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Blaze: A Novel by Richard Bachman
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Blaze: A Novel (edition 2008)

by Richard Bachman, Stephen King (Foreword)

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2,709842,177 (3.45)102
Member:jhnhoc
Title:Blaze: A Novel
Authors:Richard Bachman
Other authors:Stephen King (Foreword)
Info:Pocket Books (2008), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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Blaze by Richard Bachman

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The story concerns Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. (known as "Blaze" for short, thus the title), a mentally challenged small-time con artist who kidnaps a millionaire's infant child, in the hopes of fulfilling the dreams of George Thomas Rackley, Blaze's deceased best friend and partner in crime. The chapters alternate between Blaze's past — which covers his childhood (including how he came to be brain damaged) and his entry into a life of crime despite an otherwise sweet demeanor — and his current caper, in which he imagines that he is still constantly advised by his friend George. Despite the helpfulness of (the imaginary) George's advice, Blaze's world begins to crumble during his kidnapping venture, especially as he bonds with the baby. In the end, Blaze runs from his inevitable destiny back to the horrors of his old orphanage, the Hetton House. After the cops storm it, he rushes to a cave, where the baby is nearly killed, and Blaze ends up killing two policemen. He is killed by a police officer, and is buried only a few miles away from where his father lived.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
This was just ok. I am a big Stephen King fan, but I just wasn't thrilled with this one. ( )
  Jadedog13 | Feb 3, 2016 |
Clayton Blaisdell Jr, nicknamed Blaze, is a mentally disabled giant of a man; he’s 6ft 7in and “not quite” 300 lbs. His best – and only current – friend is George; a con man and bad influence on him. It’s George who urges Blaze into the life of crime that he’s living now, who, in fact, teaches Blaze how to live the life. Their dream is that one big score that will let them retire. That’s where the idea of kidnapping a baby comes in. But this will not be the Lindbergh kidnapping; Blaze never hurts anyone (unless provoked and defending himself) and he is not about to hurt a little baby.

The story takes place in “America, not all that long ago.” It’s not specifically post-war America, but there are no cell phones. The plot moves back and forth between the kidnapping caper and Blaze’s childhood. We learn about his alcoholic father who abused him, the orphanage where he grew up, the foster family that misused him, the petty thieves who “befriended” him so they could use his size and basic naiveté to their own purposes.

To King’s credit, he keeps these two plots moving, building tension and explaining the underlying pathology that results in the final tragedy. The language is rough and graphic. The scenes of abuse made me cringe and want to beat the &*%^ # out of those who used their power to create the adult Blaze. Once again, King has created a character who is not necessarily likeable, but who captures the reader’s sympathy.

It’s worthwhile to read the forward by Stephen King who explains this “trunk novel,” which is copyrighted in 2007. When King was first starting out he wrote different genres under different names. He had been very successful in the horror genre with his own name, so he used Richard Bachman for non-horror books from about 1966 to 1973. This was the last book “Bachman” wrote. But THIS book didn’t ever get published. Fast forward to 2005 when King, now an incredibly successful author, comes across this manuscript in a cardboard carton. He looks it over; it’s okay but not great. But he cannot forget this story. His original is too “weepy,” and not hard boiled enough; but, there is a kernel of a good book there. It is not horror; it’s not noir; so what is it? He reworks it, and what we have is a “minor tragedy of the underclass,” a sort of homage to Of Mice and Men.

McLarty is nothing short of wonderful as the performer of this audio book. His ability to give life to the various characters through use of different pitch and/or accent is remarkable. I was never confused when two characters had conversations because he gave each a unique voice. Bravo! ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 25, 2016 |
This is a really sweet and touching novel. It's essentially about betrayal. So Blaze is first betrayed by his father when he throws him down the stairs, then the state, then by God when he kills Bluenote with a heart attack and finally by his 'friends' when they lead him into crime, until finally Blaze betrays himself. Well worth a read. ( )
  Lukerik | May 13, 2015 |
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Epigraph
These are the slums of the heart. -- John D. MacDonald
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For Tommy and Lori Spruce, And thinking of James T. Farrell
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George was somewhere in the dark.
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Chronicles the life and times of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr.--the crimes committed against him and the crimes he himself commits, including a kidnapping he is doomed to attempt.

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