Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Red/Jack Ketchum

It's always nice, after reading a bad book, to read a really good one. It sort of restores your faith in the whole reading process. This evening I read Jack Ketchum's RED, and it's a very good novel indeed.

The storyline is pretty simple. Young punks kill old man's dog. Young punks and their families think old man is harmless. They find out otherwise, much to their regret. That's about it. But Ketchum writes so well that the pages just flow by. Despite the blurb from Stephen King on the cover and the word "Horror" on the spine, this isn't a horror novel at all, unless you consider that any novel that's truthful about the human condition is going to have some horror to it. This is more of a mainstream novel, and for the most part, a quiet, subtly written one at that, making its way along deliberately until it abruptly explodes in unexpected directions.

Sure, one plot development is rather hard to accept (you'll know it when you come across it) and some of the plot threads maybe work out a little too neatly, but in this case I'm okay with those things because of all the novel's strengths. This is just an excellent book.

I've been aware of Ketchum's work for years and in fact I own most of his books, but this is the first novel of his that I've read. It almost certainly won't be the last.


Unknown said...

I've had this book for a long time and never read it. Now I will.

James Reasoner said...

I've now read "The Passenger", the Ketchum novella that rounds out the Leisure edition of this book, and it's excellent, too. A lot rawer and nastier than RED, but still very well-written. I plan to read more of Ketchum's work soon.