The Dark Tower VII: WTF?

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around Stephen King’s Dark Tower finale and seventh book in the series, The Dark Tower, but I will try. I will admit I haven’t been this eager to talk about a book in a long time.

Imagine, if you will, William Shakespeare writing the novelization of the Star Wars sequels, particularly Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. I am not saying Shakespeare would have written the screenplay. No, no, the story would be the same, but the words used to convey it would be his. Who’s Supreme Leader Snoke / The Crimson King? Who knows! How does Emperor Palpatine return? Doesn’t matter! As long as you don’t think about it, The Rise of Skywalker and The Dark Tower are great stories.

OK, I am being unfair to Stephen King because this analogy doesn’t consider that The Dark Tower is the author’s baby, a work of pure artistic passion. It’s not as if King stole his book from another author just to tack on his own incoherent ending. Secondly, King may not have wanted to make sense from the start because The Dark Tower has never been Sci-Fi or fantasy. From the get-go, the books in the series possess a dreamlike quality, an Alice in Wonderland kind of surrealism, where logic takes a back seat to emotion, and this is where King’s magnum opus excels, at getting the reader to feel things. As long as you don’t think too much about it, The Dark Tower succeeds at what it sets out to do. In fact, King knocks it out of the park. But it is without question a very, very strange story — and I have no doubt it would turn off many readers expecting a more traditional tale. See, you have to come into the Dark Tower with a very open mind (so open your brains just might fall out) and whether that’s the mark of true genius or just very poor plotting is something I haven’t quite figured out yet. But if there is a prime example of write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fiction, this is it. The Dark Tower is the literary equivalent of Picasso; you can hate it, love it, or just come away scratching your head in confusion — or, as in my case, fall somewhere between all three.

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