About two years ago I made a resolution to read more books or rather go back to the habit of reading a lot more than I currently was. It’s tougher to sit down and read more books these days. The internet is a huge distraction and then there’s all the movies and tv shows that I want to watch & rewatch. Besides I’d usually prefer to watch it rather than read about it. Some exceptions are there – like a Stephen King novel! You just can substitute the chills you get from reading his books that just has translated into the movies that have been made based on his stories.
Anyway the book in question is Needful Things a 19919 novel which was made into a movie two years later starring Max Von Sydow & Ed Harris. I haven’t seen it yet but hope to someday. The book, I just re-read for the 2nd time. The last time was quite a while back so I didn’t remember most of it. A mysterious proprietor named Leland Gaunt, claiming to be from Akron, Ohio,opens a new antiques store called “Needful Things” in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine. The gossip & interest about the new store even before it opens is true of an small town in any part of the world. The women call each other and spend an hour or so discussing the possibilities of what the store might offer for sale and what the name could possibly mean. A young boy is the first person to step in, in advance of the actual opening time but since he saw the sign shown as open, he just couldn’t resist and thus is the first in town to meet Mr Gaunt. The boy is thus also the first to be sold an item that he “just must have” and seemingly for much cheaper a price than it is actually valued. Mr. Gaunt sells the items to each customer at this low price in part exchange for a “favour” in the form of a prank to be played on someone in the same town.
Mr. Gaunt seems to have the oddest items in his store and each person seems to want one particular item that the shop owner just seems to have in his collection. aunt knows about the long-standing private grudges, arguments, and feuds between the various townspeople, and the pranks are his means of forcing them to escalate until the whole town is eventually caught up in madness and violence. The acts of violence & murder attract the investigation of the lead protagonist Sheriff Alan J. Pangborn Pangborn manages to stop the violence before the town destroys itself, and the townspeople admit their pranks, exposing Gaunt’s web of manipulation. The store with Leland Gaunt still inside is blown up but Gaunt, who is the Devil himself comes out unscathed. With a warning of meeting Panghorn’s grandson in the future, Leland/the Devil leaves in a mysterious black car. The novel ends as it begins, with a first-person narrative indicating that a new and mysterious shop is about to open in Paradise Falls, Iowa – an implication that Gaunt is ready to begin his business cycle all over again.
The book is quite length with typical King trademark of going into deep detail of several scenes and characters and thoughts behind some of these characters. You really need the patience to sit through this one, which most King fans do have. Well worth a read.