Monday, October 27, 2014
Author: Stephen King
Judging by the last time I used the "Read Anything Good Lately" tag on the blog, one would assume I had not picked up a book since December of 2012. Maybe I figured, if the Mayans were right about the end of the world, why read anymore?
Let me assure you, I have continued to read. I'm still literate. There are many books that I've read in the last two years that I just haven't chosen to share on the blog. Not that I'm ashamed of having read those books. Except maybe for Pride & Prejudice. Try as I might, I can't erase that one from my memory. You can keep your Jane Austen.
I was willing to continue keeping my thoughts to myself when it comes to what I've read. But then I came across the Cujo book. As I've mentioned before, one of my bucket list items is to read everything written by Stephen King. Kind of a tall order since the guy's written about 90 thousand books. And he's not stopping. People have talked a lot about Under the Dome, which was published just a few years ago. Keep your pants on, people! I'm still a long way from that one. Because my plan is to read his novels in publication order.
So anyway, Cujo... Being first published in 1981, it's a little dated. For those of you who are unaware, the book is about a dog who is bitten by a rabid bat and, therefore, becomes rabid himself. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Cujo goes on something of a mad killing spree. There are a lot of tiny little coincidences that seem to happen which place the main characters, Donna Trenton and her son Tad, in a stalled car in Cujo's front yard. They end up trapped there for several of the hottest days on record while Cujo waits for them to exit their nonworking vehicle.
As I made my way through the book, I couldn't help but wonder, could something like this still happen? Now, I'm not aware of anything like this actually happening in real life. I don't recall ever hearing any news stories growing up about a rabid dog that killed several people while leaving a mother and child to starve and dehydrate in their car. But that doesn't mean that Stephen King did not paint a realistic picture of a monstrous St. Bernard and the circumstances which allowed for Donna and Tad to be trapped in the summer of 1981. But could King write the same story set in a modern world?
Here we are, 33 years later, and a lot has changed. Cars still have problems. That's not something that's likely to ever change. In 1981, Vic, Donna's husband, suggested taking the car to a local guy who could fix the carburetor for a reasonable price. Joe Camber lived just outside of town, not too far away when compared to the dealership that was the next town over. In 2014, I have no doubt that there are still guys like that. Guys that set up shop in their own personal garages outside the town limits and cut deals with people to fix up their cars for them. So, yeah, that could still happen.
In 1981, Vic left his wife and son to go on an emergency business trip. He was traveling from their home in Maine down to Boston and then to New York City to try and save his small advertising firm when their one big account has some serious PR issues. In 2014, emergency business trips come up all the time, I'm sure. But back then, Vic had to worry about long distance charges when he wanted to call and check up on his family. And when you're worried that your business is about to go under, you're watching every dime you spend. These days, no one deals with long distance, unless you're talking about calling another country. In the book, when Vic waited a few days to call Donna, it was understandable. In 2014, he'd have called as soon as his plane touched down, just to let her know he arrived in Boston all right.
That brings me to another advance in technology: cell phones. Everyone's got one now. I'm sure 4-year-old Tad would even have one, if only to play Angry Birds to keep him occupied once in a while. But even in 2014, you can't always find a signal for your phone. If Donna takes her car out to some guy's personal garage, there's no guarantee she'll have good reception. And then, once her car is completely dead, she has no way to recharge her phone once the battery dies.
You don't often hear about cases of rabies these days. But when they occur, it's usually serious enough to make the local news. I think the events of Cujo would be less likely to happen at this point in the 21st century than they were in the early 80s, but they could still happen. The only real difference would be the long distance thing. Vic would have called and become somewhat panicked a little sooner. He would have gotten the police involved more quickly and it's very likely that Tad wouldn't have died of dehydration. I'm kidding, Stephen King wouldn't kill off a 4-year-old kid. Or would he?