The Long Walk

The Long Walk

by Richard Bachman

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as "The Long Walk." If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Horror
  • Rating: 4.11
  • Pages: 370
  • Publish Date: April 1st 1999 by Signet
  • Isbn10: 0451196716
  • Isbn13: 9780451196712

What People Think about "The Long Walk"

If this book does not make you feel physical pain, I don't know what will. It's not a Hunger Games type of book, despite the "game show" element of the Long Walk, nor is it a world attached to any tower, Dark or not. The premise of the book is very simple: Every year, 100 boys enter a contest called the Long Walk, and the winner gets all his heart desires. If the boy who gets the warning can keep walking 4 miles per hour or faster for the next hour, the warning is revoked. I love this book, but it's really hard to communicate what I think it's trying to relate. Ultimately, this book questions what it means to live through the eyes of one boy (and 99 others) who are walking right into the arms of death. As the boys break down physically, their minds deconstruct past the point of madness until they become lifeless, soulless automatons. All we get to know is Garraty, the main character in the story, and the other boys he meets in the Long Walk. Amid the hardship and torture, something about this book was very sincere, and despite what King may have intended, characters like McVries and Garraty made the journey extraordinarily...enjoyable, if not more emotionally painful.

After reading quite a few of his books, it's still my favorite!

Updated Review - Re-read May 2019 Have you ever been watching a movie in the middle of summer that takes place in the middle of a very cold winter? A few people that I recommended this to before didn't care for it, but it is definitely one of my top five favorite of King's - and my favorite of his Bachman books. ORIGINAL REVIEW This is one of my favorite King books; Suspenseful, unique, and all too possible.

To think something so dark and depressing could come out of a premise so simple. The fatigue, the pain, and the gradual changes in the characters can be felt from the writing. Overall, I highly recommend this for anyone who's looking for a short, dark, engrossing, and a bit philosophical book.

So whenever I see an ad for those kinds of shows I cant help but think that the people who make that trash read those books but saw them as great TV concepts rather than horrifying visions of the future. The scenario here is that 100 teenage boys volunteer to be part of an annual event called The Long Walk. Answering that question turns out to be one of the best parts of the book as King moves the walkers through stages while things get progressively worse for them on the road. What King tapped into here is that realization that deep down we all think were special, that things will always work out for us, and this is especially true when were teens with no real ideas about consequences and our own mortality. The boys essentially just show up in whatever clothes they have and they start walking with little fanfare. Instead it gives the whole thing a kind of dated charm like watching a movie from the 70s where everyone is smoking and people have to wait by the phone. Overall, The Long Walk held up to my memories of it as one of the better King books as well as having a chilling idea at the heart of it. Sure, some might say that the idea of contest that dehumanizes people for entertainment to make things easier for a fascist ruler is far-fetched.

The Long Walk didn't just break into the top 10, but the top 5! From the outset I thought The Long Walk would just be another dystopian novel (I say "another" quite loosely as surely this was one of the first?), but boy was I wrong. If you've followed my King journey you'll know that I'm a huge fan of the books in which King tackles death, grief, loss and mortality. The Long Walk is heavy on both mortality and death. Only King could make the story of one hundred boys walking down a road so fucking nail-biting and engrossing. So many King books have had an impact on me, but this has been one of the most impressive. I cried on countless occasions during this read - death is a very real fear for me, and when I think of what these boys must have been going through, it got to be too much at times.

The Long Walk is simply exhausting to read. I was walking WITH them.The premise is simple and I'm sure if you're reading this review you're aware of what its about.

There are too many ways to count actually, which is why no matter how many re-reads I've done of it (and there have been many over the years), The Long Walk has always left me too intimidated to review it. According to King, he wrote The Long Walk while in college in 1966-67 and it became one of those "drawer novels" that got put away to gather dust when he couldn't get it published. He believed they were good (for me, two of them are better than good, they are outstanding -- The Long Walk and The Running Man -- according to King written in a 72 hour fugue in 1971). But King wanted to know readers thought the books were good because they were good, not just because his name was on the front cover in giant letters. His publisher at the time also didn't want to flood the market with more King books when he was already churning them out one a year.* Hence, Bachman was born. What I love about The Long Walk is what I love about King's early short stories collected in Night Shift: There is a rawness in these stories that reflects the drive and hunger of a young man consumed with his craft. For me The Long Walk has always burned bright as if King wrote it in a fever. Before the dystopian craze spawned by The Hunger Games trilogy, before the rise of reality TV with shows like Survivor, King imagined an alternate history American landscape where an annual walking competition would become the nation's obsession. We see it in books like Misery, Gerald's Game and the short story "Survivor Type". King uncovers all the nitty-gritty minutia of human physical suffering and asks the question: How far is any one person willing to go to keep on taking his or her next breath? One of the things I've always loved about this book is how King handles the audience as spectators, complicit in this cold-blooded murder of its young boys. I've always wanted to ask King if he meant this story to be an allegory for young boys signing up to die in Vietnam (considering he wrote it as Vietnam was heating up and on the nightly news). I think naivety and ignorance got a lot of the boys to The Walk, including Garraty. If it's been a long time since you've read this book, don't you think it's time to read it again? The Long Walk and possible links to the DT Universe: (view spoiler)It's important to remember that TLW is a VERY early book for King, that pre-dates his beginning to write of a Dark Tower (which in the afterward to The Gunslinger he says was 1970). Which brings us to that dark shadowy figure that's beckoning to Garraty at the end of The Long Walk. Something else to consider Constant Readers: TLW flirts with being an "alternate history" because of this passage: The lights filled the sky with a bubblelike pastel glow that was frightening and apocalyptic, reminding Garraty of the pictures he had seen in the history books of the German air blitz of the American East Coast during the last days of World War II. And one more passage that jumped out at me on this re-read that felt very Dark Tower-like: Garraty had a vivid and scary image of the great god Crowd clawing its way out of the Augusta basin on scarlet spider-legs, and devouring them all alive.

Every year, 100 boys take part in a nightmarish pilgrimage called The Long Walk, the winner receiving The Prize and a ton of cash. Unlike the Hunger Games, this book is pretty brutal. Garraty, McVries, Stebbins, Barkovitch, Scramm, the list is pretty long for a short book. Usually, I find King's dialogue a lot more realistic but it pulled me out of the story a few times.

You get the idea, getting pulled into Stephen Kings world, even for a day, is a dark, dark place.

King provided biographical details for Bachman, initially in the "about the author" blurbs in the early novels. Other "facts" about the author were revealed in publicity dispatches from Bachman's publishers: the Bachmans had one child, a boy, who died in an unfortunate, Stephen King-ish type accident at the age of six, when he fell through a well and drowned. After Bachman's true identity was revealed, later publicity dispatches (and about the author blurbs) revealed that Bachman died suddenly in late 1985 of "cancer of the pseudonym, a rare form of schizonomia". Brown located publisher's records at the Library of Congress which included a document naming King as the author of one of Bachman's novels. King has taken full ownership of the Bachman name on numerous occasions, as with the republication of the first four Bachman titles as The Bachman Books: Four Early Novels by Stephen King in 1985.