Book Report: Firestarter by Stephen King (1980)

I bought this book a long, long time ago when I was doing the eBay thing. Undoubtedly, I bought it for a buck or less and hoped to turn that into a quick three or four dollars, minus eBay’s cut of fifty cents plus twenty percent plus PayPal’s quarter plus twenty percent plus whatever shipping cost over what I charged plus the cost of packaging compounded with the cost of gas to the post office and my time in preparing and shipping the item. In retrospect, perhaps my bottom line is better off that I didn’t actually sell the book on eBay. Now that I’ve come to better appreciate Stephen King, my library is certainly better off.

As you probably already know, gentle reader, this book deals with a father and his daughter on the run from a clandestine government organization called the Shop. A participant in a small study while in college, Andy McGee (the father) found that he had special abilities beyond those of normal men. He married another participant, and together they begot the very special titular pyrokinetic daughter Charlene. The clandestine officials kill the mother and pursue the father and daughter so they can study them and perhaps use the child’s power on the Russkies. Hell, you know how it works out, sorta; you remember the Drew Barrymore movie, back when it was startling that the little girl from E.T. could be dangerous–back before the little girl who played the little girl from E.T. became actually dangerous.

The book moves along quickly and captures not only early King narrative, but also some of the zeitgeist of the time. Unfortunately, the book’s ending also reflects that zeitgeist, without any cathartic retribution or quiet return of the hero to normalcy; no, we get an indication that the child will tell her story to the one periodical that will stick it to the man, a periodical of some influence at the time, perhaps, but not any more. Of course, it wasn’t 2005 in 1980, so I couldn’t certainly expect Charlie McGee to start a blog, but come on.

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