30 thoughts on “The Outsider – Stephen King

    July 14th

    1 – 3
    “, one with a foot on a scuffed orange skateboard,…”

    We watch, we watch others watch, as police watch and wait, watch the accretion of evidence against someone who did the boy in with a branch up his bum, a beagle barking, too, called, Dave, to sort of match the branch’s bark.
    Is King, I ask, responsible for the way the world is today? Not so much because of ordinary folk going off kilter to kill, as observed here, but these folk starting to go off kilter after reading King thinking about them doing so and telling us so brilliantly and incisively that we believed it? That we are not ordinary folk at all?


  2. 4 – 7

    “What color was the van?”

    I am trying not to adumbrate the plot here, at least no further than the back cover blurb readable above. For fear of plot spoilers.
    Yet, I sense something special going on here and I plan to track its hidden audit trails. For example the colours. “…that awful carroty red” hair of the witnesses. Perhaps the cover of the book I own is not as orange as the POTUS, but rather carroty red. Looking at it again, that seems feasible. But later in these sections we have “an orange license plate.” And a toolbox that is a “long green thing.” And “We use different colors for different countries,” — and a “bloody nose”. Even the OUTSIDER title has RED backwards as earlier in a King Book we had REDRUM. And, yes, the van’s colour would be white, if washed. Meanwhile, outside of colours or even the fading aroma of enchiladas, I am captivated, as ever, by a King book’s build up of character in time and place, as well as by the plot: here, the circumstances of the apparent alibi given.

  3. 8 – 15

    “The lemon’s the secret, you know.”

    Unless I have to do so, I won’t now continue to harp on about this book’s oranges and lemons, and its various other colours, like the green Subaru sought in connection with the crime. Instead I shall simply infer that the ‘bold’ interrogations by the police continue with various parties, and I shall simply refer eclectically to other things, like the pregnant detective described with the expression “malignant surrealism”!
    Also, some of those interrogated seem to add glib irrelevant comments to their official answers as part of making them seem…, well, I am not sure. Why, for example, is the downstairs bathroom, recently built by the sole suspect, important to be mentioned by his wife as part of her answer when under such stress. Thinking about it, it is probably a safety valve FOR stress?

    “, but I think the shirt was yellow.”

  4. 16 – 23

    “…how to run a double reverse,”

    Compelling stuff, paralleling today’s gestalt of impossible polarities in politics and world affairs and religion/philosophy and magical thinking… where immovable objects meet irresistible forces, incontrovertible evidence versus incontrovertible evidence versus the facts themselves or Trump’s fake news? Baseball moves, notwithstanding. While factoring in not a Masonic handshake but a pinky nail for coke, an Alfafa cowlick, a “long haul”, “Yellow shirt, bluejeans”, the “due process dance”, “loose bark” and the worst possible murder conceivable. All manner of forensic substances painted on coloured clothes, no doubt. And a crime fiction convention not to mention its autograph queue for someone called Coben, not Corbyn. How to run a double reverse.

  5. SORRY
    July 14th – July 15th

    1 – 5

    “a gray area”, “eye-wits”, “golly-willikers”, “a syncope”…believable repercussions and further investigations and characters like, for me, accretions of snowballs rolling down a hill, or up it? One scene in particular, the deceased boy’s family have a do with Italian food for sympathising friends, then suddenly the mother’s suspected syncope, what the hell, what a hill! I suspect the author had a similar syncope when trying to justify this narration of this do with food; why does he find himself having such a fit when trying to justify his own imagination’s own fit? The golly-willikers of a King novel and whoever and/or whatever is said to have written it… and to have read it. The ultimate eye-wit; the ultimate grey area, to use the English spelling. Who’s outside it, who isn’t?

  6. 6 – 12

    “She considered this. ‘Unstoppable force meets immoveable object.’”
    A bit later than me to come up with that analogy! But better late than never?
    “the old stone hotel,” “the S on Superman’s chest,” “up in Spuytenkill,” “blue scrubs and a sweat-stained blue surgical cap”…
    At least with real books like this one with rough paper pages you can’t easily move the dial along to reach the more interesting bits as you can on a video. They’re all interesting bits, in any event.

  7. 13 – 20

    “blue suit […] white shirt and blue tie,” “prisoners in brown jumpsuits,” “purple birthmark,” “lollygagging,” “Color had risen in his cheeks,” “old red address book,” “splitsville,” “red hair,”…

    “, then once again picked the book up using just his palms, holding it out like a chalice.”

    … and that reference — to a book hardly anyone had earlier touched in a bookshop and the earlier reference in this review that I made unilaterally about the act of moving the e-dial along being impossible with a real book and its rough paper pages — gives me a strong sense that there is something ‘magical’ going on in this book, just as the immoveable object versus the irresistible force element of its evidential crime fiction plot is magical, too. This book itself and the crime it describes are magical in different ways. The crime plot is and has always been inside the conscious control of the author, while the book as eventual independent gestalt — only now being uncovered piecemeal in the preternaturally autonomous workings of this real-time review — is arguably outside the author’s control. Yes, outside.

  8. 06D18A42-AA5E-455F-829C-3616B192E493THE ARRAIGNMENT
    July 16th

    “Howie Gold,” “colorful plastic boxes,” “bright accusatory yellow,” “the double vision,” “‘faux’ alligator, and red.,” “roll of pink fat,” “yellow kerchief,” yellow bra strap, “all white teeth and red satin lining.,” “fading red letters,”

    “There was no forest, only trees. At its worst, there were no trees, either. Just bark.”

    I went to Rendlesham Forest a few hours before reading this section that includes the quotes above; my photo there today is shown alongside. Now shocked by what happens towards the end of this section. No way I can give you a clue as to what happens. Or any further clues. What is left to me are the colours. This real-time review is probably dead. While the book my review is reviewing continues to live and breathe within my reading mind….

    • Amazingly, later this evening, just by chance finished watching Polanski’s Repulsion on Amazon Prime and noticed the credits at the end contained the character’s name of Mrs Rendlesham!

    July 18th – July 20th

    1 – 12

    “Footsteps in the Sand.”

    A nuthatch or sparrow, and a branch with bark whence to hang dead or dying? A twelve year old boy who alone took a series of stolen vehicles across the country? The woman’s footsteps that ended inexplicably in the dune or series of dunes (cross-reference to this earlier in Evenson today and, personally for me, even earlier, in the same link, the ‘Woman in the Dunes’)? The bugs impossibly within the cantaloupe? And we all perhaps wonder if Fortean means strong – or, rather, weak – in the scheme of things, in the autonomous scheme of this book. Whatever the case, the events and characters are compellingly believable.

  10. 13 – 21

    “The supernatural may exist in books and movies, but not in the real world.”

    Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing is full of patterns of synchronicities, I have found since I started them, and here one of the characters has a word for this phenomenon, a word beginning c and ending e. I won’t quote it here in case it becomes a spoiler. Whatever the case, my review seems to be creating a supernatural element OUTSIDE of this book in the real world of its readers. There is nothing supernatural INSIDE the book itself. At least, that is my current contention. The preternatural or Fortean, notwithstanding. And I continue to be impressed by the characters themselves, real people, no one wholly evil, no one wholly good. So far.

    “cooked to a blackened crisp and slathered with ketchup.,” “TRUMP MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” “pea-turkey,” stuff that makes the hay black, but what stuff? “khaki shirt and khaki pants,” “Mylar balloons,” indigo tentacle and ink tinting a weak blue… “a cosmic joke,” “yellow police tape”.

  11. I will not show the colour that forms the title of the next section, in case it may be a spoiler…

    ‘- – – – – -‘
    July 21st – July 22nd

    …although it may prove that my starting to record colours right from the very start of this real-time review may have been caused by more than some crazy instinct on my part? Here, green changes to white in an item of clothing – if just in a small girl’s dream. Nightmare, rather.
    And so we are not thinking only of pitching the Supernatural against the Preternatural or the Fortean while reading this book but also of factoring in the concept of Dreaming.
    And bringing in new characters – by FaceTime in preference to Skype – to investigate this book’s whole raison d’être, despite someone’s dream warning against continuing that investigation. To stop things getting ‘wronger’.

    “You see what I mean when I said this just keeps on getting weirder and weirder.”

    “‘Hooray for cake!’ she said.”

  12. HOLLY
    July 22nd – July 24th

    “…a crazy literature buff who had killed his favorite author.”

    Yes, anything is possible in the nooks and crannies of this world, that in this whodunnit and how-was-it-done, the reader did it, and the author did not know. Omniscience as the only Outsider truly outside the Apps and Venn Diagrams of this book? Or someone with Alzheimer’s who still retains a deductive nous? We meet now the Miss Marple of this book, the optimum OCD and Fitbit watcher, in every journey to get on her hands and knees to regather the dropped jigsaw pieces that would compensate for the missing fragments in any puzzle’s real-time gestalt. Two horrendous crimes, in two diverse places, connecting characters we already know, but who among us connected them?

  13. VISITS
    July 25th

    “If you weren’t crazy, you knew the difference between dreams and reality, even when the reality was far outside the boundaries of normal life.”

    Visitations where those being visited are doing a shit or piss, visits with finger tattoos of MUST and CANT. Hope that is not a spoiler! Can’t shares the first three letters of cancer. The visits certainly spoilt the days of those being visited. And a man with such tattoos visited, too. Two places impossible to be at once, yet again? This book, meanwhile, flows compellingly with plenty of King’s trademark scatologies and eschatologies of easyspeak. Beautiful stuff.

    “The eyes themselves were dark, maybe black, maybe brown, maybe deep blue.”

    Trump has colour to his cheeks, too, maybe sunburn, maybe something worse – for him.

    “‘Says the man who probably voted for Donald Trump,’ Ralph thought.”

    The character compulsions to carry on into the wronger, into the weirder, against all the warning odds, certainly make me keep my ‘think-face’ on!

    July 25th

    1 – 7


    See GRAVES, the title of a book I happen by chance to be simultaneously real-time reviewing here. And is it a coincidence or a preternatural mutual-synergy that one of the young girls brutally murdered in this book’s ‘connected’ crime was named ‘Amber’? These sections are where Holly (someone whom I nicknamed Miss Marple earlier in this review, now thus acknowledged by the book itself) is about to give her Dayton evidence by audio-visual to those interested parties to this book’s main crime fiction of narration. Note the above quote has reference to the ‘outsider’, an entity that is not only the title of this book but also, perhaps, some sort of google drone outside the author’s control? Not to be IN hell but a hell someone BRINGS? To have a file actually ‘marked HOLMES’ brings us to the core of crime fiction, I guess. The outsider this, the outsider that. And so it goes on. ‘Plenty of pieces on the table but damned if they make a picture.’

    “She said his shirt changed colors while he was talking to her,…”

  15. 8 – 17

    “‘If there are creatures who eat sadness,’ Jeannie mused, ‘a graveyard would make a nice cafeteria, wouldn’t it?’”

    Holly’s formal evidence as the new Miss Marple far outdoes whatever the real Miss Marple herself could have conceived, or even imagined! The Vanishing Life and Films of Emanuel Escobada is not even in it.
    I dare not reveal it here, (a) in case it is wrong and ignorable merely as an irrelevant tangent, and (b) if right, making you give up reading this book even before starting to read it. In both (a) and (b), though, I feel you would be wrong to take action either way in either case. Meanwhile, I think – off my own bat – of L’Étranger by Albert Camus, a novel I once studied and is often translated into English with the title ‘The Outsider’.

    “This outsider, I want you to find him. Don’t let him get away just because you don’t believe in him. Can you do that?”

    July 26th

    “Newspapers, TV, the Internet. It’s all there.”

    No end to the universe, equivalent to the bugs in the cantaloupe? To those who say they can read long books in one sitting, then, when asked the details, they become a blank (as this chapter opines). There is one reader at least reading this book quicker than me, but on the other hand all simultaneous readers of the same book have the same imposter syndrome, I guess. The same connector-outsider capability. See my memory anniversary that came up on Facebook today, shown below. Meanwhile, I am impressed with the wholeness of Holly’s fallible character. I hope she appears in other books. She and the others are now the new Ka-Tet, to Todash or crime fiction heaven?

  17. 425D34B6-CB3A-4AEC-BA91-18F6105419B2BIENVENIDOS A TEJAS
    July 26th

    1 – 9

    The Apocryphan or The Apocryfan.

    “the case of the pillow on the swaybacked bed was yellow with age, sweat, or both.”, “the little white pills”, “I never made any sammitches.”, “That’s the storybook version.”, “Because if Miss Holly is right, what you know, he knows.”, “The paint, once bright red, was now the faded pink of blood diluted in water.”, “the yellow lines of the spaces faded to ghosts”, “an Indian chief in full headdress”, “Especially if the cancer gets me.”, “, did you tell them about the graveyards?”

    What I know, the author knows, but who already knows more?

  18. 10 – 16

    Spelunking for the outsider’s spoor.
    And truth is stranger than fiction; Holly makes this point.
    And believe it or not, when I had some instinctive urge yesterday to post that image of the Apocryphan, I had no idea that Chief Ahiga would feature in what I was due to read today!
    Gestalt Real-Time Reviewing processes of critiquing hyper-imaginative literature can be very worrying, I guess. They are exponential, the more you use them.

    July 27th

    “Now he was full of poison. Cancer poison. And sitting here in this shitty motel room, long before dawn, he was no longer sure the visitor could take back what he had given him,…”

    King Dreamcatcher poison. I entered July in real-time while reading this book. Now we have blue on blue, police on police, while our redeeming retributive ka-tet of characters (‘ka’ is mentioned in this chapter explicitly) reaches the Spelunk for Spoor, diamondback rattlesnakes notwithstanding. Worms, too. Ironic, after all the colours, the ultimate weapon in Holly’s hand at the end is a “white thing.” A sock puppet! So apt for this inspiring, if shocking, book. The Happy Slapper. With some classic King horror descriptions at the kill. “Meddlers” in the battle of the Supernatural versus the Preternatural. The Tat-Man in the Chamber of Sound. Or toy versions of Chief Ahiga. The blood I am becoming. Straws for light in the eyes, drinking straws or what? Filters CAN work both ways, I say. And there are no spoilers here that you can pin on me.

    “Or the sunburn from hell.”


      Just one arguably relevant question: a flood of maggots and red worms in the carroty red book, how did they get in there?
      OutsiDER RED. Meursault’s Motive.


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