Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Colorado Kid
Another Stephen King novel for me, The Colorado Kid. I guess I'm starting off with some of his lesser known works, for my first was The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and now I read The Colorado Kid published in 2005. King has an uncanny ability to write, as so many already know. His characters seem so real; they come alive off the page. He has a great way of describing things so that you actually can see it in your mind, even if it is a little creepy.
The Colorado Kid is a mystery novel, but it is unlike typical mystery novels. The Colorado Kid explores an unsolved mystery in Maine through a young writer named Stefanie or Steffi. She asks to older men at the newspaper if they've ever come across an unexplained mystery, and the two of them launch into the story about the Colorado Kid. The entire story is really a narrative of the two of them telling the story with Steffi asking questions every now and then.
Here is the mystery: Two teenagers discover a man on the beach very early in the morning in 1980. The man is in a jacket perched standing up on the beach with a piece of steak wedged in his throat. The cause of death is asphyxiation, and fish and chips are in his stomach when he passes--not steak. At the scene of the crime, he has no identification, just a Russian coin and a pack of cigarettes. The medical examiner determines that John Doe is not a smoker by his pink lungs. So what's up with the cigarettes and the coin?
A year earlier, a hotshot in town figured out that they should check the tax stamp on the bottom of the cigarettes to determine where they came from. This is where John Doe gets dubbed the Colorado Kid. A woman from Colorado calls to identify her husband who went missing years ago and abandoned his young son that he truly loved. Why would he run away if he loved his job and his family? The mystery keeps spiralling out of control.
Further, they question those who worked with him, and he was at work the day before he died. He would have had to jump on a plane directly after the last person saw him, on an elevator in the morning at work, take a private jet to Maine and then be killed or kill himself? The mystery further tangles.
By the end of the novel, nothing is really figured out. No more clues or answers are given. We are left with this tangle of a web without any sort of closure. At first I was a little mad because I thought that King was going to tell us how to solve this mystery, but he doesn't. He doesn't do what the typical mystery does, and that's why he's such an innovative writer. He makes us wonder. He does what the real world does: he doesn't solve the crime. Not every mystery and murder has that obvious solution. Sometimes it takes years to solve; sometimes mysteries never get solved. That's the way the world works.
I like this idea of storytelling that is ever-present throughout the novel. The act of oral storytelling is really getting lost as years go by. We watch movies, we read, but do we pass on oral stories? We do in a sense, at least looking at comedians, but not in the ways that we used to. I like that this story connects back to that oral tie that is becoming abandoned. I think it's pretty cool.
I was a bit disappointed without any closure, but I think it sends a more powerful, deeper, realistic message without having a real ending. It's more true to life. It makes the reader actually think and try to solve the mystery herself/himself. If you read a mystery novel, you might try to put it together yourself, if you're that bold or non-lazy, but most people would just read to find out. I like that you are forced to come up with some kind of idea because King won't give it to you. We need to be more creative thinkers and not have everything spoon-fed to us!
The only thing I don't really get, besides any closure on the story, is the cover. Is that Steffi? What's up with the 1970s cover? The cover doesn't represent the story at all. Or maybe I'm not looking hard enough. I didn't take Steffi to be that sexual. There isn't any romance or sex in the novel anyway! Why be so deceiving on the cover? And, the answer on the cover is NO!!!
What conclusions have others come to about what happened to the Colorado Kid?
What do you think of The Colorado Kid?