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The Long Walk (Richard Bachman)

A 1979 novel written by Stephen King under the nom de plume Richard Bachman.

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A Futuristic Chiller

  • Jun 19, 2010

What would be the ultimate form of entertainment?  What would not only push the envelope, but shred it to pieces?  These are two questions the early Stephen King novel  The Long Walk (written as Richard Bachman) strives to answer.  Set in a bleak future that is governed by a shadowy, vague figure called The Major, The Long Walk takes the reader on a journey where we see a nation's lust for entertainment fed by a high-stakes walking competition.

Our main character, Ray Garraty, is a sixteen-year-old average joe.  He, along with ninety-nine other boys, have been selected out of a lottery-style drawing to participate in The Long Walk.  The Rules are straightforward: walk at 4 MPH (or faster, but never slower); go under that limit too many times, and you'll be given your ticket.  A seemingly simple premise.  Once you add in the factors of new found friends, and enemies, and a mom and girlfriend who are counting on you, as well as the eyes of a nation upon you, the game turns into a complex entity that is anything but simple.  As the miles pass under him, Garraty struggles not only to stay alive but also to keep his sanity.  The walk seems to become less about winning, less about the Crowd (an always present entity that at first generally awes the contestants then fades to a constant background presence), and more about Garraty and the other walkers contemplating the meanings of their lives. 

But that's the beauty of this novel.  The reader can ponder life as the walkers do.  The reader can look at the future as presented in The Long Walk and wonder if this is perhaps a whisper or idea of what could be coming for our world.  Or, the reader can simply read the book at face value, choose not to delve into depths of meaning, and still come away having read a satisfyingly chilling story.

With a cast of characters you'll quickly come to know and care for, and impending doom literally present on every page, The Long Walk is a brisk-paced read. Well-written, well-paced, The Long Walk is a highly recommended read.

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More The Long Walk (book) reviews
review by . October 14, 2010
Originally released under King's alter-ego, Richard Bachman, THE LONG WALK is one of the most haunting and enduring novels that King has ever written. Apparently, King wrote the book when he was a freshman in college. He had attempted to get the book published, but after several rejection letters, gave up until he was able to release the novel under the Bachman name.      Told from the perspective of "Maine's Own" Walker, Ray Garraty, the story is set in a fascist …
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
A disturbing look at the future, The Long Walk explored the darker side of the competitive nature of humans and the gore-filled future of entertainment.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
Powerful and haunting, this book has stuck with me. Whenever I feel a little bit too tired to go run or take a walk in the evening, I think about this book.
review by . December 31, 2009
Dystopian America's most cherished past time...The Long Walk.
Ray Garraty is a young man who has decided to participate in a grueling walking contest that lasts until 99 of the 100 competitors are dead.  The winner of the game is granted what their heart desires (usually a huge monetary sum).  200 contestants are chosen from a pool of qualified candidates and then a 100 are picked via a lottery system.  The unchosen 100 are slotted as replacements.  The contestants are given a number from 1 to 100 and they must keep up a pace at 4 MPH.  …
About the reviewer

Ranked #1337
I am a married mom of 4 year old twin girls. I work part time at an office. I love to read books of all varieties, and read whenever I get a chance (my girls' nap times & bed times!).
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About this book


Written under the nom de plume Richard Bachman.
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Author: Richard Bachman
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror
Publisher: Signet Books
Date Published: July 1979
ISBN: 0606169245
Format: Paperback
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