Friday, December 10, 2010

The Store - Bentley Little


As the year winds up, I find myself trudging like a sad sack towards my reading challenge goals. Some are going to crash and burn, and some may yet be saved. I found one particular challenge, The Twenty Ten Challenge, amusing. You must read twenty books, two from each category, such as Young Adult, Older Than You, or New in 2010, for example. I had two books left to read to complete my mission...books from charity shops. Obviously I'm not all that charitable in my literary purchases. Anyway, I decided to put on a burst of speed in the last stretch and make this happen.

For some reason, I grabbed this book. I was turned onto this author by Uncle Stevie, who touted Little as capable of providing a good scare (note the blurb at the top of the cover). And in the scare department, who wouldn't trust the master?

Synopsis: Bill Davis is a regular guy, with a wife and two daughters and a good job, who lives in a regular small town in northern Arizona. Life is hunky dorey. Until a large corporation called The Store moves into town, plows over a scenic meadow, and builds a large structure intending to sell everything one would need at a low, low price. Their promise of jobs gains them a supportive city council, tax breaks, and the unspoken license to control anything and everything in town. Family-owned businesses fail. While many townspeople have blindly bought into The Store and what it offers, Bill Davis is not happy.

There is something more sinister going on here, however, that goes beyond the ruination of a small town. When Bill's daughters apply for jobs at The Store, we are given a peek at the humiliating and almost cultish hiring process. Once a monopoly has been achieved, The Store begins to sell items that pander to it's customers darker desires. Then there are the Night Managers, who stay in the basement until The Store closes. What purpose do they serve?

My thoughts: I am not sure what I expected when I turned the first page of this book, but it wasn't this. I will grant you that there were parts of the plot, especially in the beginning, that seemed really corny. A pathetic attempt at foreshadowing I suppose. The Store was built faster than an ordinary structure, and that gave Bill a bad feeling. There were no windows in the structure, and that gave Bill a bad feeling. They decimated a pretty meadow, and that gave him a bad feeling. Please! I'm not a 10 year old sitting around a campfire.

But as the story got rolling, it seriously began to chill my blood, because it all sounded so familiar. A multi-billion dollar corporation that sells tires, groceries, clothing, eyeglasses, sushi? At prices that put everyone else out of business? And subjects their employees to questionable business practices? A company not only after our business, but a town's jugular or it's soul? We're already there folks. Little pushes the envelope to a slightly drastic scenario (dystopia maybe?), and incorporates a dash of the demonic supernatural to get his point across. But it left me wanting to step back and cast a discriminating eye on who the hell is behind the wheel of this bus.

I did some poking around about Little as a person, and it was no surprise to find that he is a disciple of King, distrusts and dislikes large corporations, and refuses to operate an official website. You have to appreciate the man for sticking by his principles.

4 out of 5 stars



12 comments:

caite said...

yes, it does sound rather "Kingish" or Koontz..which is certainly not a bad thing. Yes, I think with books like this you have to suspend disbelief to a degree, but there is, as you said, an element of truth that strikes home.

Zibilee said...

Ok, your mention of cultish hiring practices and catering to customers darker needs has me intrigued by this book, which is normally one that I would never go for. Despite the fact that it's a little cheesy, I am off to look it up and see when I can get it here. Great review, Sandy, and as usual, enticing to the extreme!

Nymeth said...

Yep - definitely sounds familiar :S

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Definitely sounds King-esque!

marthalama said...

Not really a book I would read but I think I'm going to suggest it to my husband and son.

Anna said...

I don't think it's for me, but I am interested in the cultish hiring practices. Too bad there's an element of cheese.

The Bumbles said...

Do you think Little rejects the premise of his book being reviewed on blogs? Sounds a bit nutty to me - but that's the kind of mind that can create such wild stories that provide a fun ride!

Darlene said...

I have a book by him sitting on my shelf although the name escapes me right now. This one sounds really good though and something I might like. Truthfully though it sure does sound familiar.

Trisha said...

I love it that he follows his principles! That is too funny.

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Doesn't have a real website and hates corporations? Sounds like an eclectic and eccentric writer -- makes me think of that one character from WarGames that lived on his own little island and wouldn't communicate and deal with the public at all. For some reason, he's the first person that came to mind.

Melody said...

I think I've only read one book by this author so far; can't say I enjoyed that book but I thought it was an okay read. I'll probably check this out from the library.

Kathleen said...

Very intriguing!