Last week, we survived a thrilling shootout and got some answers about the demon baby inside Susannah/Mia. This week, things get a little wacky as we run into Stephen King himself in his own story.
On September 6th of last year, we began our journey on a reread of Stephen King’s epic series—soon to be a motion picture starring Idris Elba as Roland, the gunslinger. Faithfully each week, we’ve come closer to that looming Dark Tower in the distance that holds our world and Roland’s Gilead together, and that nexus is in danger of being destroyed by the Crimson King. Okay, let’s dig into Song of Susannah, which follows the obliteration of the Wolves, as our ka-tet is weighing the options…
*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!
Song of Susannah sets up nicely, splitting up the break-neck pace into digestible “stanzas.” So the plan is to read a few stanzas a week (about 130 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, things get a little wacky as we run into Stephen King in his own story…. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part III of Song of Susannah: 10th Stanza: “Susannah-Mio, Divided Girl of Mine” – 11th Stanza: “The Writer”!
10th Stanza: “Susannah-Mio, Divided Girl of Mine” – 11th Stanza: “The Writer”
In the “deep state” of a body that Mia is mostly controlling, Susannah gains an advantage by remaining quiet—mums the word—thus leaving Mia quite lost in NYC. She desperately needs a guide to get to The Dixie Pig to give birth, but the bustling metropolis is a chaotic foreign land.
Suze is buying time because Eddie’s voice has told her, “Burn up the day. Give us a chance to catch up.” I’m not exactly sure how Susannah is able to gather these thought messages or how Mia sometimes picks up what Susannah is experiencing and other times does not. In any case, it’s working in Susannah’s favor. Before she will show the hapless Mia how to get to The Dixie Pig, she asks for more of the woman’s backstory.
Mia confesses she was not an elemental as she had previously claimed, rather she was a succubus having sex with men until their deaths. Eventually, she ran across the path of the opportunistic Walter, who promises her that she could have a baby of her own to raise—something she has long desired. Susannah jumps into her flashback, questioning why she would believe such lies.
“Flagg—Walter, if you like that better—he promised you seven years. Sayre says you can have five. What if they hand you a card, GOOD FOR THREE YEARS OF CHILD-REARING WITH STAMP, when you get to this Dixie Pig? Gonna go with that, too?
“That won’t happen! You’re as nasty as the other one! Shut up!”
“You got a nerve calling me nasty! Can’t wait to give birth to a child supposed to murder his daddy.”
Mrs. Dean doesn’t persuade the mother-to-be but does succeed in killing the better part of the day. Meanwhile, Roland and Eddie travel to meet the author Stephen King, who passes out upon meeting his creations. When he comes to, he fills them in on details like Claudia Inez Bachman being the made up wife of Richard Bachman, an early pseudonym for King. The number 19 doesn’t mean much to the writer other than it’s a prime number and he likes prime numbers. A few more asides, then Roland begins spinning a bullet for a final question:
“Was it you wrote The Dark Tower?”
To Eddie this question made no sense, but King’s eyes lit up and he smiled brilliantly. “No!” he said. “And if I ever do a book on writing—and I probably could, it’s what I taught before I retired to do this—I’ll say so. Not that, not any of them, not really. I know that there are writers who do write, but I’m not one of them. In fact, whenever I run out of inspiration and resort to plot, the story I’m working on usually turns to shit.”
“I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” Eddie said.
Okay, I know after our last reread I promised I wouldn’t comment anymore on the topic of King inserting himself into the proceedings, but these pages are verging on jump the shark kind of bad … and it pains me to say so. Song of Susannah started as one kick-ass, tight number, and it was shaping up to rank high in the series. But in my estimation, these passages torpedoed any chance of that, and at this point, I would rate it on the bottom rung.
Apparently, The Crimson King has been out to get Stephen King, and the author’s life is in danger—in particular whenever he is chronicling these adventures. When he nearly died in that real-life car accident, there was ka stepping in to save him. And he asserts that he doesn’t make up the stories but they come floating in on some magical eddies from Gan—the one who created the Dark Tower and pretty much everything—and King simply relates these true events.
Am I being too critical of the master … a pigeon pecking at a statue? Tell me, how did it work for you?
What did you think of Part III of Song of Susannah? Head to the comments and start/join the conversation!
*Remember: Be careful with your comments—NO SPOILERS! We will be moderating the comments and deleting anything we feel is a spoiler, so pause before you post and make sure you're not ruining it for someone else.
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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.