The Dark Tower:
Part Two Chapter 10.i-12.xix
Fuck. I wasn’t ready for this. Even though I knew it was going to happen, even though I’ve read it and reread it all before, I still wasn’t ready. Eddie Dean of New York is dead. O’ Discordia.
The ka-tet is broken, my favorite member gone, and all that remains is another three hundred pages of more misery and sorrow. This year-long endeavor is going to end—as I always knew it would—with me saying goodbye to one fictional friend each week until all but one are gone. And the one that does survive—old long, tall, and ugly—will find a fate worse than death. The rest of this book is going to be a bummer.
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Eddie. I never am. Of all the characters in the series, he always felt the most real to me, the most flesh and blood. On the surface he is reminiscent of someone you used to know, that funny guy you worked with one summer at the movie theater, or the class clown you went to high school with. Then, as you get to know him over the course of these novels, he becomes more than that. He becomes your brother, your best friend, someone you know deeply enough to understand how they’re built, the machinery inside them. That (along with his wisecracks) is the reason he’s my favorite, and it’s the reason that I fucking hate reading this part of this book…
In fact, I hate it so much, it feels like my brain won’t allow me to actually process the words. Those of you who heard me on the series overview episode of Kingslingers know that this is the book in the series with which I am least familiar. I have read it the least amount of times, relative to the other books, and every time I have read it, I can never seem to retain anything beyond this point in the story.
I remember the broad strokes, the plot points, and the pain. I understand what happens in the story, but the details? The texture and the mechanics? They are all lost on me. When I started this project last September, one of my personal goals was to really dig into this final book and examine the text thoroughly. Now that I’m here, I find myself shutting down again. I did this week’s reading, I promise I did, but it all seemed to pass through my mind like a speeding train, moving too fast for me to get a good look at it and then gone.
Why do I do this? Why am I incapable of absorbing this portion of my favorite work of fiction? Do I block out the rest of the book because I am too sad, busy mourning Eddie to pay proper attention? Perhaps. After all, it’s not dissimilar to Susannah’s reaction to Eddie’s death. She bows out of the next part of the story, declining to participate in what is arguably their most crucial mission, because she needs time to sit in her sadness. Maybe like her, I just need to take some time and wallow before I can bring myself to continue on the quest.
Ted: “Will Susannah—”– The Dark Tower, p. 329
“No,” Roland said. “Susannah will stay here, and you’ll help her bury Eddie.
But maybe my mental block has to do with more than just mourning my favorite character. The first time I read this series, I had finally reached the last book and was just about halfway through when I had the ending spoiled for me. Long story short, my brother—who hadn’t read the series and had no context for what he was actually revealing—decided to flip to the last page of the book and read the last line out loud. It was not cool. I immediately tried to tell myself that he had made it up, that he was joking, that nothing had been ruined… but it had been. There was no un-punching that ticket. Could it be that I detach myself from the story at this point, because this is where it was spoiled for me?
Or is there a much simpler explanation for why I’ve never been able to lock into this portion of the text? Is it possible that the rest of this book just actually isn’t very good? Maybe I have a hard time paying attention and can’t remember any of the details because the rest of the story is boring and the details are forgettable. It feels like blasphemy to even write that, but we also can’t pretend this series is perfect.
So why keep reading? Why finish? Why put myself through that?
Besides the fact that I committed myself to writing this blog and it would be pretty pathetic to give up with so little left to go, I’m having trouble coming up with a good answer. Why bother? Why not just sit the rest out?
For me, there is a sense of duty and obligation in these last three hundred pages. I don’t want to read them because I don’t want to give life to a part of the story so filled with death. But to close the book here and cry off doesn’t feel right either. To me, that would an insult Eddie, and to the whole ka-tet. To put these people—who I know are not real, but who I love as though they were—through all these hardships yet again, only to give up when I start having a tough time with things… It seems selfish to me.
“You mustn’t use your good-mind to steal my grief,” Susannah told him, “for I’d open my mouth and drink it to the dregs. Every drop.”– The Dark Tower, p. 315
So I will read on, and try to absorb as much as I can, just as I have on each of my previous trips to the tower, and just as I will on the next one.