Monday, October 25, 2010

Cujo by Stephen King

Book Details
Cujo by Stephen King
Paperback, 320 Pages
1982, Signet
ISBN: 0451161351

Left to fend for herself by her workaholic husband, Donna Trenton takes her ailing Pinto to Joe Cambers's garage for repairs-only to be trapped with her son, Tad, in the sweltering car by the Cambers's once-friendly Saint Bernard, Cujo, now a monstrous and rabid killer

I saw the movie adaption of Cujo a few years ago and thought it was just kind of okay. With that kind of enthusiasm, I didn't expect much from the book. While the story isn't hugely scary (I have no fear of dogs, nor rabies), the book goes much deeper than the movie did, making the whole story more well-rounded and the ending that much more traumatic.

I'm confused as to how certain things mentioned in the book relate to the overall story. 4 year old Tad has a monster in his closet. It's made very clear that the monster isn't imaginary. But what did that have to do with Cujo going rabid? The same can be said for the town's previous killer Frank Dodd. He was mentioned numerous times, to the point where you expected him to have been reincarnated as Cujo or something similar. Was it just to show that bad things had happened in Castle Rock before? Any Stephen King fan knows, if something horrific is going to happen anywhere in the world, it's most likely going to happen in Castle Rock. So, what exactly was the point?

And could we have possibly had chapter breaks? This 300 plus page book had no chapters. While not a big deal to most, I found it unnerving. 

On the surface, Cujo is a killer dog story. But really, it's a story of a mother's fight for survival and the survival of her child. The long struggle, trapped by Cujo, shows the psychological fear of trying to figure out what to do to protect the child. The book includes much more in the way of backstory for the characters. We see the precarious place Vic and Donna's marriage is in, the trouble with Vic's job, the horrendous marriage of Joe and Charity and their fears about how their own son is growing up.

Cujo probably won't be considered truly horrific by most and has a few glaring loose ends that confuse more than annoy. It does, however, have an impressive psychological impact and will leave even the most hardened horror fans shaken.


Stephen King's website

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