Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Cujo

This entry is part 98 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

Since this challenge began, from when I picked that first book (Lisey’s Story, though that ended up being the second I read), I would collect the chosen book from wherever it lay on the shelf, then, once I had finished, place it back in reading order, or get rid of it.

I was quite militant about this early on, getting rather stressed when a book would not fit at the end of a row, sometimes pulling the lot out and shoving them with all my might to make it work. When this would not work, I fell into a mad panic.

The worst it got was when I read the Buffy scripts. They should have fallen on the fourth shelf down of my bookshelf but, alas, they were too tall. No amount of pushing and shoving would get them in place unless I wanted to lie them flat, cut them in half, or put them in the charity shop pile.

I considered the last, to avoid the headache, lame as that seems.

Other issues came when I had a series of books that would not fit on one row. Again this scenario gave me nightmares, especially with series like The Dark Tower, which has “The Dark Tower” written across the spines of the books, or Game of Thrones, which comes in a box. Splitting these was an abhorrent thought. Even now, remembering it sends shivers down my spine.

In the end, I found a way to lax my policy of placing books back in reading order, prioritising keeping series together (as though they were families seeking sanctuary after fleeing a war-torn country) and keeping books on shelves that fit them.

My problem is I like ordering things. I find a lot of fun in moving books this way and that and, after 18 months of this challenge and putting books in one order; I was getting sick of it. I wanted something new.

Upon finishing Cujo, I took the books left in this challenge from the shelf and put them on my bedside table. Here’s a picture.

Start note.

You may wonder why there are lots of Harry Potter, Zom-B and Caxton books missing. It’s not a mistake; I am no longer reviewing books in the order I read them.

I did go through that in another blog, why weren’t you paying more attention?

End Note.

But even that wasn’t enough of a change, and now, when I should have been writing this blog on this beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, I finally gave in, and did what I’ve been thinking about for a while.

I ordered my shelf by genre (general fiction, mystery & thriller, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, then the same again in the same order, for kids/YA.

That was fun, though of course, it caused more stress when I couldn’t get all my Stephen King’s on one shelf. Or when I had to split Darren’s Shan’s Demonata series across two rows.

It’s sad, but I like the effect, the look of it. I am not displeased with how the organising has gone.

And now, with frequent glances left towards the bookshelf which sits right beside my shelf, we can move into talking about Cujo, and the blogs that came before.

Stephen King

Standard note. I have spoken a lot about Stephen King in my other Stephen King blogs (especially the earlier ones on the list below) and would hate for you to miss that. Check them out now and, while you do, I’m going to go wash up a wok and make myself a coffee.


All done?

You’ll notice I saw how many blogs there were for you to get through and so played a bit of Football Manager as well as washing the pan and getting myself a coffee.

I’m good like that.

Anyway, now we’re back, let’s talk about Cujo, the story of a kind dog who sticks his head into a rabbit hole and gets bitten by bats with rabies.

The book covers three storylines which King links to various degrees.

First, and most famous, there is the story of Donna and her toddler Tad, who go to a local garage just outside of town to get their car fixed, only for Cujo, the rabies-ridden dog, to strand them in the car with his determination to kill them.

Second, there is the story of Vic, husband to Donna, father to Tad, who has had to go away on business to save his small ad agency from being dropped by a far larger company.

Finally, there is Charity and her son Brett, wife and son of the dog’s owner, Joe. Having won the state lottery and made 5k, Charity takes her son to see her well off sister, afraid that otherwise, he will turn into her husband, who is sometimes abusive and always a dick.

As with all King books, he writes all three storylines beautifully, creating well-drawn characters and tension cranking suspense.

Unlike many thrillers running parallel storylines, however, they do not all intersect.

Donna and Vic’s stories do. With Vic learning his wife is missing, coming back for her, and eventually arriving right after her showdown with Cujo.

Charity’s, on the other hand only has the briefest involvement with Donna’s. Her winning the lottery gets her and her son out of the way, allowing Donna’s story to happen, and Donna’s showdown with Cujo has lasting implications on both the mother and boy, but that is all. Mainly their story is about Charity trying to save Brett from becoming his father while worrying it is too late. It is a good story in its own right but almost feels as though it was added to add pages to what otherwise would have been a book about as long as Carrie, something King appears none too keen to repeat.

Despite how well written this book was, the truth was I found a lot of it skippable. All the scenes with Charity and Brett seemed pointless, and the same went for Vic, too. While the main story – Donna trapped with her son, in a car, by a rabid dog – was mostly, exciting, but occasionally dragged. Long periods passed where Donna was fading in and out of delirium, considering what she might do without really doing anything.

All of this made the book good, a solid three out of five, but nothing I would go back to in a hurry.

Having said that, it is worth mentioning what this book followed in terms of what I’ve read by King.

The two that preceded it – The Dead Zone and Firestarter – I found outstanding, take your breath away type books. Neither was I expecting to like and both shot up into, perhaps, my top ten favourite books of all time.

These two subversions of my expectation led me to think Cujo, too, was going to be brilliant and so led to yet another subversion of expectation as it was only good, rather than outstanding.

For that reason, I perhaps judge it too harshly, and I wonder if I might have enjoyed it more had it of been the first King book I read.

I guess we’ll never know.

Next Time

Next time it is the final King book I have to read for this challenge, but it’s not Christine, the next novel he wrote, or Different Seasons, the novella collection which came out between them.

No, instead I’ll be looking at On Writing, his book on the craft of writing, as well as an autobiography of his early years.

See you for that.

Series Navigation<< Man vs Bookshelf: FirestarterMan vs Bookshelf: On Writing >>
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International worst-selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). An author of mystery and suspense novels including the James Perry Series of mysteries.

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