Does for retail what Orwell did for government,
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This review is from: The Store (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a great book, I've never read any of Bentley Little's books and this was the first, I can safely say that I will try his other books now and think I'll reread this one.
The book works on a number of levels, there's a horror dimension which keeps the reader guessing right the way through and is never spelt out properly in black and white, although I felt it was pretty clear and didnt need to be spelt out.
There's also a narrative on market power and market forces in a way also, a store rolls into small town America, before long more than 90% of the population are completely dependent upon the store for ALL their needs, then the store begins to create/encourage fresh needs, cater to unsavoury needs or vices, Store personnel move from buying of local politicians to outright seizing power and pushing a privatisation agenda that guarantees them absolute power.
I've heard people complain about this book, infact its part of what inspired an interest for me, that they felt it was an anti-establishment screed and that Little was horror writer turned dystopian and couldnt quite carry it off.
That's not what I thought at all, I think he carried it off well, it did make me think he was doing for retail what Orwell did for government without failing to write a pacy, engaging horror story. I know a lot of people who have entrenched views about market forces only ever being a servant, never the master, it's likely they'll hate this book or consider it too far fetched or extreme but I'd ask them to check their ideological blinkers for just a moment.
I kept thinking of Needful Things the whole time that I read this book but I think that this is superior in a lot of ways to Stephen King's version of devilry and temptation. Anyone who liked Needful Things will probably like this too.
The initial chapter and final page or two epilogue can be skipped and are pretty superfulous, its a narrative style or trick which diminishes an otherwise great book, there wasnt the need for the all to obvious cliff hanger.
This is a small complaint though, there is a lot of bizarre, sexualised and gross out content, I think this was pretty much in tune with some of the themes of corruption, vice and temptation, in the way that sado-masochistic themes feature in the Hellraiser films and some of Barker's fiction.
There's only one truly stomach churning sequence which made for difficult reading, which I seriously suspect would have shattered the psyche of anyone in real life but is quickly dealt with and doesnt halt a pretty mundane and anti-climatic beginning of the end.
All in all a fantastic read, although since Little succeeded in so convincingly conjuring up insurmountable odds and dystopic developments its hard to see how he then pulls the pan out of the fire and carrys on with the story.