Desperation (Sep 1996)

Desperation is a story about several people who, while traveling along the desolated Highway 50 in Nevada, get abducted by Collie Entragian, the deputy of the fictional mining town of Desperation. Entragian uses various pretexts for the abductions, from an arrest for drug possession to "rescuing" a family from a nonexistent gunman. It becomes clear to the captives that Entragian has been possessed by an evil being named Tak, who has control over the surrounding desert wildlife and must change hosts to keep itself alive. They begin to fight for their freedom, sanity and lives before realizing that if they are ever to escape Desperation, they must trap Tak in the place from where he came. This book was published at the same time as its mirror novel, The Regulators.

Common King themes:

  • Main character is a writer (Johnny Marinville is a National Book Award winner and almost won the Nobel Prize for literature. Fun fact: his motorcycle tour across America is directly based on Stephen King's own tour, for Insomnia, in 1994.)
  • Someone is called "Sunny Jim" (Well, close enough. Entragian calls Johnny "Lord Jim.")

Desperation has connections to the following books:

Part I / Chapter 1 / Section 3 : Yellow Smiley Face

Peter's sister Dierdre puts a smiley face sticker on everything, including the bag of weed that gets Peter and Mary arrested.

The big cop gave him a look, those bright gray eyes still peculiarly empty, then reached into the spare-tire well and brought out a Baggie, a big one, a gallon-size, and stuffed full of greenish-brown herbal matter. The flap had been sealed with strapping tape. Plastered on the front was a round yellow sticker. Mr. Smiley-Smile.

Part I / Chapter 4 / Section 2 : Cynthia Smith

“Then, yeah. Later on I was a guitar tech. Now, I’m ...” Yes, that was a good start, but just what was he now? Not a guitar tech, that was for sure. Sort of demoted to roadie again. Also part-time shrink. Also sort of like Mary Poppins, only with long brown hippie hair that was starting to show some gray along the center part. “Now I’m into something else. What’s your name?” “Cynthia Smith,” she said, and held out a hand. He shook it. Her hand was long, feather-light inside of his, and incredibly fine-boned. It was a little like shaking hands with a bird. “I’m Steve Ames.”

Part II / Chapter 1 / Section 5 : Paul Sheldon

It is revealed that Ellen Carver is a fan of Paul Sheldon's Misery series.

Was she the Ellen Carver who picked her nicest clothes out of the Boston Proper catalogue and wore Red perfume when she was feeling amorous and had a funny rhinestone tee-shirt that said QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE? The Ellen Carver who had raised two lovely children and had kept her man when those all about her were losing theirs? The one who examined her breasts for lumps once every six weeks or so, the one who liked to curl up in the living room on weekend nights with a cup of hot tea and a few chocolates and paperbacks with titles like Misery in Paradise?

Part III / Chapter 3 / Section 2 : Tommyknockers

Billingsley tells David that the cause of the cave-in at the China Pit is rumored to have been caused by Tommyknockers.

"There are all kinds of stories about it. One is that they dug up a waisin, a kind of ancient earth-spirit, and it tore the mine down. Another is that they made the tommyknockers mad.” “What’re tommyknockers?” David asked. “Troublemakers,” Johnny said. “The underground version of gremlins.”

References will be here!