Monday, June 21, 2010

Insomnia / by Stephen King

Something is definitely wrong with Ralph Roberts. He keeps waking up earlier and earlier, unable to fall back asleep. He first noticed he'd get up around 5:30, progressively finding himself awake at an earlier time until he now routinely stops sleeping anywhere between 2 and 4 AM. The clinical term is insomnia, or, in some of the books premature waking. Whatever it's called, it keeps getting worse for Ralph, a retired widower who's lived all his life in Derry, Maine. The constant wakefulness isn't the only oddity in Ralph's life. There's something strange going on with his neighbors, specifically Ed Deepneau, a once endearing, mild-mannered soul whose pretty wife and young daughter had been such a comfort to Ralph's late wife Martha during the last months of her cancer. But now Ed is someone entirely different. The gentle-hearted Ed has turned into a ranting, raving hate-monger, a man who's become enraged with malevolence at the new abortion clinic in town and has, on a recent occasion (though it's likely not the only time), beaten his wife nearly to death, something Ralph still can't get over.
Still not sleeping, Ralph becomes aware of some even stranger occurrences like eerie sounds at night accompanied by an odd, unexplained glow hovering near certain people and places. It's evident that there's something wicked and inhuman concentrated in Derry. When the situation with Ed reaches a climax, an event sparking a tirade of violence and destruction, Ralph knows that it's only a matter of time before the evil presence inhabiting Derry dooms everyone. He also knows that he, along with his loyal friend Lois Chasse, another neighbor (and widow), are the only ones who can, and must find a way to stop the horror overtaking the town.
King returns to Derry in this admirable novel of good vs. evil. The setting of such other of his works as It, Bag of Bones and The Tommynockers, Derry is one place in King's universe where you can always count on a good tale. Characterization is the real draw with King's novels and Ralph represents another of the author's most fully developed characters, a man preselected for doing battle with the forces of evil. Recurring themes of dualism and moral relativism are prevalent and readers will recognize many of the same conditions existing in King's previous horror classics are present here. (FIC KING)

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