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The Long Walk by Stephen King

The Long Walk (original 1979; edition 1999)

by Stephen King

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Title:The Long Walk
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1999), Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Long Walk by Stephen King (1979)

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Showing 1-5 of 63 (next | show all)
This tale takes place in the future, I'm not entirely sure when King has this marked for but it sure as hell isn't present day. You've got 100 teens and you tell them that you have to walk at a consistent pace of 4 miles per hour until you just cannot do it any longer. While you're allowed 3 warnings (you’re never quite sure the length allowed before a warning is issued but I can only assume it's about 30 seconds) before you're eliminated, you need to walk for an hour straight to clear your warning. For those that are not math geniuses, if you obtain 3 warnings, you need to walk for 3 hours to clear your slate.

**Oh, and you're eliminated by having your head blown off by armed soldiers who are forever on the sidelines. So, you're under a wee bit of pressure.

You know, as far fetched as this plot seems to be, it's not that insane that it couldn't happen. I know the thought of this occurring today is going to be as acceptable as Snooki playboy centerfold but for those with nothing to loose, why not give it a shot? It’s not like the prize at the end of the game isn’t worth it? C'mon, it's anything you could ever want for the rest of your life! ANYTHING. How attractive is that?

Hey, I'm not advocating that this event be started, from a society standpoint, I really don't understand its purpose. Yes, it could be interesting to watch provided you're not killing everyone off. That's just destroying a segment of your population that could actually work to achieve something. Then again, it's not like the human race hasn't proven they're capable of murdering large numbers of innocent people in the past.

As the story progresses, King poses to the reader - is the prize really worth it? Isn't escaping with your life enough? The truth is all these characters got into this situation believing that they were going to win - no debating that. The thing is, you couldn't even begin to fathom the sheer amount of pain or exhaustion you would endure. Yes, on paper - it said "walk until you drop" (or something like that) but can your brain really comprehend that? With teens, most have a feeling of immortality; that you would be the first 15 year old that would live forever. Death is just a concept at this point, not an inevitability. The feeling that you were going to confront your own death didn't really hold the type of weight that a person of greater age might feel - besides, as I said earlier, there was no way you were going to loose, right? Probably the reason the contest is marketed towards teens.

As of yet, I’ve yet to come across an author who can write such relaxing prose. Even when putting the reader in high tension situations, you always feel in control of the story. Usually, I’m not one for gore or the fad of “torture porn” but King writes in a way that lets the reader come up with his own vision of the situation rather than beat you over the head with graphic imagery. He’s subtle. That’s what I love about him.

There’s someone I work with who says he just cannot get into King because when I describe a book to him, it always sounds “too weird” for him – he says he has a weak stomach. King just uses the walk and the constant death throughout as a backdrop – he wants to craft compelling characters and ask the reader questions of morality. Could you support the walk? Could you be so selfish to risk your life for the achievement of ultimate greed?

The ending. I didn't particularly enjoy the ending all that much until I read online about what other people thought. If it is what people seem to think it is, I'm immensely satisfied. I must say, I'm 100% turned around on it.

All in all, maybe I’m looking too much into it and it’s just a written adaptation for The Proclaimers, “500 miles”. I swear to God, if that song gets stuck in my head again, I’m going to lose my mind.

  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
The Long Walk was original published under Stephen King's pseudonym, Richard Bachman. It's about, well, a long walk. But not just any long walk, 100 young men start, and only one finishes. The penalty for losing? A trip home in a body bag. The rules are pretty simple: fall off of a 4 mph pace, and you get warned. One can carry up to 3 warnings, and shed them at a rate of one per hour. There is no 4th warning, instead soldiers shoot you dead.

The book follows one of these young men, as he meets others that will soon be dead. The prize for winning is staggering, riches and wishes. But there can be only one. This long walk apparently is an annual event, crossing the state of Maine and heading south into New England.

The stories of other walkers are brief. For the most part, we really never know or understand their motives. While the prize is fabulous, it seems like the winners will probably be scarred for life, and probably wouldn't enjoy their victory. Considering what is at stake, one would expect more competitive hostility, but relations between most of the walkers are unusually supportive. Despite the length, we don't meet all of the casualties, some are merely shots heard in the rear. Others have their deaths chronicled in gruesome detail.

With anyone but King, this would have been a short story taken way to far. It still left me with more questions than answers, though. ( )
  JeffV | Mar 2, 2014 |
Speechless doesn't really cut it.
I didn't really know what I was getting myself into reading this book but oh my.
What a roller coaster ride!
I almost fell off my bed when I realised what a ticket was at the beginning of the book. Then there were moments when it felt too real and my heart was beating simultaneously with Garraty's.
It was only four days but it wasn't just four days. They all grew old; dying together.
The Musketeers, they were wonderful and heartbreaking. Just Oh MY.

"It's time to sit down"

^^This broke my heart

I love this book and I'm dreadfully glad I own it so I can re-read it anytime.
( )
  bethie-paige | Jan 29, 2014 |
This novel is remarkable because it's one of the first Stephen King ever wrote even though it wasn't published until after Carrie (1974). It's also remarkable because it's a darn good story that dwells in the imagination.

The premise is insane: A group of boys compete in a walk-till-ya-drop competition where the winner wins everything he's ever wanted and the rest "get their ticket punch"—which is a nice euphemism for dying by gunfire. Once you buy into this crazy dystopian scenario you won't be able to put it down until the shocking end. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Jan 16, 2014 |
The Long Walk

By Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)

(4/5 stars)

This was the first Stephen King book I'd ever read. Some "friends" recommended that it was one of his best, so I thought I'd give it a try. Before this my only real exposure to the horror genre was reading Poe in high school. Overall I found this to be a good reading experience, though it was a little long and the end was disappointing.

Every year, 100 teenage boys go through The Long Walk, a competition of endurance and survival. They start near the Canadian border in Maine (being a King book, where else would it start?) and go through New Hampshire, possibly into Massachusetts if anyone survives. The winner receives a Prize, wherein supposedly they receive everything they could ever want. The only drawback is that if you don't win, you die. Get three warnings in a row and you get executed.

So the rules are simple: keep walking or die. There are no stops to use the bathroom or sleep or eat or get a foot massage. You walk all day and all night until you stop walking and die. It's sort of like the Tour de France then if the bikers had to keep riding 24 hours a day and the losers were all killed. The contest is broadcast on TV and is a huge thing in Vegas. Throngs of people show up on the sidelines to cheer on the Walkers, showing little concern even as the losers are shot on live TV. (A similar premise to another King story, "The Running Man." With reality TV the way it is today, is such a thing really so implausible? I think not.)

In the current year's competition is young Ray Garrarty, a local boy from a small town in Maine. His father was abducted years ago by "the Squads", some kind of fascist secret police. (The story takes place in an alternate history where either the US lost WWII or otherwise turned into a fascist state. It's not entirely clear what happened, but there is mention of Germans bombing the US east coast and a raid on a German nuclear plant in Santiago in the '50s.) Ray has since lived with his mother and has a girlfriend named Jan. But for whatever reason he signs up for the Long Walk along with 99 other boys from around the country. He bonds with some of them like the cynical McVries and the weirdly prophetic Stebbins even as they are ostensibly trying to kill each other. They face a variety of physical challenges like steep hills, cramps, and fever but the real challenge is the mental fatigue from pushing on while watching all the people around you drop and die. Can Ray make it to the end? And what then?

I thought this book probably would have worked better as a short story or novella. At 370 pages it's a little too long. It sort of sets into this pattern of they walk for a while, someone gets shot, they talk to each other, some more people get shot. Yadda, yadda, yadda. What saves it though is the bonding between Ray, McVries, and the other characters as they become well-fleshed characters. You really do want to see who's going to make it and who isn't.

The end was disappointing, ending with a whimper instead of a bang. After going so far, I was really hoping for something a little more epic when it gets down to the last handful of people, but instead King/Bachman wraps up the last stage in just a couple of pages. So it seems like a lot of buildup for little payoff.

Still, it was a good book and makes me want to get my copy of "The Green Mile" off the shelf.

That is all. ( )
  ptdilloway | Nov 21, 2013 |
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This is for Jim Bishop and Burt Hatlen and Ted Holmes
First words
An old blue Ford pulled into the guarded parking lot that morning, looking like a small, tired dog after a hard run.
To me the Universe was all void of Life, or Purpose, of Volition, even of Hostility; it was one huge, dead, immeasurable Steam-engine, rolling on , in its dead indifference, to grind me limb from limb. O vast, gloomy, solitary Golgatha, and Mill of Death! Why was the Living banished thither companionless, conscious? Why, if there is no Devil; nay, unless the Devil is your God." - Thomas Carlyle
"I would encourage every American to walk as often as possible. It's more that healthy; it's fun" - John F. Kennedy (1962)
"THe pump don't work 'Cause the vandals took the handle." - Bob Dylan
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Every year, on the first of May, one hundred teenage boys meet for an event known throughout the country as "The Long Walk." Among this year's chosen crop is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty. He knows the rules: that warnings are issued if you fall under speed, stumble, sit down. That after three warnings...you get your ticket. And what happens then serves as a chilling reminder that there can be only one winner in the Walk - the one that survives... (0-451-19671-6)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451196716, Mass Market Paperback)

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as ?The Long Walk.? If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as ?The Long Walk.? If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:57:21 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In a futuristic America ruled by ultraconservatives one hundred of the nation's hardiest boys must endure a five-hundred-mile marathon race in order to win fame and fortune

(summary from another edition)

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