Saturday, September 27, 2008

BLAZE by Richard Bachman

Yes, that's right, I just finished reading a "grown-up" book. One of my students brought it to school and asked if I would read it. He said he started it but had found it confusing.

It is the story of Clayton Blaisdell Jr. aka Blaze. He stands 6' 5" and just under 300 pounds. Early on in life he was blessed with considerable intelligence, but that changed after his drunken father pushed/threw him down a staircase, not once, but three times. A severe head injury put him in a coma for several weeks and upon recovery in a state orphanage called Hetton House. Life there was barely tolerable, and left Blaze with even bigger problems and some horrible memories.

Once free of the orphanage, Blaze ends up the sidekick partner in crime of a man named George. George enjoys Blaze's innocent and big-hearted approach to life and teaches him the value of a good con. Tired of small time con games, George cooks up a scheme to kidnap the baby of a wealthy couple. The plan appears to be derailed when George is fatally stabbed during a poker game. But after George's untimely death, Blaze is determined to pull off the kidnapping on his own.

With George's ghostly voice haunting him, Blaze carefully follows the plan. At least he tries to carefully follow the plan. His limited cognitive abilities make for some interesting and often humorous variations on George's original scheme. The baby is successfully snatched, but there are multiple clues left behind as well as the dead body of the baby's grandmother. Blaze now finds himself with little Joe and the challenge of figuring out how to keep him comfortable and make his demands known. Besides that, he didn't count on becoming attached to the little fellow.

Richard Bachman aka Stephen King creates a fast-paced, quirky story about a likeable criminal character. Blaze is huge and deadly, but he will touch your heart as you read about his tragic childhood and his bumbling attempts to follow his friend's dangerous plan. I'm glad this book was passed my way.

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