Saturday, November 06, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 84

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
by Stephen King

The Girl Who Loved Tom GordonThe Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is a small novel. Not only is it a short novel, a little larger than a novella, but it is small in scope. At least compared to many of the works of its author, Stephen King, who has been known to pen many a lengthy tale, sometimes into the thousands of pages.

I read an interview with King once in which he said something along the line that he wrote two types of novels, one with the focus upon a single character and another which focused upon many characters.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon focuses upon one character, 9-year-old Trisha. The plot is quite simple. During a hiking trip with her mother and brother, Trisha becomes lost in the deep woods. Her story is one of survival.

But it's also a bit more than that. For an adult, this would be a story about madness, the madness of facing one's imminent death while stranded in an isolated place with little food, water, shelter or protection of any kind. For Trisha, the tale borders on madness, but is more about a child's willingness to adapt and overcome one's own fears.

This is by no means one of King's most popular novels. In truth, I've run across a number of his fans who detest this book. I'm not one of them. Actually, I think it's one of the best things he wrote in the 1990s, the book itself having been released in 1999.

Why do I like this book so much? Despite the darkness it sinks into, especially concerning a child, it is in the end one of the most uplifting tales I've ever read. It is about the spirit of survival in all of us, a spirit of survival that focuses upon the humanity in all of us, not because of ties to any particular nation or religion or what-have-you. It is a novel of high spirits, of the links that can bring all of us together as human beings.

That is why I love this book.

And since it concerns a child, I'll let the reader know that despite the horrific elements of this tale, it is one most appropriate to a child. Should you read it to your own kid? Well, read it yourself and judge for yourself. I personally wouldn't have a problem reading it to a 10-year-old, but I tend to think kids are much more versatile than most of us give them credit. But then, I don't have kids of my own, so who am I to say?

Oh, and if you need to know who Tom Gordon is, he was a professional baseball player, at one time a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, of which King is a huge fan. And yes, he is quite important to this story. Not as a character, but as a figure of myth, as someone to believe in, almost as an Arthurian figure in some ways, or perhaps a Merlin figure would be more appropriate.

Up next: Foundation

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Much of the time we seem to be sympatico on books, but not in this case. I really didn't care for this book at all. It was short but I think the content was really a short story and would have been better at just a few thousand words. I thought I would have gotten caught up by the character but it didn't happen. Maybe too much else was going on in my life at the time.