Wolves of the Calla
by Stephen King
- Date Finished: July 25, 2012
- Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
- Year: 2003
- Project: n/a
- Reading List: Summer 2012
- Quick thoughts upon finishing: While I was reading Wolves of the Calla, I couldn’t help but think how much it reminded me of Wizard and Glass. The Dark Tower books are a strange series; each one doesn’t necessarily come with it’s own canned adventure. I mean, they do. But so much of the Dark Tower series is meant to be part of a larger story — snapshots of what is an epic journey. The Drawing of the Three takes place over a few weeks, and mainly serves to introduce Eddie and Susannah. The Waste Lands involes a whole lot of walking around, letting the readers observe and perhaps begin to understand the universe they’ve found themselves.
- Don’t get me wrong, those stories are fine. Roland’s ka-tet can’t be having nice packaged adventures every other day, because that’s not how quests happen. I haven’t been on one lately, but I can imagine it’s pretty boring at times. Or, the action happens when you least expect it: like when you’re just chilling in the woods and a giant robotic bear tries to eat you. I mean, who can predict that?
- The Wizard and Glass is different because it is a tidy, little adventure story — with a beginning, middle and end — but only because it’s a tale from long ago. It’s a story because Roland is framing it as one as he’s telling it. What’s actually happening in “real time” while they hear this story? Roland’s buddies are just hanging out in some Twilight zone-version of Topeka, Kansas.
- This is why Wolves of the Calla is different. It’s different because it’s the only Dark Tower story with a defined beginning, middle and end. Roland and Co. arrive in Calla Bryn Sturgis, learn that scary wolves have been stealing children for generations (“the problem”), so they agree to stick around and help save their kiddies (“solve the problem”). It’s refreshing to have a story like this, because it gives readers a chance to see our characters apart from their quest. We see Jake making a friend. We see Eddie turning into a charming diplomat-gunslinger. We see Susannah kick total ass as a warrior. We also see Roland struggling with his leadership, coming to grips with his own weaknesses and figuring out ways to overcome them. This is also what happens in The Wizard and Glass, though that story was about Roland and his growth. This story was about the growth of Roland’s ka-tet — how far they’ve come.
- Of course, there are various strings to the story that connect with that “bigger picture” that I spoke of. Meeting up with Father Callahan, of Salem’s Lot fame, for one. Discovering the value of the rose. The vacant lot in New York. The realization that something bigger is going on. But there’s a lot to Wolves of the Calla, and I liked it this second time around. However, I’m not going to lie: it definitely leaves you with some cliffhangers and I’ve already started Song of Susannah before even writing this. Sorry folks.
- Grade: A
And some other odds and ends
If you check back with this blog with any regularity, you’ll probably notice that I haven’t been posting as much anymore outside of book reviews. I’ve given dozens of excuses, and I could give dozens more, but I’m not going to bother. What I like about blogging FOR MYSELF — not as my job, not for anyone else — is that I can really do anything I want with Paperback Fool. I can write every other day. I can post recipes when and if I feel like it. I can re-post literary news I find.
Or, I don’t have to. I can simply use this space for what I originally intended — to write about books. When I read them. Because frankly, I don’t read as much as I used to. It’s hard to say that, but I guess it’s the unintended consequence of a time-consuming job and near-constant wedding planning. And roller derby. And exploring new things. And having a social life.
I still wish I could read all the time — and I probably would if given the chance. But I’m not going to kill myself with guilt because I don’t have the time to read 20 books a month, including classics, new releases and everything in between. This summer has been pretty hectic, so I’ve enjoyed re-reading all the Dark Tower books. So what if I haven’t read anything new? So what if I haven’t read anything impressive? The Dark Tower is pleasure reading x 10 for me, and you know, that’s what I need right now.
So along those lines, I’m just going to say that I won’t be posting “Up Nexts” for the duration of my Dark Tower reading marathon. Usually I’m so enthralled in the story, that when I finish one I immediately pick up the next.