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From a Buick 8 : a novel /

Main Author: King, Stephen, 1947-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Scribner, 2002
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Review by Booklist Review

The book King was writing when he was almost killed by a drunk driver begins with Pennsylvania state trooper Curt Wilcox being killed by a drunk driver. When Curt's son, Ned, starts doing chores and learning everyday procedures at the station, Troop D virtually adopts him, and when he discovers the cherry '54 Buick in out-of-the-way shed B, the troopers feel they must tell him the car's story. Towed to shed B under the aegis of veteran trooper Ennis Rafferty and rookie Curt Wilcox in 1979, it was found to have no workable engine, and it proved capable of making the air in and around it as much as 30 degrees colder than the ambient temperature. When that happened, so did other things. People and animals near it disappeared, its trunk disgorged hideous creatures, and it erupted storms of intense light. It is not-of-this-world, of course, and it utterly entranced Curt, who conducted shot-in-the-dark experiments on it before deciding it cannot be understood by humans. Now it exerts the same fascination on Ned, which leads to the capper of the series of fright events that make up the novel. Plot has seldom been King's strong suit, which is more-than-usually obvious this time because there are nearly no scene changes, and the car's shenanigans lack variety. The voices of the characters as they talk to Ned are what sustains interest and rewards reading the book, but this is no Delores Claiborne. --Ray Olson

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

King, we learn in an author's note, hashed out the plot of this gripper while driving from western Pennsylvania to New York. The first draft took two months to write. That's quick work, and it's reflected in the book's simplicity of plot and theme; unlike King's chewy last novel, Dreamcatcher, this one goes down like a shot of moonshine, hot and clean, much like Cujo, say, or Gerald's Game. In 1979, an odd man drives what at first glance looks like a 1954 mint-quality Buick Roadmaster up to a service station in rural Pennsylvania, then vanishes, leaving behind the car. The state police of Troop D deposit the vehicle in a shed near their barracks, where, up to the present, it remains a secret from all but cop colleagues for the car isn't exactly a car; it may be alive, and it certainly serves as a doorway between our world and... what? Another dimension? Another galaxy? The troopers never find out, despite their amateurish scientific investigations of it and of the weird beings that occasionally emerge from the vehicle's trunk: freaky fish, creepy flowers and more. Moreover, the "car" is dangerous: the day it appears, a state trooper disappears, and experiments over the years with cockroaches, etc., indicate that just as the car can spew things out, it will ingest them. While the book's relative brevity and simplicity does lend comparison to earlier King, and King has relied on a nasty car before (Christine), the author's stylistic maturity manifests in his sophisticated handling of the round robin of narrators (both first and third-person), the sharp portrayal of police ways and mores and the novel's compelling subthemes (loyalty, generational bondings) and primary theme: that life is filled with Buick 8s, phenomena that blindside us and that we can never understand. This novel isn't major King, but it's nearly flawless and one terrific entertainment. (On sale Sept. 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Habitual readers of King know that he has a fascination for cars, preferably vintage gas guzzlers. In this year's just-in-time-for-Halloween offering, he indulges his fantasies once again by introducing an unearthly conduit of evil forged in the near-likeness of an eight-cylinder Buick Roadmaster. Although King's descriptions of the horrors that emerge from the Buick's trunk have the vibrancy of comic book illustrations heightened by allegorical overtones, it is the subtle story of the state police troopers who take on the task of sentry duty over the hulking sedan that captures the reader's interest. In the depiction of Troop D's encounters with the underworld for which the Buick is a portal, King reveals much about how individuals come to terms with malevolence in the world and how the undertaking itself transforms co-workers into a family unit. At the same time, the act of storytelling within the tale demonstrates the dissemination of wisdom from one generation to the next. For all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/01; this book's nationwide laydown date is September 24. - Ed.] - Nancy McNicol, Whitneyville Lib., Hamden, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Why does King (Dreamcatcher, 2001, etc.) write such gross stuff ("I have the heart of a small boy . . . and I keep it in a jar on my desk")? His latest is less gross-out than police procedural. A strange "man" in a black coat and hat pulls up to a nearly deserted gas station in rural western Pennsylvania in a weird Buick 8 Roadmaster and, while his tank is being filled, disappears behind the station. Troopers come and move the Buick to Shed B out behind their precinct house. Why? Because the car is only a poor simulation of a car: the battery's not hooked up, the dashboard is stage-dressing, and most of the car seems made of unknown materials. Then the vehicle starts to make local earthquakes and gives off a purple light that outlines the nails in the shed walls. All this began 20 years ago, and the troopers have watched the car go through otherworldly shifts: it gives birth to a big batlike thing; a sofa-sized fish; unfamiliar green beetles; a lilylike plant; and it has sucked one trooper into its trunk, teleporting him God knows where. Then a girl-battering tattooed kid gets sucked in. Lead investigator is Trooper Curtis Wilcox, who dissects the strange bat and finds egglike one-eyed baby bats inside. This year, Curtis Wilcox has been killed on the highway after hailing a tractor-trailer, and now his teenaged son Ned wants the lowdown on the station's cover-up about the Buick 8. The novel gives the history of the car-or would that it did. Instead of following it's fairly gripping premise, King stuffs his tale with endless police procedure and some of the most truly dull characters this side of a 1930s Soviet proletariat play. The writing's not bottom drawer, but this is truly a miscalculation after the emotional wonders of The Green Mile, Hearts in Atlantis and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Seven-tenths filler, three-tenths story.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.