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From a Buick 8 : A Novel by Stephen King
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From a Buick 8 : A Novel (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Stephen King

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4,579531,047 (3.28)1 / 97
Member:tarheel
Title:From a Buick 8 : A Novel
Authors:Stephen King
Info:(2002), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Audio Books
Rating:*
Tags:horror, new england, 2000's, dark tower, small town, close encounters, cars, haunted

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From A Buick 8 by Stephen King (2001)

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English (51)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (53)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
This book has a lot more personal philosophy to impart rather than horror. This is about growing old. This is about mysteries in life. This is about sticking to duty. This is about the chains that we can feel but rarely know. The Buick 8 pulls up to the gas pumps at a full-serve gas station in Western Pennsylvania in 1979. While the statio attendant is filling the tank, the driver walks around to the back of the station and...disappears. The local police, two Pennsylvania State Troopers named Ennis Rafferty and Curtis Wilcox from Troop D, show up and almost immediately notice that this car isn't...right. For one thing, it can't be driven. And...it hums. You can't really hear it, but it's there. Troop D takes custody of it and they watch it. This is one Buick 8 that bears watching. And guarding. Whatever it is, it's not a car. Worse than that, it breathes. It exhales things out into our world and inhales things in to...who knows where. You don't want to know, and you don't want to go there. You won't come back. The car becomes Troop D's family secret, kept in Shed B and quietly but vigilantly guarded. When Wilcox is killed in a senseless accident in the fall of 2001, Ned, his 18 year old son, begins doing odd jobs around the barracks, trying to hold onto his father's memory. Ned discovers the car and the story behind it and he wants to know more. And the car is ready to give him far, far more than he will ever want.

"From A Buick 8" is a wonderfully gripping read, full of the creepy crawlies, but mostly it's a moving, melancholy meditation on time and loss. Give this book a try, it's a great read.
( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
One of the better novels I've read by him. Horror and aliens mix in King's typical small-town scenario.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
If I didn't have to drive right now I would never finish a book these days - it's the only time I get to read/listen. This just plodded. Underwhelming. Bound to happen to him sometimes! ( )
  MaureenCean | Feb 2, 2016 |
Stephen King tends to get hammered in the press and by literati. He’s pulp, they say. He’s popular, they say. Nobody can be as productive (he publishes an average of two books per year) and still write quality, they say. I remember starting college in Boston in 1988, shortly after U2 released their huge Joshua Tree album. The established U2 fans rejected it outright as a ’sell out’. They couldn’t believe that their heroes sold out to ‘the man’ and became… popular. I think King gets painted with a similar brush.

But the truth is, much of his writing resonates quite deeply. His work can be touching. It’s relatable, and has as much symbolism and depth as one chooses to see. Is everything he touches great? No. But as a rule, is it schlock? Absolutely not.

I only discovered Stephen King as an adult. And over the last few years, I’ve been working through his catalog, kicking myself for not having given him a chance sooner. Fortunately, I have a whole lot to look forward to.

From a Buick 8 was published in 2002. The actual writing took place in 1999 and was finished shortly before it was published, bracketing King’s well-publicized auto accident, which almost took his life. The story’s emotional focal point centers on the accidental death of a police officer, Curt Wilcox, who was killed by a drunk driver while investigating a truck’s mechanical problem on the side of the road. The exposition surrounding the officer’s death is detailed and pain-laden, and I couldn’t help but view my analysis of the story through the lens of King’s accident until I got to the author’s notes where King is swift to point out that the scenes of the accident were written before his own and were only moderately edited after. It was just coincidence, which brings us to the crux of King’s story. How much in life has a natural beginning and end? How many of the threads of our existence have a natural continuance or succession? How much happens that is explainable or simple coincidence?

From a Buick 8 is equal parts science fiction, horror and Lovecraftian ode. Many readers anticipate that the eponymous Buick is a sort of “son of” Christine — the evil car gone amok in his 1983 novel (and movie), but this is not the case. Stephen King’s 1953 Buick Roadmaster has nothing to do with Stephen Kings’s 1958 Plymouth Fury.

When the story begins, it’s 1979 and a stranger in a black jacket pulls into a gas station in rural PA. He asks for a fill up, indicates he needs no oil and heads to the john. 30 minutes pass, the strange man never returns, and leaves his Buick 8 behind. Local Police Troop D is brought in and the mystery is off and running. The car is like nothing anyone’s seen. It has no functional parts, sucks the heat out of the shed in which it sits, and belches horrible creatures from its trunk.

From a Buick 8’s narrative thread focuses on Officer Wilcox’s son, Ned, several months after his father’s death in 2001. The story is a journey taken together by two characters: Ned, and the current Chief Commanding of Troop D, Sandy Dearborn. The journey is one that covers time rather than space as vignettes connect the past and present of Troop D’s interactions and investigations of the Buick over the years. It’s Ned’s journey of understanding and acceptance. It’s Sandy’s story of reconciliation with what the Buick means and the role it’s played in the collective past of Troop D.

Sandy’s journey started years ago but doesn’t end until the present. Ned’s is happening in the narrative real time.

There’s much sitting around and talking… telling stories, drinking and eating. One might make a symbolic connection to the Last Supper: Jesus (who is probably Sandy, but could also be Ned at times), surrounded by disciples (the other officers and caretakers), mostly younger but some the same age, who sit at his feet while he tells tales and waxes poetic. King even references that the storytelling group appears to look like a “little council of elders… surrounding the young fellow, singing him our warrior-songs of the past.”

The real theme of From a Buick 8 is about learning how to let go. Let go of the past… Let go of blame… Let go of finding fault and reason and answers. Chief Sandy uses the imagery of a chain when discussing cause and effect. And his idea of a chain surrounds, ties, and binds the story and characters. For example, the gas station attendant who witnesses the man in the black coat leave the Buick is the same person who, years later, hits and kills Curtis Wilcox.

Sandy considers:

I didn’t know about reasons, only about chains — how they form themselves, link by link, out of nothing; how they knit themselves into the world. Sometimes you can grab a chain and use it to pull yourself out of a dark place. Mostly, though, I think you get wrapped up in them. Just caught, if you’re lucky. Fucking strangled, if you’re not.

Is there simply cause and effect? Ned’s father’s death is suggestive of nothing beyond coincidence. The book sets the tone with the following quote from Sandy regarding Curtis’ death:

If there was a God, there’d be a reason. If there was a God, there’d be some kind of thread running through it. But there isn’t. Not that I can see.

This story didn’t have the emotional depth that makes King’s memorable work… well, memorable. Despite the incorporation of a dog who senses evil and a teenager whose father just died in a violent accident, it just didn’t touch me.

The elements of horror are definitely creepy. There are some gross-out moments, but nothing flat-out scary. Lovecraftian ‘cosmic horror’ is a place King loves to go. But Lovecraft, for all of his bombast and grandeur, had a certain subtlety about his pacing and finales. Lovecraft is all about the glimpse… the merest horrified glimmer of ‘eldritch horrors’ that one sees in the periphery. King, for all of his own vivid visualizations, is not beyond that Lovecraftian subtlety.

Sandy thinks back on the first time he entered the shed where Troop D kept the Buick:

In the twenty-odd years that followed that day, he would go inside Shed B dozens of times, but never without the rest of that dark mental wave, never without the intuition of almost-glimpsed horrors, of abominations in the corner of the eye.

And King always works one or two Lovecraft code words into his work. In this case, I didn’t catch a reference to ‘cyclopean’ structures, but I did see something that was “lit up a pallid, somehow eldritch yellow.”

From a Buick 8 ends in very Lovecraftian fashion, which will disappoint people who desire a very conclusive and explosive finish. If you’ve read later-era Stephen King, you’ll relate the ending in From a Buick 8 to the big finale in Revival. It’s pretty dramatic, but King doesn’t give it to you: he leads you to the water and you have to drink it in. But he does this with a very clear purpose. Some things end and have a clear conclusion. And sometimes things just don’t. Ned searches for an answer to his father’s accidental death. Of course, there is no answer. Things happen. Sometimes bad things. Sandy, our own personal Pennsylvania Jesus, tells Ned at one point:

Sometimes there’s nothing to learn, or no way to learn it, or no reason to even try. I saw a movie once where this fellow explained why he lit a candle in church even though he wasn’t a very good Catholic anymore. “You don’t fuck around with the infinite,” he said. Maybe that was the lesson…

This is a good book. Not one of my favorites from King, but enjoyable and uncharacteristically short. If you’re a King fan you’ll enjoy it, though it may not be tremendously memorable. If you’re a Lovecraft fan, you’ll enjoy it as well. ( )
  JGolomb | Jan 7, 2016 |
King not even getting out of third gear in a a classic tale of small town Americana, full of iced tea and 'right-back-atchas'. As always with King, there is a darkness looming in the background. However, From A Buick 8 fails to present the Constant Reader with any memorable characters and feels like an extended short story. Worth a read nevertheless. ( )
  deckehoe | Nov 27, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Give this much to Stephen King: He doesn't sit on his laurels and rely on formulas.

Yes, "From a Buick 8" is about an evil car, in a manner of speaking. And yes, King trod that ground years ago with "Christine," which was engaging if mediocre. But this latest novel is different in many ways — in topic, style and in the way King chooses to tell his story.
added by stephmo | editAssociated Press, Ted Anthony (Oct 13, 2002)
 
Is From a Buick 8 Stephen King's last real novel? He insists as much, and -- bad sign -- his latest main character is a dissatisfied storyteller. A Pennsylvania state trooper fills a mournful teen in on the confounding history of a grinning, otherworldly Roadmaster that may or may not have offed the boy's father.
 
IT must get exhausting, inventing monstrous evils year in and year out, especially the sort of ancient, supernatural forces that start by insinuating themselves into the fabric of everyday life and grow to threaten everything sane and decent before being vanquished, against all odds, by a valiant band of unlikely heroes. You can see why Stephen King, who has done this many times, might get tired of it, might look around him at a world that certainly enjoys no shortage of terrors as it is, and write a book like ''From a Buick 8.''
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Laura Miller (Sep 29, 2002)
 
Back in 1983, Stephen King tried to send a collective shiver through his audience with "Christine," a novel about a killer hot rod that could mow down unsuspecting pedestrians all by itself. Despite some effective scenes, that book proved to be one of his sillier offerings.
 
Stephen King was driving from Florida to Maine in 1999 when nature called. He pulled off the highway, found a gas station and used the restroom. Then he walked behind the building and lost his footing, sliding down a slope and almost landing in a stream. That was when nature -- his nature -- called upon him to dream up ''From a Buick 8.''
added by stephmo | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Sep 23, 2002)
 

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Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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Book description
The novel is a series of recollections by the members of Troop D, a police barracks in Western Pennsylvania. After Curtis Wilcox, a well-liked member of Troop D, is killed by a drunk driver, his son Ned begins to visit Troop D. The cops, the dispatcher and the custodian quickly take a liking to him, and soon begin telling him about the "Buick 8" of the title. It is in some sense a ghost story in the way that the novel is about a group of people telling an old but unsettling tale. And while the Buick 8 is not a traditional ghost, it is indeed not of their world.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743417682, Mass Market Paperback)

Stephen King, an evil car, and a teenage boy coming to terms with the fragility and randomness of life.... Wait, haven't we read this before? Diehard King fans, worry not. Aside from the titular car playing a main role in the story, From a Buick 8 could not be less like King's 1983 masterpiece, Christine. If anything, this story resembles King's serial novel The Green Mile, with reminiscing police characters flashing back on bizarre events that took place decades earlier.

The book's intriguing plot revolves around the troopers of Pennsylvania State Patrol Troop D, who come into possession of what at first appears to be a vintage automobile. Closer inspection and experimentation conducted by the troopers reveal that this car's doors (and trunk) sometimes open to another dimension populated by gross-out creatures straight out of ... well, a Stephen King novel. As the plot progresses, the veteran troopers' tales of these visits from interdimensional nasties, and the occasional "lightquakes" put on by the car, are passed on to the son of a fallen comrade whose fascination with the car bordered on dangerous obsession.

Unlike earlier King works, there is no active threat here; no monster is stalking the heroes of the story, unless you count the characters' own curiosity. In past books, King has terrorized readers with vampires, werewolves, a killer clown, ghosts, and aliens, but this time around, the bogeyman is a more passive, cerebral threat, and one for which they don't make a ready-to-wear Halloween costume--man's fascination with and fear of the unknown. While some readers may find this tale less exciting than the horror master's earlier works, From a Buick 8 is a wonderful example of how much King's plotting skills and literary finesse have matured over his long career. And, most of all, it's a darn creepy book. --Benjamin Reese

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:31 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Eighteen-year-old Ned, having taken to hanging out at the barracks of state police Troop D in rural Pennsylvania after the death of his father, Trooper Curtis Wilcox, becomes obsessed with learning the truth about a 1954 Buick Roadmaster--apparently a conduit to the underworld--the squad has had secreted in a locked shed since 1979 when its owner mysteriously disappeared.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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