immediately evident. You think you know them on the surface, but upon revisitation, you realise so much you missed. You come across a detail that makes so much more sense now, in this later context, than it did the first time you read it. The thicker waistline is a clear indicator that you paid more attention to the surface meaning upon your first acquaintance.

So it goes with King's The Stand. I haven't read it since I was 15, a ... hmm ... little while ago. Sure, when you're 15 and holding a 1,000+ page novel, you're going to miss some things. You're likely to miss the subtleties, particularly the little ways in which the author maintains continuity (strawberry rhubarb pie, anyone?). You will likely disregard names as names and nothing more. Imagine the wonder I'm faced with now, a few handfuls of years later, when returning to King's post-Apocalyptic dystopia. I'm pleased to report that now, halfway through, I've moved on to less casual conversation with said old friend and have reached the "Oh, really?" stage of conversation.

It's times like this when I think to myself what impact children's novels of yore would have upon me were I to read them now through adult eyes. I did that with Tolkien when Peter Jackson blessed us with the fabulous trilogy, but had much the same level of fascination then as I had originally as a child. So, too, with L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, which held up well after childhood. Would the same still apply to Blume? Cleary? O'Dell? I wonder.

I can see it all now:

"And you have two kids now, I see? Well, congratulations! I can't believe it's been that long since we last spoke."