Customer Review

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well, gee, why not a haunted PortaLoo?, 2 Oct. 2005
This review is from: From a Buick 8 (Hardcover)
Perhaps Stephen King wrote FROM A BUICK 8 after gagging on too many installments of the way-too-cute HERBIE THE LOVE BUG film series.
Here, it's 1979 Pennsylvania, and a vintage 1954 Buick Roadmaster in pristine condition is left behind at a rural gas station by a sinister man dressed in black, who subsequently disappears. Troop D of the State Police is called to investigate, and, while it never finds the man in black, its officers discover that the Buick is exceedingly curious. For one, the car is self-cleaning; dirt doesn't stick. For another, it's incapable of running: there are no battery cables, generator, alternator, distributor, or distributor cap; the control knobs on the dash aren't functional; the steering wheel doesn't turn. Anyway, Troop D impounds the vehicle, locks it in a shed, and keeps it the Troop's private secret. But the Buick isn't quiescent. Periodically it drops the temperature in the shed, erupts into a fiery display of violet light, and spits otherworldy plants and creatures out of the trunk, which decompose and die in a matter of minutes. Occasionally, test animals and insects left in the shed disappear - as did Trooper Ennis Rafferty. Trooper Curtis Wilcox becomes obsessed with the nature of the Buick. After Curtis is killed in 2001 by a drunk driver, his teenage son Ned becomes the Troop's mascot, so to speak. The plot of FROM A BUICK 8 cycles back and forth from "then" to "now", as Ned is told the story of the Buick, still isolated and perfect in its shed, and his father's obsession.
The biggest problem with this book is the length - it's a long short story or novella run amok to 351 pages. Though King throws out enough weirdness every once in awhile to perhaps keep the reader interested, I got the impression that he (or his publisher) just prolonged a mediocre storyline to justify its publication as a full length novel, with a novel's exorbitant cover price. (I bought it used on the cheap from a third party seller. Neener, neener, neeeener!) In any case, FROM A BUICK 8 lurches along to a relatively unsatisfyng ending that I began to anticipate halfway though the book, when it became difficult to summon the interest and energy to continue reading. The dodgy Buick might just as well have been a haunted PortaLoo or microwave oven for all I finally cared. After all, both have doors that creepy things can pop out of unsuspected.
If you're a speed reader and can finish this novel at one sitting - say, on a cross-country flight - then it may be better than the over-edited in-flight movie or the dog-eared airline mag in the seat pocket. Otherwise, I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it.
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