My latest venture into the fiction of Robert R. McCammon was the novel Stinger. I listened to the recently released audiobook. Here are my thoughts on both the story and the audiobook.
Stinger is sort of like West Side Story meets The Thing. There are two rival gangs of high schoolers in a desperate Texas town who, along with the rest of the town, become the pawns in a battle between alien lifeforms. I won't say much more about the plot, but in true McCammon fashion,we are introduced to a garden variety of people who have dreams and fears, people who could easily walk out of the pages and into you life. The people of Inferno are nothing if not flawed, most of them. And that's what makes them breathe. I have no idea if there really is a Texas town called Inferno, but McCammon convinced me that there is, right down to little bits of slang that I assume he made up. The teens call a pretty girl a "smash fox" and there's a term for going crazy that something like "looking into the great big empty". That one seems to be a general perception of Inferno harbored by so many of its inhabitants. In a way, having something as traumatic and extreme as an alien visitation is just what Inferno needs, minus the death and destruction, of course.
There were several elements of the plot that I predicted, but that's only because there is so much going on in this story. Twice as many plot elements took me by surprise, leading to a satisfying ending. Had the supernatural elements been removed and the conflict changed (I'm not suggesting this, by the way), this story would have been recognized as an American classic, or what some people refer to as the Great American Novel (well, Boy's Life takes that honor, I suppose). I only mention this because genre fiction gets a bad rap, and authors like Robert McCammon, though a New York Times bestseller, do not get the praise and name recognition they deserve. This might sound crazy in the horror world (yep, McCammon is well renowned to us), but he really should be a household name, and very few horror authors cross that barrier. I, for one, am glad we have authors like McCammon who are bringing the literary bend to a genre that sometimes seems steeped in pulp (again, don't get me wrong here, I like pulp horror too, I write it, but it's great to have authors with such incredible talent--a more recent example, just to throw another name out there, would be Ronald Malfi).
On to the audiobook narrator, Nick Sullivan. I listen to maybe ten audiobooks a year. Some narrators have strengths and weaknesses, and others read the book with such precision that they transport the listener into another world. Nick Sullivan is that kind of narrator. He does unique voices for each and every character (and there are a lot of them in this book), including accents, for which there are several considering some of the characters have a Texas drawl and others are hispanic. His reading is natural and pleasant to the ear. If you are a fan of audiobooks than I would absolutely suggest you check this one out. You can get it HERE on Amazon.
Well, I'm not sure what McCammon book I will read next. I have a collection of them on my bookshelf, some read, others in the TBR pile. Stinger reaffirmed by growing love for McCammon's work. Though Gone South still stands tall as my favorite, Stinger did not disappoint.
Up next will be my thoughts on Graham Masterton's Death Mask. I'm currently reading The Amulet by Michael McDowell, and The Silence by Tim Lebbon.