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'Salem's Lot  
Salemslothardcover.jpg
First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date October 17, 1975
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 439
ISBN 0385007515
Preceded by Carrie
Followed by The Shining

'Salem's Lot is a 1975 horror fiction novel written by Stephen King and was the author's second published novel. The town's full name is 'Jerusalem's Lot', a location that would be revisited in the short stories "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road" both from King's 1978 short story collection Night Shift. The title King originally chose for his book was Second Coming, but he later decided on Jerusalem's Lot. The publishers, Doubleday, shortened it to the current title, thinking the author's choice sounded too religious. They also undertook a last minute price change, reducing the cost of the book from $8.95 to $7.95, thereby producing what some call the 'holy grail' for serious Stephen King collectors as perhaps no more than 4 such copies of the unchanged dust-wrapper exist.[1] Salem's Lot has been adapted into a television mini-series twice, first in 1979 and then in 2004. It was also adapted by the BBC as a seven part radio play in 1995.

The novel was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1976.[2]

Contents

Plot summary

Ben Mears, a successful writer who grew up in the town of Jerusalem's Lot, Cumberland County, Maine (or “The Lot”, as the locals call it), has returned home following the death of his wife. Once in town he meets local high school teacher Matt Burke and strikes up a romantic relationship with Susan Norton, a young college graduate.

Ben plans to write a book about the “Marsten House”, an abandoned mansion that gave him nightmares after a bad experience with it as a child. The Marsten House was the home of '30s gangster Hubert "Hubie" Marsten, a hitman who specialized in rather unsavory hits. Hubie's profession intersected with his personal life and after his suicide, it was discovered he was responsible for the deaths of several children. Unbeknownst to Ben and his new friends, the Marsten House is about to be inhabited by the vampire Kurt Barlow. It is later revealed that Hubie Marsten had in fact communicated with the erstwhile Barlow, and that in the course of their correspondence Marsten may have extended to Barlow the necessary invitation to come to 'Salem's Lot.

Mears discovers that the Marsten House has been bought by a Mr. Straker and a Mr. Barlow, appearing as a pair of businessmen who are opening an antique store in town, although only the tall, bald Mr. Straker has yet been seen in public. Their arrival coincides with the disappearance of a young boy, Ralphie Glick, and the death of his brother Danny. Over the course of the book, the town is slowly taken over by vampires, reducing it to a ghost town by day as they sleep.

Ben and Susan are joined by Matt Burke and his doctor Jimmy Cody, along with a young boy named Mark Petrie and the local priest, Father Callahan, in an effort to stop the vampires from dominating the town. When Mark Petrie and Susan break and enter into the Marsten House, they are found and taken prisoner by Mr. Straker. Mark is able to wound Straker (who is eventually killed by the master vampire Barlow for failing his duties), but Susan is captured by Barlow before Mark has a chance to rescue her. When Mark returns to the others, the characters begin to run into several unfortunate tragedies. Susan, while held hostage by Barlow, becomes a vampire herself, and is sent (unsuccessfully) after Mark Petrie, before being left by Barlow in the cellar of the Marsten House with a note daring his adversaries to kill her. Father Callahan is caught by Barlow at the Petrie house, and after Barlow kills Mark's parents, he forces Callahan to throw away his cross and drink blood from Barlow's neck, corrupting his soul so that he can no longer even approach a church. The ex-priest flees the town. Finally, Jimmy Cody is killed when he falls into a dark basement and is impaled by knife traps set by Barlow, while Matt Burke dies from a heart attack in the town hospital.

Finally, Ben and young Mark Petrie succeed in destroying the master vampire Barlow, but, lucky to escape with their lives, are forced to leave the town to the crop of newly created vampires. The novel's prologue, which is set shortly after the end of the story proper, describes Ben and Mark's flight across the country to a seaside town in Mexico, where they stop to recover from their ordeal.

An epilogue has the two returning to the town a year later, intending to renew the battle. Ben, knowing that there are too many hiding places for the town's vampires, sets some underbrush on fire in an attempt to destroy as many homes as possible thus making the vampires easier to hunt.

Background

While teaching a high school Fantasy and Science Fiction course at Hampden Academy, King was inspired by Dracula, one of the books covered in the class. "One night over supper I wondered aloud what would happen if Dracula came back in the twentieth century, to America. 'He'd probably be run over by a Yellow Cab on Park Avenue and killed,' my wife said. (In the Introduction to the 2004 audiobook recording that Stephen King read himself, he says it was he who said "Probably he'd land in New York and be killed by a Taxi Cab, like Margaret Mitchell in Atlanta," and it was his wife who suggested a rural setting for the book.[3]) That closed the discussion, but in the following days, my mind kept returning to the idea. It occurred to me that my wife was probably right — if the legendary Count came to New York, that was. But if he were to show up in a sleepy little country town, what then? I decided I wanted to find out, so I wrote 'Salem's Lot, which was originally titled Second Coming".[4]

King expands on this thought in his essay for Adeline Magazine "On Becoming a Brand Name" (February 1980): "I began to turn the idea over in my mind, and it began to coalesce into a possible novel. I thought it would make a good one, if I could create a fictional town with enough prosaic reality about it to offset the comic-book menace of a bunch of vampires."

Politics during the time influenced King's writing of the story. The corruption in the government was a significant factor in the inspiration of the story. "I wrote 'Salem's Lot during the period when the Ervin committee was sitting. That was also the period when we first learned of the Ellsberg break-in, the White House tapes, the connection between Gordon Liddy and the CIA, the news of enemies' lists, and other fearful intelligence. During the spring, summer and fall of 1973, it seemed that the Federal Government had been involved in so much subterfuge and so many covert operations that, like the bodies of the faceless wetbacks that Juan Corona was convicted of slaughtering in California, the horror would never end ... Every novel is to some extent an indavertant psychological portrait of the novelist, and I think that the unspeakable obscenity in 'Salem's Lot has to do with my own disillusionment and consequent fear for the future. In a way, it is more closely related to Invasion of the Body Snatchers than it is to Dracula. The fear behind 'Salem's Lot seems to be that the Government has invaded everybody."[5]

King first wrote of Jerusalem's Lot in a short story of the same title, penned in college (but published years later for the first time in the anthology collection Night Shift).

In his non-fiction book, Danse Macabre, King recalls a dream he had when he was eight years old. In the dream, he saw the body of a hanged man dangling from the arm of a scaffold on a hill. "The corpse bore a sign: ROBERT BURNS. But when the wind caused the corpse to turn in the air, I saw that it was my face - rotted and picked by birds, but obviously mine. And then the corpse opened its eyes and looked at me. I woke up screaming, sure that a dead face would be leaning over me in the dark. Sixteen years later, I was able to use the dream as one of the central images in my novel 'Salem's Lot. I just changed the name of the corpse to Hubie Marsten."

In a 1969 installment of "The Garbage Truck", a column King wrote for the University of Maine at Orono's campus newspaper, King foreshadowed the coming of 'Salem's Lot by writing: "In the early 1800s a whole sect of Shakers, a rather strange, religious persuasion at best, disappeared from their village (Jeremiah's Lot) in Vermont. The town remains uninhabited to this day."[6]

In addition to Dracula, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (the opening passage of which King employed as an epigraph for Part One of his novel) and Grace Metalious' Peyton Place are often cited as inspirations for 'Salem's Lot.

Links with King's other works

"Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road", from Night Shift

  • These two short stories act as a sort of bookend for 'Salem's Lot. "Jerusalem's Lot", written early in King's career and inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, takes place in the 19th century and provides a back-story for the later novel, dealing with the underlying source of the evil in Jerusalem's Lot and the Marsten House. "One for the Road" was written after 'Salem's Lot and takes place after the events of the novel. Both stories were published in the Night Shift collection.
  • Matt Burke brings up the disappearance that is explained in "Jerusalem's Lot" during a conversation with Ben about the strange history of the town.

Pet Sematary

  • The highway exit sign for 'Salem's Lot is noticed by characters driving past it.

It

  • To keep his concentration upon the visitation of Danny Glick, Mark Petrie repeats certain rhymes—ending with "...he thrusts his fists against the posts, and still insists he sees the ghosts", a rhyme of major significance to Bill Denbrough in It.
  • As in Pet Sematary, the exit sign for 'Salem's Lot is seen from the highway.

The Dark Tower series

  • Father Callahan returns in The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book in The Dark Tower series, and makes subsequent appearances in the sixth and seventh books as well.
  • In Barlow's letter, Barlow tells Father Callahan that "He bears the symbol of the white" a term later used in The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower.

Limited/illustrated edition

'Salem's Lot: Illustrated Edition

In 2005, Centipede Press released a deluxe limited edition of 'Salem's Lot with black and white photographs, the two short stories "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road", and over fifty pages of deleted material. It weighed over 13 pounds (5.9 kg), was 9 by 13 inches (23 cm × 33 cm) and over 4+14 in (108 mm) thick. A trade hardcover edition with a preface by King was later released.

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Deleted material

  • Different names for the town and the vampire; 'Salem's Lot is compared to "Momson" (mentioned in the final text of the book as a Vermont town whose residents mysteriously vanished in 1923), and Barlow is called "Sarlinov".
  • A conversation between Ben and Susan about the true nature of evil.
  • An extended version of the scene in which Straker delivers his "sacrifice" to his "dark father."
  • A scene in which after being pronounced dead, Danny Glick's vampirism is foreshadowed much more prominently.
  • Barlow's letter to the protagonists is instead a cassette recording. A vampiric Susan is with him.
  • A more gruesome fate for Dr. Jimmy Cody. In the original manuscript he is devoured by rats, but in the actual book he is impaled by knives. The vampires set this trap.
  • More scenes of vampires causing chaos; Sandy McDougall is bitten by her infant son Randy, Dud Rogers bites Ruthie Crockett. Later, the aforementioned McDougalls are slain by Jimmy Cody.
  • Father Callahan, the town's troubled Roman Catholic priest, meets his end differently. Rather than being forced to drink Barlow's blood and leaving town damned, he marks the vampire with a knife before committing suicide. Furious, the vampire desecrates the priest's body, decapitating it and hanging it upside down.
  • Barlow is killed by sunlight rather than a stake through the heart. More rats are present in the final showdown as well.

Legacy

'Salem's Lot was the first of King's books to have a huge cast of characters, a trait that would appear again in later books such as The Stand, It, The Tommyknockers ' Needful Things and Under the Dome. The town of Jerusalem's Lot would also serve as a prototype for later fictional towns of King's writing, namely Castle Rock, Maine and Derry, Maine.

King revisited the character Father Callahan, the local priest whose faith falters in the dreadful presence of Barlow, in his The Dark Tower series. He appears in The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower, and provides insights into his experiences after being exiled from 'Salem's Lot. In addition, the central characters of the Dark Tower books acquire an actual copy of 'Salem's Lot at the end of Wolves of the Calla, which leads them to seek out King himself in one of the many alternate realities featured in the series.

'Salem's Lot was also the first novel by King in which the main character is a writer, a device he would use again in a number of novels and short stories.

The town of Jerusalem's Lot is mentioned in the 2002 rap song "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, as well as "Serve The Servants" by Nirvana.

The book also makes an appearance in "Day Of The Dead," where it is examined by a zombie in one of Dr. Logan's experiments.

Media adaptations

Editions

References

  1. ^ David Aronovitz A.B.A.A. / I.L.A.B.
  2. ^ "1976 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1248552434226796. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  3. ^ Introduction to "'Salem's Lot", Simon & Schuster, Inc. 2004.
  4. ^ StephenKing.com: 'Salems Lot
  5. ^ "The Fright Report" Oui Magazine January 1980 p. 108
  6. ^ "The Stephen King Companion" Beahm, George Andrews McMeel press 1989 p. 267

External links



'Salem's Lot  
Author Stephen King
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Gothic, Horror
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date October 17, 1975
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 439
ISBN 0385007515
Preceded by Carrie
Followed by The Shining

'Salem's Lot is a 1975 horror fiction novel written by the American author Stephen King. It was his second novel to be published. The story involves a writer named Ben Mears who returns to the town he was born in (Jerusalem's Lot, or 'Salem's Lot for short) in Maine, New England, to discover that the residents are all becoming vampires. The town would be a location that would be revisited in the short stories "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road", both from King's 1978 short story collection Night Shift.

The title King originally chose for his book was Second Coming, but he later decided on Jerusalem's Lot. King stated the reason being that his wife, novelist Tabitha Spruce, thought the original title sounded too much like a "bad sex story". King's publishers then shortened it to the current title, thinking the author's choice sounded too religious. 'Salem's Lot has been adapted into a television mini-series twice, first in 1979 and then in 2004. It was also adapted by the BBC as a seven part radio play in 1995.

The novel was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1976.[1]

Contents

Plot summary

Ben Mears, a successful writer who grew up in the town of Jerusalem's Lot, Cumberland County, Maine (or “The Lot”, as the locals call it), has returned home after 25 years. Once in town he meets local high school teacher Matt Burke and strikes up a romantic relationship with Susan Norton, a young college graduate.

Ben plans to write a book about the “Marsten House”, an abandoned mansion that gave him nightmares after a bad experience inside it as a child. The Marsten House was the home of 1930s gangster Hubert "Hubie" Marsten, a Boston-based hitman who specialized in rather unsavory hits. Marsten's profession intersected with his personal life; he killed his wife, Birdie, and then hanged himself in 1939. In 1975, 36 years later, the Marsten House is about to be inhabited by the vampire Kurt Barlow. It is later revealed that Marsten had communicated with the erstwhile Barlow, a native of Austria, for a number of years. Mears discovers that the Marsten House has been bought by Barlow and his familiar, Richard Straker, reputedly businessmen who are opening an antique store in town, although only Straker is seen in public. The arrival coincides with the disappearance of a young boy, Ralphie Glick, and the death of his brother Danny, who becomes the town's first vampire, infecting such locals as Mike Ryerson, Randy McDougall, Jack Griffen, and Danny's own mother, Marjorie Glick. Danny fails, however, to infect Mark Petrie, who resists him successfully. Over the course of several weeks almost all of the townspeople are infected.

Ben Mears and Susan are joined by Matt Burke and his doctor, Jimmy Cody, along with young Mark Petrie and the local priest, Father Callahan, in an effort to fight the spread of the vampires, whose numbers increase as the new vampires infect their own families and others. When Mark and Susan break and enter into the Marsten House, they are found and taken prisoner by Straker. Mark is able to wound Straker (who is eventually killed, drained of his blood and hung upside down by Barlow for failing his duties), but Susan is captured by Barlow before Mark has a chance to rescue her. Susan becomes a vampire, but is eventually staked through the heart by Mears, the man who loved her.

Father Callahan is caught by Barlow at the Petrie house after Barlow kills Mark's parents, but does not infect them, so they are later given a clean burial. Barlow holds Mark hostage, but Father Callahan has the upper hand, securing Mark's release, agreeing to Barlow's demand that he toss aside his cross and face him on equal terms. However he delays throwing the cross aside and the once powerful religious symbol loses its strength until Barlow can not only approach Callahan but break the cross, now nothing more than two small pieces of wood, into bits. Barlow says "Sad to see a man's faith fail him", then forces the helpless Callahan to drink blood from Barlow's neck. Callahan resists but cannot hold out forever and is forced to drink, leaving him trapped in a netherworld, where he is still human but will never be assailed by any vampire, as Barlow has left his mark. When Callahan tries to re-enter his church he receives an electric shock, preventing him from going inside. Callahan takes a bus to New York City and disappears forever from "the Lot".

Jimmy Cody is killed when he falls from a rigged staircase and is impaled by knives hammered into the ground below face up by the one-time denizens of Eva Miller's boarding house, Mears' one-time residence, who have now all become vampires. Matt Burke dies from a heart attack in the town hospital. Ben Mears and Mark Petrie succeed in destroying the master vampire Barlow, but are lucky to escape with their lives and are forced to leave the town to the now leaderless vampires.

The novel's prologue, which is set shortly after the end of the story proper, describes the men's flight across the country to a seaside town in Mexico, where they stop to recover from their ordeal. Mark Petrie is received into the Catholic Church by a friendly local priest.

The epilogue has the two returning to the town a year later, intending to renew the battle. Ben, knowing that there are too many hiding places for the town's vampires, sets the town on fire with the intent of destroying it and the Marsten House once and for all.

Background

While teaching a high school Fantasy and Science Fiction course at Hampden Academy, King was inspired by Dracula, one of the books covered in the class. "One night over supper I wondered aloud what would happen if Dracula came back in the twentieth century, to America. 'He'd probably be run over by a Yellow Cab on Park Avenue and killed,' my wife said. (In the Introduction to the 2004 audiobook recording that Stephen King read himself, he says it was he who said "Probably he'd land in New York and be killed by a Taxi Cab, like Margaret Mitchell in Atlanta", and it was his wife who suggested a rural setting for the book.[2]) That closed the discussion, but in the following days, my mind kept returning to the idea. It occurred to me that my wife was probably right — if the legendary Count came to New York, that is. But if he were to show up in a sleepy little country town, what then? I decided I wanted to find out, so I wrote 'Salem's Lot, which was originally titled Second Coming".[3]

King expands on this thought in his essay for Adeline Magazine, "On Becoming a Brand Name" (February 1980): "I began to turn the idea over in my mind, and it began to coalesce into a possible novel. I thought it would make a good one, if I could create a fictional town with enough prosaic reality about it to offset the comic-book menace of a bunch of vampires."

Politics during the time influenced King's writing of the story. The corruption in the government was a significant factor in the inspiration of the story. "I wrote 'Salem's Lot during the period when the Ervin committee was sitting. That was also the period when we first learned of the Ellsberg break-in, the White House tapes, the connection between Gordon Liddy and the CIA, the news of enemies' lists, and other fearful intelligence. During the spring, summer and fall of 1973, it seemed that the Federal Government had been involved in so much subterfuge and so many covert operations that, like the bodies of the faceless wetbacks that Juan Corona was convicted of slaughtering in California, the horror would never end ... Every novel is to some extent an indavertant psychological portrait of the novelist, and I think that the unspeakable obscenity in 'Salem's Lot has to do with my own disillusionment and consequent fear for the future. In a way, it is more closely related to Invasion of the Body Snatchers than it is to Dracula. The fear behind 'Salem's Lot seems to be that the Government has invaded everybody." [4]

King first wrote of Jerusalem's Lot in a short story of the same title, penned in college (but published years later for the first time in the anthology collection Night Shift).

In his non-fiction book, Danse Macabre, King recalls a dream he had when he was eight years old. In the dream, he saw the body of a hanged man dangling from the arm of a scaffold on a hill. "The corpse bore a sign: ROBERT BURNS. But when the wind caused the corpse to turn in the air, I saw that it was my face - rotted and picked by birds, but obviously mine. And then the corpse opened its eyes and looked at me. I woke up screaming, sure that a dead face would be leaning over me in the dark. Sixteen years later, I was able to use the dream as one of the central images in my novel 'Salem's Lot. I just changed the name of the corpse to Hubie Marsten."

In a 1969 installment of "The Garbage Truck", a column King wrote for the University of Maine at Orono's campus newspaper, King foreshadowed the coming of 'Salem's Lot by writing: "In the early 1800s a whole sect of Shakers, a rather strange, religious persuasion at best, disappeared from their village (Jeremiah's Lot) in Vermont. The town remains uninhabited to this day."[5]

In addition to Dracula, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House (the opening passage of which King employed as an epigraph for Part One of his novel) and Grace Metalious' Peyton Place are often cited as inspirations for 'Salem's Lot.

Links with King's other works

"Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road", from Night Shift

  • These two short stories act as a sort of bookend for 'Salem's Lot. "Jerusalem's Lot", written early in King's career and inspired by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, takes place in the 19th century and provides a back-story for the later novel, dealing with the underlying source of the evil in Jerusalem's Lot and the Marsten House. "One for the Road" was written after 'Salem's Lot and takes place after the events of the novel. Both stories were published in the Night Shift collection.
  • Matt Burke brings up the disappearance that is explained in "Jerusalem's Lot" during a conversation with Ben about the strange history of the town.

Cycle of the Werewolf

  • One of the titular creature's victims is Clyde Corliss, a former 'Salem's Lot resident.

Pet Sematary

  • The highway exit sign for Jerusalem's Lot is noticed by characters driving past it.

It

  • To keep his concentration during his visitation by Danny Glick, Mark Petrie repeats certain rhymes—ending with "...he thrusts his fists against the posts, and still insists he sees the ghosts", a rhyme of major significance to Bill Denbrough in It.

The Dark Tower series

  • Father Callahan returns in The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book in The Dark Tower series, and makes subsequent appearances in the sixth and seventh books as well.
  • In Barlow's letter, Barlow tells Father Callahan that "He bears the symbol of the white" a term later used in The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower.

Limited/illustrated edition

In 2005, Centipede Press released a deluxe limited edition of 'Salem's Lot with black and white photographs by Jerry Uelsmann and the two short stories "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road", as well as over fifty pages of deleted material. It weighed in at over 13 pounds (5.9 kg), was 9 by 13 inches (23 × 33 cm) and over 4+14 in (108 mm) thick. A trade hardcover edition with a preface by King was later released.

Deleted/added material

  • Different names for the town and the vampire; 'Salem's Lot is compared to "Momson" (mentioned in the final text of the book as a Vermont town whose residents mysteriously vanished in 1923), and Barlow is called "Sarlinov".
  • A conversation between Ben and Susan about the true nature of evil.
  • An extended version of the scene in which Straker delivers his "sacrifice" to his "dark father".
  • A scene in which after being pronounced dead, Danny Glick's vampirism is foreshadowed much more prominently.
  • Barlow's letter to the protagonists is instead a cassette recording. A vampiric Susan is with him.
  • A more gruesome fate for Dr. Jimmy Cody. In the original manuscript he is devoured by rats, but in the actual book he is impaled by knives. The vampires set this trap.
  • More scenes of vampires causing chaos - Sandy McDougall is shown being bitten by her infant son Randy; Dud Rogers bites Ruthie Crockett. Later, the aforementioned McDougalls are slain by Jimmy Cody.
  • Father Callahan, the town's troubled Roman Catholic priest, meets his end differently. Rather than being forced to drink Barlow's blood and leaving town damned, he marks the vampire with a knife before committing suicide. Furious, the vampire desecrates the priest's body, decapitating it and hanging it upside down.
  • Barlow is killed by sunlight rather than a stake through the heart. More rats are present in the final showdown as well.

Media adaptations

Editions

References

  1. ^ "1976 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Archived from the original on 2009-07-25. http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1248552434226796. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  2. ^ Introduction to "'Salem's Lot", Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2004.
  3. ^ StephenKing.com: 'Salems Lot
  4. ^ "The Fright Report", Oui Magazine, January 1980, p. 108
  5. ^ "The Stephen King Companion" Beahm, George Andrews McMeel press 1989, p. 267

External links



Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

'Salem's Lot (1975) is a novel by Stephen King about a small New England town that is overrun by vampires.

  • ...the Lot's knowledge of the country's torment was academic. Time went on a different schedule there. Nothing too nasty could happen in such a nice little town. Not there.
    • Ch. 2, 4
  • I think it's relatively easy for people to accept something like telepathy or precognition or teleplasm because their willingness to believe doesn't cost them anything. It doesn't keep them awake nights. But the idea that the evil that men do lives after them is unsettling.
    • Ch. 5, 3
  • I think that house might be Hubert Marsten's monument to evil, a kind of psychic sounding board. A supernatural beacon, if you like. Sitting there all these years, maybe holding the essence of Hubie's evil in its old, moldering bones.
    • Ch. 5, 3
  • Fall and spring came to Jerusalem's Lot with the same suddenness of sunrise and sunset in the tropics. The line of demarcation could be as thin as one day. But spring is not the finest season in New England—it's too short, too uncertain, too apt to turn savage on short notice. Even so, there are April days which linger in the memory even after one has forgotten the wife's touch, or the feel of the baby's toothless mouth at the nipple. But by mid-May, the sun rises out of the morning's haze with authority and potency, and standing on your top step at seven in the morning with your dinner bucket in your hand, you know that the dew will be melted off the grass by eight and that the dust on the back roads will hang depthless and still in the air for five minutes after a car's passage; and that by one in the afternoon it will be up to ninety-five on the third floor of the mill and the sweat will roll off your arms like oil and stick your shirt to your back in a widening patch and it might as well be July.

    But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.

    • Ch. 6, 1
  • And if there are no cars or planes, and if no one's Uncle John is out in the wood lot west of town banging away at a quail or a pheasant; if the only sound is the slow beat of your own heart, you can hear another sound, and that is the sound of life winding down to its cyclic close, waiting for the first winter snow to perform last rites.
    • Ch. 6, 1
  • Understand death? Sure. That was when the monsters got you.
    • Ch. 6, 5
  • Alone. Yes, that's the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn't hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.
    • Ch. 9, 6
  • And you couldn't explain that to your mother and father, who were creatures of the light. No more than you could explain to them how, at the age of three, the spare blanket at the foot of the crib turned into a collection of snakes that lay staring at you with flat and lidless eyes. No child ever conquers those fears, he thought. If a fear cannot be articulated, it can't be conquered. And the fears locked in small brains are much too large to pass through the orifice of the mouth. Sooner or later you found someone to walk past all the deserted meeting houses you had to pass between grinning babyhood and grunting senility. Until tonight. Until tonight when you found out that none of the old fears had been staked— only tucked away in their tiny, child-sized coffins with a wild rose on top.
    • Ch. 9, 6
  • The town knew about darkness.

    It knew about the darkness that comes on the land when rotation hides the land from the sun, and about the darkness of the human soul.

    • Ch. 10, 1
  • These are the town's secrets, and some will later be known and some will never be known. The town keeps them all with the ultimate poker face.

    The town cares for devil's work no more than it cares for God's or man's. It knew darkness. And darkness was enough.

    • Ch. 10, 1
  • The night before, Matt Burke had faced such a dark thing and had been stricken by a heart seizure brought on by fright; tonight Mark Petrie had faced one, and ten minutes later lay in the lap of sleep, the plastic cross still grasped loosely in his right hand like a child's rattle. Such is the difference between men and boys.
    • Ch. 10, 13
  • No one pronounced Jerusalem's Lot dead on the morning of October 6; no one knew it was. Like the bodies of the previous days, it retained every semblance of life.
    • Ch. 14, 2

External links

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