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A matter of taste but quite enthralling once it gets going,
This review is from: Body (Audio Cassette)No great fan of King, I honestly felt like abandoning this taped reading of <The Body> after the first of the 8 sides; but I decided to stick with it and was glad I did. What turned me off right off the bat was the scatology that so many writers deem absolutely necessary to succeed in a novel or script today. Having been a teacher for too many years and having grown quite fed up with language pollution in the young and the mis-called "mature adult," I find myself avoiding like the plague all company--in real life or on the printed page--that has an arsenal of adjectives limited to variations on two or three words. And I do not buy the argument that asserts "but that's the way people really talk."
Now for what I like very much about this novella. It is a combination of the ancient epic of "Gilgamesh" (why must men die?), the "Odyssey" (a series of harrowing adventures leading to self-awareness), "Huckleberry Finn" (male bonding), and "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" (incipient author learns about life). Add to that list any of the thousands that fit the bill, and you have a very derivative work. But so is "Hamlet" and therefore the derivations are not necessarily a Bad Thing.
The youngsters who take the Great Journey to find the corpse that gives this work its title are not particularly desirable beings; but King is careful to show how little choice they had in their development up to that point in their lives. On the other hand, they are utterly believable, which puts them many notches above characters in other King novels, let alone most novels by any author. Some of the incidents--the one with Chopper the dog who does not live up to his myth and the one with Lardass who deliberately loses a pie-eating contest in a very Monty Pythonesque way--are hysterically funny, almost in a Jean Shepherd vein.
Frank Muller gives a very sympathetic reading. If you are not put off by the language and do not think that a plot is utterly necessary for novella, you might very well enjoy this mid-20th Century epic prose poem of youth, life, and death.