TITLE: FROM A BUICK 8
AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING
PUBLISHER: HODDER & STOUGHTON
GENRE: SUPERNATURAL FICTION
COVER TYPE: HARD BACK
BLURB FROM THE COVER
‘Come close, children, and see the living crocodile. A vintage ’58 blue Buick Roadmaster. At least, that’s what it looks like.
There is a terrifying secret shrouded in Shed B out the back of the state police barracks in Statler, Pennsylvania. A secret which lures its victims, terrified yet irresistibly tempted, to look at its beautiful chrome fenders, silver grille, and exotic exhaust system. None of which works. Because the power of the Buick 8 is not turbo-charged or fuel-injected.
For twenty years, the Buick has lured curious officers to watch its terrifying displays – from blinding light-shows to feeding time. Come take a look. Because the Buick is a conduit to world beyond.
Young Ned Wilcox will be next. Ned has started coming by the barracks: mowing the lawn, washing the windows, shovelling snow. It’s the boy’s way of holding on to his father – recently killed in a strange road accident by another Buick.
And Ned can feel it pulling him, whispering for him to come in and take a look.
And so he peers through the windows of Shed B and discovers the family secret.
And like his father, Ned wants answers. He deserves answers. And the secret begins to stir.
THE OPENING LINE
Curt Wilcox’s boy came around the barracks a lot the year after his father died, I mean a lot, but nobody ever told him ‘get out the way’ or asked him ‘what in hail’ he was doing there again.
I enjoyed reading From a Buick 8 but not as much as I wanted to. I think Christine is a much better novel that deals with a supernatural car. King’s prose is as strong as ever. His characterisation is spot on. I just didn’t buy the overall concept of the novel. I found the Buick 8 quite dull overall for an alleged portal to another world.
I liked the way From a Buick 8 is structured. The narrative moves back and forth between the past and present. In the present, Ned Wilcox spends a lot of time at the army barracks trying to hold onto his father’s memory. Troop D tell him anecdotes about his father and his fascination with the Buick 8 hidden away in Shed B. In the past, various members of Troop D are affected by the strange Buick and its presence in their lives for more than twenty years. I liked the effortless way the story moves back and forth in time.
I think the characterisation in From a Buick 8 is spot on. Like any King novel, there’s a fair amount of characters. King manages to make each of them unique, memorable and realistic. None of the characters are stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs. They’re very well drawn. I was impressed.
I like some of the sections set in the past when the Buick 8 ‘gives birth’ to mysterious creatures from another world. These were very dramatic and memorable. They certainly gave me the creeps. My favourite bit is the first ‘live’ birth, a weird monster with tentacles for a head. This is one of the best scenes in the novel. The troop’s dog, Mister Dillon attacks the creature and is injured. The troop surrounds the monster and hack it to pieces. They realise they killed a thinking creature and that it was terrified of them. I loved this scene. I also loved the scene when Ned attempts to destroy the Buick and it becomes a portal.
King’s a great writer and From a Buick 8 is no exception. His descriptions were great. The pacing of the novel is perfect. I found King’s prose flawless. I couldn’t fault him as a writer.
From a Buick 8 has a very tentative link to The Dark Tower. The Buick is left behind at a petrol station by a person who fits the description of a Low Man. The main narrator is Sandy Dearborn and has the same surname as Roland’s alias Will Dearborn in Wizard & Glass.
I did enjoy large parts of From a Buick 8. However, I still felt dissatisfied overall.
We’re never given an explanation from the Buick’s existence.
I never quite bought the troop’s belief that destroying the Buick would unleash the power inside it.
I found the Buick boring for an alleged portal to another world. Most of the time it just sits in Shed B, dull and inactive. Sometimes it puts on a weird light show. Every once and a while some weird creature pops out of the trunk, already dead or dying. I didn’t like the sporadic manifestations. King could have made it a lot more interesting.
I think From a Buick 8 is a decent novel. I just wasn’t completely satisfied with the storyline. I don’t think it was as well thought out as King’s other work.