Ah yes, Stephen King. The King of horror.
I’ve read a few of his other works including “It”, “Different Seasons”, and “Hearts In Atlantis” to name a few. While all of those works are creepy and wonderful, they are also extremely long.
Joyland is different.
You see, Joyland is much shorter and to the point. It’s simple. And it deserves to be because it’s about an image we along the California highways or every summer when it rolls through town: an amusement park.
Maybe I’m biased because I’m a carni so I know a lot about what is being said already, but King doesn’t overcomplicate anything. You have enough information to know what’s going on and how things appear. This is a mystery/horror/thriller. It’s the type of book that creeps up on you. You’ll laugh as you read and say to yourself that it’s not that scary and it’s just as campy as the State Fair you just attended. But then you turn off your lights to go to bed and a shiver goes down your spine as you picture the images that were laid out in front of you. Perhaps you convince yourself that finishing the novel will help you sleep better. It’s just a few more chapters. So you keep reading and finish feeling satisfied and in control. But no matter what there is an uneasy feeling that lingers.
This is the art of Stephen King. This is Joyland. It puts the fun in “fun park” and takes us back in time to a theme park that, today, would be a popular exploration spot for Youtubers.
I’ve read it twice this summer and it is one of my favorite pieces by the King. 5/5
This is my third year working at the state fair.
This is my third year serving people in extreme conditions-people who judge me and, more often than not, can’t even look me in the eye.
This is my third year servings sodas I don’t drink and food I don’t eat and lying through my teeth.
This is the first year I’ve made a friend that actually makes me want to go to work.
My coworkers are great- I love my runner and he is perfectly quirky and fun and always greets me with a smile no matter how hot it is. He is the one I radio when I’m swamped with customers and am in need of backup.
This is not the friend I am referring to.
I am talking about a guy who works at another stand and comes by twice a day to buy a Mr. Pibb. I forced a little bit of conversation out of him and now he comes by every day. And, every time he comes by I give him his soda and we talk for the duration of his break. Sometimes that’s 30 minutes, sometimes it’s 10 depending on our schedules. But since I’ve met this person, the lump in my throat that forms when I walk through the main gate every day is gone.
I actually dread when I don’t have work because I enjoy this other person’s presence so much.
This is not a crush. Don’t confuse it with that. This is a reminder that a not-so-fun situation can be turned around with the help of other people. I made a friend this year. A friend that I intend on keeping because he understands standing in 100 degree heat and he understands the cool drunk people that try too hard to be your friend for a free whatever.
Each job we are a part of, the “outsiders” may understand to an extent, but unless they have been there with you, they will never 100% get it. I have never met another carni who shares a similar experience and feels the conflicting love-hate relationship of the carni life. Until now. And for that I am forever grateful.
So for those of us that dread work- be it a day or a week or a sale- find some one who gets it. I promise you it makes all the difference.