a larky tribute to The Princess Bride

Many of us have returned to our favorite childhood read during lockdown – I found a healthy dose of Tintin or Billy Bunter did wonders for my balance – so it’s no surprise that some writers have suffered a similar regression in their work. Stephen King has said his 65th novel is the book he wrote to get through the pandemic: a fairy tale set in a mysterious land populated by wolves, mermaids and giant crickets. It features a child-eating giant, a malevolent dwarf, a beautiful princess living incognito as a herder of geese, and plenty of breathtaking escapes and battles between good and evil.

Just the book, then, for readers who can’t wait to escape to another world – except they’ll have to. We’re nearly a third into this novel (and, while not by King’s standards, it’s a long book) before the narrator, 17-year-old Charlie Reade, leaves our world. for the magical land of Empis. . Before that, Charlie nonchalantly tells us (“I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating” is a characteristic expression) about the death of his mother when he was eight, and his descent into hooliganism, while that his father, the latest in King’s long line of drink-defeated honest men, was spending his days dazed.

Eventually, Charlie turns to prayer, promising to recover if his father is saved, and the next day, Alcoholics Anonymous – the answer to King’s prayers in real life, and those of many characters in his later fiction – intervenes. his end of the bargain by taking on caring duties for Mr. Bowditch, a grumpy, reclusive resident of his small Illinois hometown, after the old boy breaks his leg. Their friendship unfolds slowly and realistically, with only the odd noises coming from Mr. Bowditch’s shed as a hint of the dramatic change in narrative style to come.

Not before time, Mr. Bowditch reveals his secret: his cabin is built on a barricaded gate leading to Empis, and if Charlie can escort Radar, Bowditch’s ailing German Shepherd, to the magic age-reversing sundial in the city of Lalimar, he can restore the dog to health. So Charlie and Radar make the long journey, encountering many disfigured refugees, some holding dead babies (this fairy tale is far from PG), who have been stricken with the “gray curse” inflicted on Empis by its evil ruler and illegal. Could Charlie be the long prophesied prince of a distant land who will return the land to his people?

This novel is a shred and patch thing, borrowing from the Brothers Grimm, Treasure Island, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and even Ray Bradbury (who, by implication, came up with the idea of his age-reversal carousel in Something Wicked This Way Comes from a visit to Empis). There’s a splendid climactic battle written in a parody of HP Lovecraft’s irresistibly overworked prose.

The article is in French

. tribute larky Princess Bride

. larky tribute Princess Bride

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