Roadwork is yet another novel penned by Stephen King under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. There is something more dark and sinister within the Bachman books than with King’s more popular works. Whether this is a trick of the mind convincing the reader that there is another personality penning the works of Bachman within Stephen King’s mind or actually the work of the author is unclear.
Roadwork is the story of a man dead-set on stopping progress. As progress plows through his home and place of employment in the form of a new highway system, Bart Dawes snaps. Purchasing a gun at a local shop, he finds company with the voices in his head – namely that of his deceased son Charlie who died years earlier as the result of a brain tumor, which had burrowed so deeply within Charlie’s brain that surgeons were unable to touch it. It is from this event that Bart’s mind slowly descends into madness as he awaits another event to push him into full blown desperation, which is, of course, the roadwork that will demolish his physical history.
While many of King’s works written under his name deal with the issues of isolation and loneliness, the Bachman books seem to focus more on desperation. Oddly enough, King’s novel titled Desperation was a companion to another Bachman novel, The Regulators.
Like Ray Garraty in The Long Walk and Charlie Decker in Rage, Bart Dawes is driven by both desperation and madness as he attempts to fight the progress of the roadwork that will soon plow through the physical representations of his memories. For though he has been compensated for his home, he cannot bear to watch the home in which he raised his deceased son be replaced with asphalt and speeding vehicles. In essence, to see such a thing happen will be like losing Charlie all over again.
Like Rage, The Running Man, and The Long Walk – all books penned under the name of Richard Bachman – there are no supernatural elements here. Only the madness within the mind of one man. There can be no happy ending to this novel and most readers will realize that from page one. Roadwork is a worthy novel to be included among King’s best.
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