Like those who write long books, those who write very many books ask for some level of commitment from their fans. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I had more time to read. I tend to be driven to Stephen King’s novels by the movies made around them, and there’s nothing wrong with that I suppose. I decided I wanted to read Cujo some years back when I was on a werewolf kick. I knew it wasn’t a werewolf story, yet as one who suffers from cynophobia even a large household pet will do. I didn’t know the story in advance, and I had no idea how it ended. It’s good to read novels like that sometimes.
I took it with me to San Diego and read most of it on the plane, finishing it somewhere over the mountain west. It is a bleak story, one of King’s more drawn-out and wrenching tales. It’s made more so by the fact that it could happen, at least in the main storyline. Or could have happened. Maybe I waited too long to read it, but I kept thinking as I was going through—today we have cell phones. A large part of this story unfolds because of Donna Trenton’s inability to contact anyone while a rabid dog keeps her trapped in her car during a record-breaking heat wave in Maine. I suspect it’s kind of a story about redemption, but I really need some time to think about it before rushing to such conclusions. There’s not much you can really consider religious in this particular tale, and perhaps it’s because Cujo is a very natural kind of monster.
I saw my first rabid dog when I was maybe five. My brothers and I reported a dog acting strange to our mother, after which she kept us in the house. That wasn’t the origin, I don’t think, of my cynophobia. Two of my brothers were bitten by a family dog when I was little, and I was once chased by a dog about as big as I was, certain that it was going to eat me. At the same time, we had dogs as pets, and apart from the one that liked to bite, they never gave cause for fear. Cujo tapped into those memories and made me reflect on what it means to befriend wolves. It won’t be my favorite King novel, but it did help to pass the time from coast to coast.