Monday, October 23, 2006

Needful Things

I'm rereading for the umpteenth time Stephen King's 1990 thriller Needful Things - which may actually have supplanted Insomnia as my favorite King novel.

Simply put, the story focuses on the demonic antics of a Leland Gaunt, who sets up shop in the fictional town of Castle Rock and wreaks havoc by selling the people the things they most desire in the world. Calling on their greed and selfishness, he uses them to turn their neighbors against each other. I won't ruin the ending, but suffice to say there's a reason the book is subtitled: "The Last Castle Rock Story".

Some of the "Needful Things" Mr. Gaunt pawns off on the unsuspecting townfolks are a mint condition signed Sandy Koufax baseball card, a framed photo of Elvis, a rod and reel of the exact model a man had as a small boy, a fox-tail a man remembered once hanging from his teen-ager car, a horserace game that predicted the outcome of races, a music box, a screwdriver set, a carnival glass lampshade, and an Egyptian amulet that cured a woman's arthritis.

If you were a character in the book, what would your "Needful Thing" be? What object, should the opportunity arise, could you picture yourself moving heaven and earth to purchase were it suddenly available and easily affordable?

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