Tuesday 5 May 2015

From a Buick 8

From a Buick 8 is the second of King's "car novels". While it shares the idea of a vehicle that is supernatural, there are more differences than similarities between this novel and Christine

Narration is structured in a completely different way. The story of Buick is told by members of state police force. After the death of a well-liked member (Curtis Wilcox) is killed by a drunk driver, his young son, Ned, begins visiting the barracks. He is liked by the troops. After hanging around the barracks and doing various different small jobs, he decided to spend his summer with the troops. One day, they gather together to tell the boy a tale of Buick 8. Sandy Dearborn, the current chief of the force, is the main narrator, but other people take turns to add their own point of view to the fascinating, but also unsettling tale. The narration switches between past events and present situation with the troops reflecting on old events. Ned is an inquisitive boy and often asks questions to learn more about those events and feels very frustrated when he doesn't get the complete answers he expects.

The story revolves around a car that was found during a routine patrol. It looks like a a Buick Roadmaster, but the steering wheel doesn't move, the engine has no parts that can move, and the wires seem to go nowhere. What is even more unusual, the car appears to be resistant to dirt and debris, and it actually heals itself from scratches and dents. The troops put it inside a storage shed and forget about it for some time. After a while, the Buick gives off the first of its "lightquakes". The car gives flashes of purple light and when the troops check in on the vehicle, they learn that it "gave birth" to some otherworldly plants. In the following years, the phenomenon happens with some regularity, each time resulting in weird creatures or substances being brought into the shed.

The story is full of tension. Each time the "lightquake" happens, members of the police force can't really predict what to expect, especially after one of them mysteriously disappears in the shed. Also, each of the events brings them close to something big, mysterious, and something that they slowly come to realize can never be fully explained. Young Ned shares his late father's fascination with the car and refuses to accept that. As a result, the novel doesn't simply finish with the ending of the old story...

I liked the way the story was told in the novel. The variety of narrators and switching from past to present makes it possible to see the story from different points of view. I have to admit though, some of the elements were highly disturbing. The novel deals with a difficult theme that King touches on in some of his other works (Pet Sementary, Revival). Trying to find is there is "another" world and what happens on the other side are important themes in these novels.. Some of the existential questions can never be answered. What's more, they should probably not even be asked as we might not like to know the answers...

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