In September, I suggested a reading order for the extended universe of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, a series I loved, but hadn't read any of since Volume 7: The Dark Tower came out in 2004. I realized that I missed the characters from the series, and wondered if the reading order I suggested would really hold someone's interest all the way through. I scoured some local bookstores, and then the internet for the hardcovers of the books, and prepared for my quest to read a Super Long series of books.
In a helpful accident, the next portion of the Dark Tower chronology is a short story that is back to back with the previous version. I say it's an accident because Everything's Eventual the collection was arranged by shuffling a deck of cards. Lucky happenstance. It's not going to be apparent, even when you are finished that this is a Dark Tower story, but it's A Very Good Stephen King short story, and I found it to be the fastest read int he chronology so far.
I was expected to go to college right out of high school, so I did. But after one terrible semester, I moved back home...ish. I say home...ish because I moved into a condo that my mother owned but did not live in.
I immediately enrolled in the community college near me, and started a series of odd jobs: an after school program, managing a CD store, managing a liquor store, stage managing in a local theater, waiting tables, teaching swimming lessons. I had various spheres of friends who I would occasionally intersect into Venn Diagram parties that were sometimes epically fun, and sometimes just resulted in an epic cleaning project.
I never knew precisely what I was doing, but I always ended up doing something that I found interesting. And apart from a one-day stint as a telemarketer, I never felt morally repulsed by what I had to do for money.
"Everything's Eventual", the title story from this collection follows a high school dropout from his life working a menial job to a morally quagmirous job that allows him to live a comfortable life on his own.
It's not a horror story. It doesn't have a Western or apocalyptic motif. As I said in the preface, you might wonder how this ties into The Dark Tower at all. Trust me. You will see this character again. Eventually.
Unlike in The Eyes Of The Dragon, I don't insert this book into the chronology purely because the character shows up later. I think this is a solid story, and it's tonally different from everything that's come before it, and anything you're going to see for a while.
If you've ever been young, unsure of what you were doing in your life, and had an opportunity that seems to good to be true dropped into your lap, you will likely identify with a portion of this story. If you haven't, you can probably at least understand being young and doing a questionable job for money. Though, hopefully, not to the extent of Dinky's job.
-- There are a couple of scenes in this book which could portray a secondary character as creepy. I think it's to King's credit that the protagonist tells the reader straight up that he understands how the action could be perceived as creepy, but it wasn't creepy to him. It's especially helpful since the protagonist is problematic about sexuality in a total believable suburban teenager in the late 20th/early 21st century way. Unlike the racist language in The Stand, the problematic language is spare and is clearly to illustrate that this protagonist is not a piece-of-shit homophobe, he's just ignorant and has zero world experience.
-- If I had the power this kid has, and was offered the life that this job offers, I would probably have taken it, too. I, too, was an idiot when I was a teenager.
-- I'm slightly annoyed at how long it's going to be before this story is super relevant to the chronology, but trust me, it's best to read this now since it starts the page after "The Little Sisters Of Eluria", and reinforces that there are going to be powers in this universe. It's highly suggested that there regular humans have some powers in The Stand, but this is a very specific power that will be an important part of the later Dark Tower books.
--Pffft....54 pages? That's the shortest hop yet. We're 1,640 pages into this beast. But who's counting?