19 October 2012


"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 17

Do you know the only thing that's creepier than Church the cat? The cover I share with you today. You're probably not even reading this introduction because your retinas have been damaged by all the pink that undoubtedly caught your eye as this page loaded . . .

"I believe that we go on," he told his daughter slowly. "But as to what it's like, I have no opinion. It may be that it's different for different people. It may be that you get what you believed all your life. But I believe we go on, and I believe that Mrs. Crandall is probably someplace where she can be happy."

"You have faith in that," Ellie said. It was not a question. She sounded awed . . . "Do you think animals go on?"

"Yes," he said without thinking. And for a moment, he almost added,
Especially cats . . .

. . . "I was really silly about Church that day, wasn't I? Crying like that . . . If he died now, I could take it."

I usually don't mind updated covers that emphasise style over sensationalism . . . but whoever thought this palette would be good for Pet Sematary probably never read the book.

Chapters 28 to 35

There are two more deaths to report, but I'm not calling our tally a body count. Death is part of a Horror novel, but it's also a part of life.

And really, it is normalcy that jumps out at me from these chapters. If you didn't know that the family pet was an undead cat, the Creeds would be just like any other family. And Stephen King does write about them beautifully: Chapter 34, in particular, reads like music.

The reason this post is late and (as usual) backdated is that I couldn't think of anything deep to say about these eight chapters. I just wanted to go on and on about King as a writer. He nails the emotion of Norma Crandall's death and funeral, and steers Ellie through this crucial stage of her development as if he is guiding her in a dance. Then he expertly weaves together the innocent and the sinister in the Creed family's Christmas Eve: they're not the perfect family, but they do love each other. And as sappy as it sounds, that's all that matters. Well, except for that cat. Church never lets Louis forget that night at the Micmac burying ground.

But Louis isn't the only one with something to hide. Rachel has been tormented by her older sister Zelda's death for decades--not just the death itself, but also the way her family treated Zelda's spinal meningitis like their "dirty little secret." Louis is enraged at what Rachel had to go through, likely forgetting that he is lobbing stones from his own glass home. Does anyone else wonder what price his daughter might have to pay for his own dirty little secret?

It's not Ellie, however, whom we are told to be worried about. King says explicitly that it is Gage who is going to die: it's not foreshadowed as much as fore-yelled-from-the-rooftops. Since this is one of the few things I remember from the movie, I wasn't expecting a shock . . . only to be shocked, anyway, at how King is leading up to it. Not only does he tell us how long Gage has left to live, he also reveals that an Orinco truck will cause his death. It's as if he wants us to brace ourselves.

Or as if he doesn't want to have his own dirty little secret. =P

And I guess I have a "deep" theme for this readalong post, after all . . .

What are your thoughts on Chapters 28 to 35?

1. Is anyone else surprised that Louis hasn't tried to kill Church a second time?
2. Do you think Louis should tell Rachel the truth about Church? If your answer is no, is it only because of Zelda?
3. Since one dark power of the Micmac burying ground is that it makes those who have used it simultaneously want to hide what they know from the world and to share the secret with someone else, do you think the secret should become common knowledge? Would it still have this power in the clear-headed light of day?

Image Source: Pet Sematary by Stephen King


Angie Tusa said...

1. Given how revolted he is by the cat, you would almost expect that to happen, wouldn't you?

2. I'm generally of the belief that couples should share important information with each other.. but really given how long Rachel took to tell him about what happened with her sister, they don't really seem like the type that shares much.

3. That's an interesting concept. Would it break the spell? It would seem like the burial ground makes sure they only spread the knowledge if it increases the chances of more bodies being buried there.

I was initially very disappointed by the way King reveals Gage's death, but then I largely forgave him thanks to the brilliant way he handles it in the following chapters.

Enbrethiliel said...


1. I personally would have gone for it after Ellie said she'd be able to take Church's death. =P Louis may describe himself as a lapsed Methodist, but there's something almost Catholic about the way he lets his guilt over Church make him embrace the cat as his rightful "cross"! I don't think he's right to make Church his "penance," though--not without confession and the rest of it.

2. We're in agreement. You're right that neither Louis nor Ellie is very forthcoming with the other. But is this a "fatal flaw" that will directly contribute to the breakdown of their marriage or the very thing that is keeping them together?

3. When I asked that question, I thought of a lot of traditionally dark stuff (taboos, etc.) that have become so mainstream that we treat them like a joke. Ouija boards and seances, for instance, have become slumber party games; and so they're easy to laugh at. This may sound counter-intuitive, but I think that if more people knew the legend of the Micmac burying ground, they would be more likely to treat it like an outdated superstition. On the other hand, this doesn't mean that the grounds won't find a way to snare someone desperate enough to believe there's something to the old tales . . . I think this is one question that could get us talking late into the night, if we were a regular book club! ;-)

PS -- I don't give myself permission to read on until after the readalong post has been published, so I just got to Chapter 36 today. But now I know exactly what you mean about King's brilliant writing. Gage's death and funeral, and Louis's grief, are handled masterfully. I think I'll have a much easier time writing the next post. =D