On January 1st, I sternly decided to start my day right by spending 10 – 15 minutes either watching an inspiring TedTalk video or reading a motivational book. A week ago, I broke my vow and started my day delving into King’s thriller story, Finders Keepers. He is such an intrinsic storyteller so much so that it was really hard to keep myself off the book. Since the story is still fresh on my mind (just finished reading it two hours ago), I am compelled to share it because yayayaya, I am a nerd who dwell in theories.
Spoiler Alert! Stop here and close the page if you are intending to read the novel. Otherwise, if you are equally intrigued with my take on the book or if you are just bored…you may continue.
The story is about a man named Morris Bellamy who is an avid fan of a character, Jimmy Gold, created by an iconic author in the 1970s, John Rothstein. Rothstein has stopped publishing Jimmy Gold but still continues to write for himself. Morris kills his idol because Gold eventually becomes a sellout. After the kill, Morris and his accomplices empty his safe of cash and a collection of Rothstein’s unpublished work. However, before Morris even has a chance to read them, he was jailed for another crime. 35 years later, Morris discovers teenager Pete Saubers has already found the stolen treasure. Morris’s hunger and desperation for Rothstein’s unpublished work of Jimmy Gold eventually leads to his thirst for vengeance against Pete and his family.
Somewhat the Gist of the story… (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT. I warned you twice btw)
Pete discovers the treasure and uses the cash for his parents who are cash-strapped. He is equally into Jimmy Gold just as Morris. But he loves his sister, Tina more than Rothstein’s Jimmy Gold which is equivalent to Morris’s love for Jimmy Gold.
Morris kills his accomplices and eventually a bookseller, Andrew who he considers as his only friend.
Pete tries to sell the stories written in Moleskin books to this bookseller, Andrew and finds himself in a bargaining conflict with Andrew. Andrew blackmails Pete as he knows how and where Pete has found those books.
Morris hunts for Pete, kidnaps his sister and tries to kill Pete.
Pete and Morris meet in a rec room in their neighbourhood where Pete threatens to set Rothstein’s written work on fire.
Morris tries to shoot Pete and Pete, out of shock, let go of his lighter and eventually burns the books.
Hysteric Morris kneels and watches the books he’s been waiting for gone into ashes and burns himself to death.
Even after 35 years, Morris never gets to find out how the story of Jimmy Gold ends.
Is Rothstein a hint for Stephen King’s fans?
Finders Keepers is the second of his trilogy that began with Mr Mercedes and ends with End of Watch. I haven’t read End of Watch but similarly, Jimmy Gold is also a trilogy by Rothstein. Rothstein has stopped publishing but still continues to write. I wonder if this is a hint to his readers that one day he might just stop publishing but fret not, I will not stop writing… but wait… here’s the best thing you won’t get to read it because no matter how you badly want to, they are mine…Haha.
Morris’s attempt to read Rothstein’s unpublished book fails terribly despite him taking three lives.
Could it be that Jimmy Gold’s famous quote in the book,
SHIT DON’T MEAN SHIT? (As Jimmy Gold would say it)
is away for Stephen King to tell us that shit is just shit so let it go (whatever this shit is)?
What isn’t yours will never be yours no matter how hard you try
I don’t consider Pete lucky to have found the treasure of cash and “ancient” literature. Rather, I think the stolen treasure is meant to be discovered by and is for Pete. Morris has stolen the treasure but ends up spending 35 years in jail for a crime he can never remember committing (a woman has accused him of rape) and then eventually, he watches his books on fire. On the other hand, Pete has never had to try that hard to read Rothstein’s unpublished book. I mean Pete doesn’t have to kill to read.
The message: Don’t chase for things. Work hard, do your shit and let them come to you. When you want something badly, create positive thoughts and desire them with love. Morris’s hatred towards Rothstein eventually leads to his own downfall.
Morris and Pete are similar beings who take on a different path of life
Pete admires the writer for his writing. Morris on the other hand, is sucked into the man-made character Jimmy Gold who Morris believes is a lot like him.
You and Jimmy Gold will get along. He’s a sarcastic, self-hating little shit. A lot like you,” says Morris’s teacher.
Despite their differences, both Pete and Morris prefer the books to cash and both see immense value in these books. Pete is able to relate to Morris’s desire for Jimmy Gold. I actually think Morris might have grown up to be Pete if he actually learns to let go of his dissatisfaction towards Jimmy Gold’s life.
Life isn’t just about you
Life is about the people surround you. Eighteen year old Pete knows this very well, allowing him to read the unpublished book of Jimmy Gold. Morris however, is a negative old man with selfish goals that eventually leads him to an unhappy route to death.
Is the story more important that its writer?
Here’s my favourite quote from the book:
Tears actually came to his eyes. Such tears, Pete realizes – yes, even now, especially now, because their lives hang upon it – mark the core power of make-believe. It’s what caused thousands to weep when they learned that Charles Dickens had died of a stroke. It’s why, for years, a stranger put a rose on Edgar Allan Poe’s grave every January 19th, Poe’s Birthday.
A few years back, I was into an Irish Author, Maeve Binchy. Her book, “Circle of Friends” and “Glass Lake” were (still are) my ultimate favourites. Back in Singapore, she wasn’t as popular and I had to scour online to find her books. I’d plastic wrap these books and read a few chapters here and there repeatedly. Her books were books I find extremely hard to lend to. (It’s as if I’d never get it back). Often, I felt like one of the characters in her book. But most of the time, it was her writing that I admire.
When she passed, I realized her stories did not matter as much as the news about her death. When Binchy died, I was sad not because she would no longer write. Rather because Binchy has touched my heart and it was hard to let that go.
So I guess it is the writer is more important than the story – and seeing the happy ending of Pete, King perhaps feels equally the same.
Last quote that I really like from this book…really long but worth the read and I think I’ll be dwelling on this quote for quite some time…
“At some point in this course, perhaps even tonight, you will read something difficult, something you only partially understand, and your verdict will be this is stupid. Will I argue when you advance that opinion in class the next day? Why would I do such a useless ting? My time with you in short, only thirty-four weeks of classes, and I will not waste it arguing about the merits of this short story or that poem. Why would I, when all such opinions are subjective, and no final resolution can ever be reached?’
Some of the kids – Gloria was one of them – now looked lost, but Pete understood exactly what Mr. Ricker, aka Ricky the Hippie, was talking about…
‘Time is the answer,” Mr Ricker said on the first day of Pete’s sophomore year. He strode back and forth, antique bellbottoms swishing, occasionally waving his arms. “Yes! Time mercilessly culls away the is-stupid from the not-stupid.”
“It will occur for you, young ladies and gentlemen, although I will be in your rear-view mirror by the time it happens. Shall I tell you how it happens? You will read something – perhaps ‘Dulce et Decorum Est,’ by Wilfred Owen. Shall we use that as an example? Why not?’
Then, in a deeper voice that sent chills up Pete’s back and tightened his throat, Mr. Ricker cried, ” ‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge…’ And son on. Cetra-cetra. Some of you will say, This is stupid.”
‘And yet!” Up went the finger.
“Time will pass! Tempus will fugit! Owen’s poem may fall away from your mind, in which case your verdict of is-stupid will have turned out to be correct. For you, at least. But for some of you, it will recur. And recur. Each time it does, the steady march of your maturity will deepen its resonance. Each time that poem sneaks back into your mind, it will seem a little less stupid and a little more vital. A little more important. Until it shines, young ladies and gentlemen. Until it shines.”