Roadwork by Stephen King
Note from 2021: I have no interest in "bashing" books. If I dislike a book, I typically don't finish it or quietly give it a couple of stars and move on. I keep my reviews honest, but friendly. However, I really didn't like this one and I feel like Stephen King can handle it. He's my favourite author for a reason, but with the vast amount of work he's put out there, I'm not going to like all of it. This was one I did not like. I think it's important to acknowledge that the things and people we love aren't perfect.
Original 2015 Review:
I did not like this book.
Not at all. I listened to this one as an audiobook and regretted that
choice the entire book. When reading words, it's easy to skim, but with
an audiobook, I was forced to listen to every word. Every bitter, whiny,
pouting thought that sprang into the mind of Barton George Dawes as he
poured gasoline all over his life and struck a match.
Dawes, despite what he may think, is not the hero of our story. He is a pathetic protagonist and while I was reminded of the rash of anti-heroes that seems to be popular lately, there was nothing compelling about Dawes. He has neither the charisma of Don Draper nor the wily, evil genius of Walter White, to make his descent anything but depressing.
When the city decides to build a highway directly through not only Dawes' house, but also the laundromat where he has worked for the better part of twenty years, something buried inside of him since the death of his son, Charlie, snaps and he decides that instead of rising to the occasion, he will torch everything. At the start of the mess, I sympathized with him, but when he destroys not just his life, but also his wife's, and those of the workers at the Blue Ribbon laundry for no other reason than he just can't cope, my pity dried up into annoyance.
Dawes is an infuriating crackpot. He tells self-righteous lies, craps on other people's happiness, and acts like he's doing them all a favour. I wanted to reach into the dashboard of my car and just shake Dawes until he shut up. When he finally decides to literally blow up his life, I was beyond ready for the book to be over.
That's not to say that there is nothing worthwhile in the story - it is by King, after all. The shoot out at the end and when Dawes explodes the construction equipment are good scenes. When Dawes remembers his son who died far too young of a brain tumor, I felt tears prick my eyes. Unfortunately, the good scenes are few and far between.
Instead we get to spend our time with the useless Olivia who Dawes sleeps with and then for some reason decides to send her all his money instead of the woman who supported him for twenty years. We also get treated to detailed descriptions of Dawes' diarrhea and the random acid trip he takes for no reason.
It shows that King wrote this book very early in his career and I don't know if it's because he was newer to writing, or because he was operating under the Bachman name, but this work does not feel like a King book. I won't be reading this again.