Non-stop ’80s hits
CHUCK YOUR HAIR IN A SCRUNCHIE AND CRACK OPEN THESE ’80s BOOKS THAT ARE ACTUALLY WORTH READING.
MISERY BY STEPHEN KING // Every decade has been good to King, but the ’80s were really his time to shine. After all, his visions of horror and psychological torture fit so perfectly with the coked-out decadence of the age. In Misery, we meet Paul Sheldon, a romance writer rescued from a car crash by a fan named Annie Wilkes. If you thought Taylor Swift fans were intense, think again – Annie is so upset when she learns what Paul has in store for her favourite character, Misery Chastain, that she holds him hostage, forcing him to rewrite the tale. The climax is a litany of violent acts, schlock, psychological horrors, and all the terror you need for a month’s worth of sleepless nights.
THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES BY TOM WOLFE // The ’80s were a time of extremes – extreme hair, fashion, money. Wolfe captures it all from the comfort, and later discomfort, of Sherman Mccoy’s multimillion-dollar Park Avenue apartment. The novel centres on the Wall Street executive’s misadventures – specifically, the way his life is turned upside down when he and his mistress are involved in the hit-and-run of a young black man. Wolfe cleverly captures the racism, egoism and sexism of the age in this tale of a man fallen from grace. THE WITCHES BY ROALD DAHL // Surely, surely you’ve read this book already? If not, then you should definitely stop reading the review and get to the library. On your way, keep an eye out for women in long gloves, wigs, and with spit the colour of ink. (Really, you should probably be wary of anyone like that anyway.) The Witches is a classic good-versus-evil tale, but I’d never considered an alternative evil... is this a misogynistic tirade? Apparently, the sexist undertones of the novel have led to it being banned from some schools. Nevertheless, it’s worth a gander, as most Roald Dahl tales are.
THE ALCHEMIST BY PAUL COELHO // The Alchemist is one of those books that sits for so long on so many bookshelves that most people are convinced they’ve read it. That was me, anyway. Turns out I hadn’t. I’d never met the little shepherd boy Santiago; read about his dream; followed him to Egypt; learnt of the “Personal Legend”; or, let’s be honest, discovered my true self. The Alchemist isn’t for everyone, even though we all have a copy. If you loved Siddhartha, The Little Prince or The Prophet, maybe give it a whirl.
THE COLOR PURPLE BY ALICE WALKER // Be warned: this is not a hedonistic ’80s romp. In fact, it takes place during the 1930s in America’s Deep South. It’s the brutal story of the treatment of several generations of African-american women at the hands of men and a grossly unjust society. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse are rife. Strong characters seeking salvation where they can, and fighting back when they cannot. Amongst the violence and trauma, Walker has crafted a magnificent story. Be prepared.
THE VAMPIRE LESTAT BY ANNE RICE // What’s better than a schlocky vampire book? A vampire book where the narrator takes the stage as the lead singer in an ’80s rock band, of course! I bet he could even walk on stage in the same billowing shirts from his 18th-century vampire days. Fashion really does come around again. The Vampire Lestat tells Lestat’s story, from his humble beginnings in the mortal realm to his transformation into a fanged creature of the night, with a whole lot of violin playing in between. Lestat’s a jerk, but which ’80s frontman wasn’t? If this didn’t grab you at ‘1980s frontman’ and ‘vampire’, it probably isn’t for you.