I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I took a summer class that was particularly brutal. Also I moved, and have temporarily misplaced my abridged copy of The Stand. And also my copy of The Shack, so we’ll have to get to that book later. For now, we are doing chapter 10 of the unedited version of Stephen King’s novel.
Ugh. More Larry Underwood. Well, let’s get it over with.
Larry woke up with a hangover that was not too bad, a mouth that tasted as if a baby dragon had used it for a potty chair, and a feeling that he was somewhere he shouldn’t be.
Not gonna have a good ending, this chapter.
Larry pieces together that the night before, he got drunk and wound up sleeping with some random woman. His first thought is that his mother is going to freak, because of course he didn’t call her.
At least he realizes that this is a dick move on his part.
The girl’s name was Maria and she had said she was a….what? Oral hygienist, was that it? Larry didn’t know how much she knew about hygiene, but she was great on oral.
I like this line.
Larry tries to piece together what happened the night before. His mom left him a note saying that the yankees weren’t playing, and that most of his friends aren’t around anymore, except for one.
Just thinking of the note made him wince. NO “dear” before his name, no “love” before her signature. She didn’t believe in phony stuff. The real stuff was in the refrigerator….she had gone out and stocked up on every goddam thing in the world that he liked….. no “dear” no “love, mom.” Sometimes, he thought, real love is silent as well as blind.
Maybe it’ll be more obvious as we go along, but I’m not seeing Alice Underwood as a “horrible mother.” Yes, she’s a bit abrupt. Yes she does things I don’t agree with (why can’t you write “love mom” AND buy Larry all the things?) but she’s not horrible. At least, she wasn’t in the edited version. Maybe the upcoming confrontation with her and Larry will make things a little more obvious.
Anyway, that was Larry remembering. Now Maria comes back. She informs him she made “kippers and bacon” for breakfast. Larry has too much of a hangover to eat, and anyway, he has to go, although he does it in the worst way possible.
“No, honey, I’ve got to run. Someone I’ve got to see.”
Yeah, that doesn’t sound like you’ve got a wife to run home to. Really now, Larry.
She and Larry get into an argument, during which he insults her quite a bit. Finally, Larry tells Maria that the person he’s got to go see is his mother. Maria doesn’t believe him.
“What am I supposed to do with all the stuff I just cooked?”
Which is a silly argument, but I could think of at least 5 better responses than
“Throw it out the window?” Larry suggested.
At which point Maria throws the spatula at Larry, cutting open his forehead.
He advanced two steps with the spatula in his hand. “I ought to paddle you with this!” he shouted at her.
Really Larry? Look, I get that she threw it at you first, but couldn’t you just leave it there and walk away?
Maria cries, and screams, “you ain’t no nice guy!” over and over again as Larry leaves.
And she’s not entirely wrong. Larry isn’t very nice. King probably intends to show us Larry’s growth over the course of the novel, but I’m undecided as to whether or not that’s shown very well. I’ve read this thing twice and I still don’t like him.
In any case, after Larry leaves, he realizes he could have handled that situation better.
He had treated the girl like an old whore on the morning after the frathouse gangbang.
I wouldn’t know out that, but, sure?
Larry hails a cab to go visit his mother at work, and the chapter ends as he wonders how he’s going to explain this one to her.
This chapter was short, so we’re gonna go ahead and do chapter 11 as well.
The next chapter begins with Larry visiting Alice Underwood at work. This part was absolutely not included in the edited edition, so this will be interesting. If this is Larry’s confrontation with his “horrible mother,” I’m really interested to see it.
Larry finds his mom and apologizes, saying he should have called her.
“Yeah. Good idea.” Replies Alice Underwood.
Ok she’s a little abrupt, but she’s also right. Yes he’s a grownass man, but when I lived with my parents, I always let them know if I was going to be gone overnight.
Alice is on a ladder doing inventory, and Larry can kinda sorta see up her dress. King goes on about it for quite a while, actually.
“Is that all you came to tell me?” She asked, looking around at him for the first time.
“Well, where I was and to apologize, It was crummy of me to forget.”
“Yeah,” she said again. “But you got your crummy side to you, Larry. Do you think I forgot that?”
“You’re bleeding. Some stripper hit you with a loaded G-string?”
I think I get where King is coming from now with the “horrible mother” bit.
Actually, let’s talk about this. Alice Underwood is out of line with that last comment. She is absolutely emotionally abusive and probably a little bit verbally abusive too.
But, like most horrible mothers, she’s also a human who loves her son. Most people think it’s an either or thing; either a woman is abusive or she loves her son. And it’s clear here that Alice is both. She is a well rounded well written realistic character.
I wanted to point that out because I plan to compare her to Fran’s mother later. The differences between the confrontations are…. striking.
After a bit more back and forth about exactly what Larry was doing last night, Larry softly begs his mother not to be mad at him.
“Larry,” she said gently. “Larry, Larry, Larry….is that all you can say? ‘Don’t be mad at me, please Ma, don’t be mad’? I hear you on the radio, and even though I don’t like that song you sing, I’m proud it’s you singing it. People ask me if that’s really my son and I say yes, that’s Larry.”
I don’t get it. She’s making fun of her son, then telling him she’s proud of him…. in the same sentence?
Usually my father picks one or the other, so I don’t really get this. This is some emotional manipulation going on here.
Alice then tells Larry she’s not sure why he’s come back, but that she knows he’s in some kind of trouble. When Larry argues that he’s not, Alice tells him she knows better.
“Am I mad? No. Am I disappointed? Yes. I had hoped you would change out there. You didn’t….you know why I think you came back home? I think you came home because you couldn’t think where else to go, or who else would take you in. “
Alice isn’t wrong. Still. This is hardly the time nor the place.
“Since you’ve pushed me to it, I’ll tell you exactly what I think of you. I think you’re a taker. You’ve always been one. It’s like God left some part of you out when he built you inside of me. You’re not bad. You would’ve gone bad if there was bad in you.”
Alice then reminds Larry of the time she caught him writing a bad word on the stairway of the apartment complex they lived in once.
As punishment, she wrote the word on his forehead and then paraded him around the neighborhood.
That’s a terrible punishment. It’s terrible because it’s clearly just meant to humiliate him. What the hell Alice?
Alice tells Larry she never would have done that if she knew a better way to fix him, which…. what? Alice did that because she was trying to make Larry not be so selfish? How on earth is that going to teach him anything except that you are a horrible person? Good god.
Larry says he’ll move out this afternoon, if she feels that way. But even as he says this, he knows he can’t afford to do that. Because Alice was right, he is in trouble. Even if he won’t admit that to her.
But Alice’s tone softens. She begs Larry not to leave. She bought him all the food, and she was hoping they could play card games. Larry agrees to stay, even while feeling slightly guilty for being a “taker” again.
Yanno, if one is in trouble, it’s not wrong to take help. I can’t tell if this is Alice’s emotional manipulation indicating this, or if that’s what King actually thinks. Knowing King, it’s probably the former.
Alice tells Larry to take $10 out of her purse so he can go watch a movie.
So, Alice yells at him for a while, then gives him money and begs him to stay. Yeah, that’s not emotional manipulation at all.
Larry promises to pay his mom back at some point. His record is selling really well, he says. Alice asks why, if his record is selling so well, doesn’t he just pay her now?
You know, I get the feeling a lot of problems could be solved if Larry would just tell her what the fuck is going on.
“Well, nevermind. My tongue’s like a horse with a bad temper. Once it starts running, it just has to go on running until it’s tired out. You know that. Take $15, Larry. Call it a loan. I guess I will get it back, one way or the other.”
She insults him, then tries to make up for it by giving him more money. I get that this would be heartbreaking, but if Larry wants to play this right, he could make a killing.
Larry then tries to tell his mom about exactly what kind of trouble he’s in, but she coldly replies that she doesn’t want to hear about it.
Oooookay then. Well.
So Larry goes and watches a movie “with a roman numeral after it’s name that seems well attended.” Larry deduces that there is probably going to be a sequel.
But Larry doesn’t know that
The sound behind him signaled the end to all that: there would be no more sequels, and in a very short time, there would be no more movies at all.
In the row behind Larry, a man was coughing.
When King is good, he’s really good.
So, let’s talk for a bit about why this got cut from the original novel. King wanted to include it, obviously, or he wouldn’t have put it back in.
He claims that the reason he took a lot of stuff out had to do with printing costs and logistics rather than wanting to remove the actual content. Now that he’s a more established author, he can do things like put back the edited content. He probably thinks the novel is much stronger for it.
However, I am finding that much of the stuff King put back in was probably better left out, the possible exception being the prologue. (though even that is debatable.)
Is Larry’s confrontation with his mother essential to the novel? No, not at all. King probably felt it was important to emphasize that Larry is a taker, but honestly, we could’ve gotten that from just about every other thing he’s done so far, and everything he will continue to do for the next half of the book.
We do not need Alice Underwood to tell us that Larry is selfish. We do not need to see how he reacts to his mother berating him to understand that Larry has a sensitive side. All of this could (and arguable will) be shown elsewhere.
This chapter didn’t just get taken out due to printing costs. It got taken out because it mostly develops character of a person who is going to die in the first fourth of the novel and never be seen again. Alice Underwood serves no purpose to the plot, and neither does this confrontation.