The shootout at Balazar's last week gave us a taste of the action, now we're fiending like a junkie for some more! Join our discussion of Part III of The Drawing of the Three, as we meet ODetta Holmes/Detta Walker.
Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three (1987), the 2nd book in The Dark Tower series. Several of us have just finished a trek through The Gunslinger (1982), which originally was a collection of short stories, later bound together, effectively capturing a world certainly familiar to us—Wild West background set to modern pop tunes—but stirring nightmarish images where time is out of mind and people displaced in various purgatories. The main protagonist, Roland Deschain of Gilead, is obsessed with locating the Dark Tower, so he shadows the man in black, who seems to have answers when confronted, though they are obtusely revealed with a turning over of Tarot cards. The man in black explained that Roland has caught the attention of his superior, who remains unknown, taking an interest in Roland’s endeavors.
*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!
With Stephen King's chapters getting a little strange, the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 pages), and each Tuesday we will meet 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, we come across another door—that of The Lady of the Shadows—as Roland attempts to draw the second of his three. Join us in the comments for a lively discussion of Part III of The Drawing of the Three: Shuffle – The Lady of Shadows, Chapter 1: “Detta and Odetta.”
Shuffle – The Lady of Shadows, Chapter 1: “Detta and Odetta”
Roland and Eddie Dean, aka the prisoner, have been losing track of time along this expanse of the Western beach. Roland because he’s near death from an infection in his hand and is waiting for the antibiotics to kick in, and Eddie because of heroin withdrawal.
I like the hell out of Eddie because he takes no guff from Roland. When the gunslinger bitches to Eddie about feeding him lobstrosities for nourishment, Eddie rebukes him with a strong, “What did you think I was doing? … Calling Red Lobster for take-out?” After witnessing Roland’s calculated maneuvers (using Allie from Tull and Jake Chambers as pawns for his ends to justify the means in the Tower quest), I like Eddie’s in-your-face insubordinate nature—and with a tailor-fitted name that smacks of a classic mix of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause with Eddie Wilson from one of my favorite ’80’s flicks Eddie and the Cruisers.
Eddie reluctantly listens to Roland’s determination to move north. Days later, with Roland’s health improved—and much male bonding—they find a second door with another obtuse inscription.
THE LADY OF SHADOWS
“So,” Eddie said softly, looking at the door which simply stood here with its hinges grounded in some unknown jamb between one world and another, one universe and another. It stood with its graven message, real as rock and strange as starlight.
“So,” the gunslinger agreed.
“Here is where you draw the second of your three?”
“It seems so.”
I must say, I lost a bit of interest as we get to know Odetta Holmes, The Lady of Shadows. Not that she’s uninteresting—far from it—but after the level of excitement, the shoot-out in particular, I wasn’t ready to be back in the days following the Kennedy assassination with another slow character reveal. I found myself dangerously wanting to scan ahead, forcing my attention span back in check.
We just experienced a pile of Eddie’s relationship with his brother Henry, and now we hunker down for more backstory. Obviously, Mr. King needs to have us tied to Odetta like we are cinched tight to Roland, Jake, and Eddie so when the emotional rug is ultimately yanked (as I’m assuming) we are fully invested.
Odetta, a wealthy woman thanks to her father’s inheritance, is a leading member of the civil rights community and an heir to MLK and Rosa Parks. She dislikes the term limousine liberal and actively campaigns to make a difference in her community, wanting to rise above her rich girl status.
But here’s where it goes Ozzy off-the-rails crazy—she has a split personality. For long stretches, she lives a separate existence as Detta Walker, who routinely shoplifts and lives a shady life. Her driver Andrew, who is also a close friend, worries about her absences but is in the dark about her second life.
When we shift back to our mismatched duo, Eddie is coming unraveled and has decided he wants nothing more to do with Roland’s search for the Tower. He’s missing fast food and the bustle of NYC life, and he’s tired of killing lobstrosities on a desolate beach. He warns Roland not to step into Odetta’s world to save her from being nabbed for nicking some jewelry. Roland ignores him, crossing the “event horizon” all the same.
He pulled the knife from the gunslinger’s purse and then rolled over the limp, breathing body which lay before the doorway. The eyes were open but blank, rolled up to the whites.
“Watch, Roland!” Eddie screamed.
Our chapter ends with an unhinged Eddie bringing down the weapon to the gunslinger’s throat, but I’m confident our knight from Gilead is going to be fine. Besides the two Ms. Holmes, I’m guessing Roland is in for another surprise with Mr. King’s descriptions of Odetta’s movements—it seems likely she’s in a wheelchair, which is going to become beach travel problematic.
Did you enjoy this passage? Don’t get me wrong, I like this new, schizophrenic addition to the party. It’s just a slower read than what came before, a longer diversion. I’m ready for more action, and more progress toward some Tower answers.
What do YOU think about the introduction of Detta and Odetta? 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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|The Drawing of the Three Part II||| Index |||The Drawing of the Three Part IV|
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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.