Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: the best book title ever

Dear Stephen King,

I love you. Have you heard? I love that you do not require me to make a commitment to a world outside of my own understanding, let me read a book in a few days, and manage to set stories in a very specific time by mentioning such cultural identifiers as Surge soda and Tubthumping, and that you don't require me to be a devoted fan to have a lot of fun with any individual book.

I really love The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, a short novel about a 9 year old girl who gets lost on the Appalachian trail. She strays from her mother and brother's bickering for a moment, and ends up having to fend for herself in the wilderness for quite a long time, to the tune of a few weeks. She hikes and falls, tries to sleep, wades through pretty large marshes, makes wrong turns that take her to Canada, and has a prolonged vomiting and other bodily emissions spell as her body adjusts to its primitive diet of nuts, berries, raw fish, and dirty stream water. Eventually, hallucinating like crazy, she finds her way to a forest road, she confronts the fear that has been chasing her through the woods, and a hunter finds her and takes her to the hospital. Although he's interested in putting her through a lot of pain, King is interested in letting the girl die... but in how she manages to live.

Although the book isn't mentioned or read in Lost, it was featured on a Lostpedia Stephen King connections list, and with good reason. The whole scenario of being thrown off the beaten path and surviving on your wits has been played with on Lost--There was plenty of survival questions being asked in Season 1 that the introduction of the Hatch sort of diverted us from.
Remember the good old days of Locke skinning boars (and the camera dwelling on it for long periods of time). Of Charlie trying to catch a fish to impress Shannon? Remember when everyone would sit around the fire and talk and the montage-y music would play and the camera would pan out to the stars? Sigh.

In The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, survival doesn't depend on society..the only other person out there is an hallucination. Trisha has her Walkman with her, and is able to tune in to Boston Red Sox games for a few days before the batteries run out. Tom Gordon, the relief pitcher, is her hero--she wears a Red Sox hat and his jersey while in the woods. She talks to him, and sees him with her every so often, and he keeps guiding her through the woods when she feels like giving up. Along with this good spirit, she also senses (and King hints spookily at) another, malevolent, presence, whom she decides is "The God of the Lost," who basically wants to get her and tear into tiny pieces. These visions, like those on LOST, serve a clear (albiet spooky purpose for the seer. Furthermore: both good and evil in the supernatural--since we don't know what is good and evil on LOST at this point, I'm going to make a guess that things like the Smoke Monster and Jacob are a little bit of both. There's even the slightest hint of a yearning for God: Trisha thinks back to her father's belief in "the subaudible", the spiritual essence in everything, and gets mad. The Subaudible isn't going to help you when you're lost in the woods for days on end--she needs real protection and more importantly, strength, and in Tom Gordon she gets it.
I guess it might be nice to mention, too, that King doesn't go very big in making up mythologies and supernatural stuff for this book (which I think makes it sort of unique for his work?)...which makes it kind of like Lost, in that its just enough to whet your whistle.

So basically it's great, there's survivalism, cultural context, good and evil, and a little yearning for divine protection. Thanks Stephen King! So what else is on our plate: I'm going to report on the Ransom trilogy (I just finished it! Yay!!), Aurora's still going to talk about trios and Harry Potter and other nerd things, and she's slogging through The Fountainhead while I slog through Our Mutual Friend. But as she pointed out recently, we've got 7 months to go. We've got plenty of time to get through lots more books.

A couple of tidbits, survivalism+Lost related.
I read a piece about Jeffrey Lieber, who gets created by credits, but envisioned the show as way more just about survivalist, Lord of the Flies type stuff. The article is a little whiny, but interesting. I Love The Monster, so...I can't be too sad he wasn't kept on.

ALSO: Yesterday I found out the Terry O'Quinn is from Newberry, Michigan!!! This explains so much! I've been there a few times. It's in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near Lake Superior, pretty far from much of anything, especially in the Very Very Snowy Winter. It's not hard to see how he could have some seriously engrained experience with big,scary woods and basic survival skills up there. As if it weren't already big enough, my love for him grows and grows. How could it not?... Bye!

1 comment:

Blairyposa said...

Interestingly enough when Ben wanted to show Jack that there was still hope of getting back to his world, he showed him clips of the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series. I know Stephen King is from New England (maine) but it seems a bit nerdy to have the Red Sox, in general, give survival hope, but it seems too much of a coincidence to overlook.