Brothers and sisters let us give praise to Father Donald Frank Fucking Callahan.
Author: Stephen King
Originally published: 2004
Original publisher: Grant
After enduring the horrors of the alternate world of Topeka and the evil wizard Randall Flagg in ‘The Wizard and Glass’, Roland’s ka-tet find themselves in the pastoral village of Calla Bryn Sturgis where they meet the townsfolk, as well as Father Callahan. He and the townsfolk entreat for the ka-tet‘s assistance in battling against the Wolves of Thunderclap, who come once a generation to take one child from each pair of the town’s twins. After a few months of being away, the children are then returned “roont” (ruined) – cognitively impaired and destined to grow to considerable size and die young and it just so happens that the Wolves are to come a-callin’ in a month’s time.
Reading this story, it is so damn easy to cite King’s inspirations that it would have been ridiculous if not for the author’s skill as a storyteller. Even then, a part of my mind wanted to be cynical, but come the final page and after all I had seen, I couldn’t hate this book even if I tried. It was not the masterful work that was its’ predecessor, but it struck me as a combination of Marvel comics (say 1970’s), Hammer films, Akira Kurosawa, Howard Hawks and of course Sergio Leone mixed in with ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Star Wars’ and Isaac Asimovs’ creative milieu. In other words, it was a world that only King knew and only one that King could write. I can’t even imagine how many hours King spent at night trying to plot out this tale and striving to achieve a medium of which he was inspired but not shamelessly derivative. It’s a difficult job to say the least and you gotta wave a white glove in Steve’s general direction.
This book has a lot of its ups and downs, make no mistake about that and there are parts of the book that will take you aback long enough to cause you to question as to why these choices were made- for example, there has been some contention with the plot line of the single red rose that causes a lot of trouble with Roland and his homies that also causes issues with readers. Come the end, it is explained, but King being the way he is chooses to take his time explaining this idea rather than being straight-talkin’. I didn’t have an issue with this personally, but as we all know, the validity of an idea is subjective, and how I feel about a choice King makes may not reflect your own. Don’t fear though, King isn’t usually known for pulling the wool over the eyes and leaving it there… well, most of the time anyway.
But permit me to submit my praises for how beautifully King has redeemed Father Callahan. Last seen being condemned by Kurt Barlow, losing his faith and turning tail when the vampires took over Jerusalem’s Lot in his debut novel, Callahan has since lived many lives thanks to the mysterious powers of the Dark Tower and now he has not only found a new life, but also a life that has renewed faith in himself, in others and in the God he ordained himself to serve. This man kicks arse not only for the Lord, but all of humanity and man is he brilliant at it. He is an expert on Types of vampires found in this realm of which he now lives and he is widely respected by the weak and mighty. He is an Earth-bound heavenly warrior who has unwavering resolve yet an unmistakable faith in his fellow humans that he does not believe in nihilism he believes in unity and by golly I wanna be part of his congregation. The last holy man who got a “Fuck Yeah” (complete with clenched teeth and pumped fist) reaction out of me was Gene Hackman’s character from ‘The Poseidon Adventure‘. I’m so pleased King took it upon himself to better a character of his creation and I feel it’s safe to say that Father Callahan has joined the top-tier vampire hunters in popular culture. Amen.
This is book heavy on concept, but there is definitely a rousing sense of charm and adventure to be enjoyed by those who are still on trail to the Dark Tower. Its imperfect, its ideas may seem addled to some, but depending on how far you are willing to follow King down this winding path, one thing is for sure is that it’s not boring. The Dark Tower is closer.