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"Tad could hear the coathangers jingling softly, talking about Daddy in their coathanger language...",
This review is from: Cujo (Paperback)
CUJO is the famous story of the huge great St.Bernard dog, who having contracted rabies from some poorly bats who bit his nose, lays siege to Donna and Tad Trenton in their broken down car. The story is simple, but King develops his characters well, and the supporting cast get full histories, outlooks and characterisations. Donna and Vic Trenton are married but in trouble - Vic has work problems and Donna has just ended a messy affair, which the other party gleefully informs Vic about. Tad, their four year old son, is scared of monsters in his closet, and isn't happy about Daddy having to go away on a business trip. Their car, a knackered old Pinto, is giving up the ghost and in dire need of some tinkering. Old Joe Camber lives on the outskirts of Castle Rock; he's a cheap but reliable mechanic. His wife is scared of him, and when she unexpectedly wins a packet on the lottery she takes her son on a little family interstate trip. Joe is left alone with his drunken pervert friend Gary from next door, and his sons huge dog Cujo to keep him company. Events conspire to that final simple occurrence; Donna and Tad trapped in a dead Pinto, outside Joe's garage while a disoriented, pained and very confused dog is getting very angry at everything.
Its not just the human characters that King draws well but Cujo himself is painted in a very sympathetic manner; before the disease Cujo is a big loveable furry heap of a dog, a huge gentle giant, but illness makes him hurt, makes his head pound, makes him confused. Cujo is not the villain here, the villain is rabies, and the villain is fate; the day-to-day living with the card you were dealt, and how twists and turns of fate can affect many others inextricably linked with your destiny.
Alledgedly King wrote most of this book while off his face on various hard drugs and booze but while it does wander a bit, its still a fairly grounded piece of Castle Rock mythology, and occasionally the writing shines. I loved a little line, early on, when Vic is checking in Tad's closet for monsters and "Tad could hear the coathangers jingling softly, talking about Daddy in their coathanger language." I think that's great. I never really considered reading CUJO a while ago, much like I still don't really fancy SALEM'S LOT or CHRISTINE, but CUJO turned out to be read ahead of some other choices simply because it was small enough to fit into my pocket to read on the way to the hospital to see my dying father. Its quite a tight book, smaller than Kings usual behemoths, and really engaging, especially in the last third. I also enjoyed just the Castle Rock people - the mailman, the serial killer from last decade, the old woman who can predict the weather - and the atmosphere; I'm hugely interested in reading more of the Castle Rock chronicles, preferably when its out of season.