Blaze by Richard Bachman
You know how, when you meet an exceptional person, you feel honored to have been able to know them? You feel that you were lucky to have known them, to have been able to glimpse their life, to have been a part of it. Well, that is how I feel about Blaze. I feel honored to have known him for such a short time. I feel I was entrusted with the secrets of his past and his innermost thoughts, feelings, and fears.
Richard Bachman is one of Stephen King’s alter-ego’s I guess you could say. The story of Clayton Blaisdell Jr. (aka Blaze) was almost never published. The foreword of the book is by Stephen King himself, and it tells of how the manuscript had been sitting in a box since the 70’s. King would take it out on occasion, read it, and deem it worthless. Finally, he took it out, read it, and thought it was a pretty good story. I, for one, am glad he published this book.
The very first page of the book is a small excerpt from the story. It introduces you to Blaze. Actually, it is not as much about Blaze as it is about another kid, but it gives you a glimpse of the voyage you are about to embark on. After this small paragraph are the title page, copyright page, dedications, and foreword. Then, the real story begins…
The story is about Blaze, a simple-minded giant of a man with a heart bigger than thought capability. Blaze was not always this “dumb,” this was a gift from his drunken, abusive father. Blaze was never the leader in a group. He was never the thinker. He ran cons with guys who were smarter than him. However, when his friend George gets himself killed in a betting game, Blaze is left to think on his own. He decides to continue with George’s “one big con, and then out” scheme. He kidnaps the 6-month old baby of an extremely wealthy family. The idea is to get a large ransom for the child and then he can retire.
The book jumps from Blaze’s childhood to the present situation. As you are reading about his plans to kidnap the baby, you are learning how he came to this point.
I could not help but feel compassion for this big bear of a man. I found myself angry at the way he was treated by the adults in his life as he was growing up. I wanted this man to succeed. I knew throughout the book that kidnapping a baby was wrong, and I knew he would have to be caught…it would have to end. But I could not help wanting him to do well, to be okay.
Blaze was an amazing person (character). Again, I feel lucky to have accompanied him on his journey, however miserable it may have been.
There is a story at the end of this book. It is a glimpse of the next Stephen King book that will be published in 2008. I am choosing not to read this story. I do not want anything to take away from Blaze right now. I want to continue feeling close to him for the moment.