It’s that time of the year again! Time for the country to bask in its most welcome national pastime: The Long Walk. The course has been plotted and the game has its contestants. It’s all prepared to launch. And 16-year-old Ray Garraty is eager to take his place at the starting line.
Beginning in Maine at the Canadian border, he and ninety-nine others must walk south on U.S. Route 1 and continue for as long as their bodies are willing to go. And for as long as their minds are willing to suffer. There’s no rest, no bathroom breaks, no change of footwear, no chance for relief. Just walk at a pace of 4 miles per hour and outlast everyone else. Simple enough. So long as they ignore the half-tracks with armed soldiers, locked and loaded, ready to let loose.
If victorious, Ray will win a prize that may just make this marathon worth the risk. But that’s the catch. Failing to win means losing, and all those who lose will be buying themselves a one-way ticket to the coroner’s office. They must walk as if their lives depended on it because in fact, they most certainly do.
Written when King was only a freshman at the University of Maine and published later under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, The Long Walk showcases his budding potential for the sadistic that would mark his future work. Only he would look at the most trivial of acts — one we perform daily — and think: “how can I use that to terrify my audience?” For readers of this novel, taking that act for granted will be a thing of the past. And for King, there’s no greater compliment.
This is also where he introduces us to the first of his many memorable, authoritarian villains. The crazed military leader, dubbed the “Major”, is the enigmatic man behind the barbarous, almost gladiatorial march forced on this country’s youth. His presence is enough to generate cheers from the onlooking crowds and groveling from the persistent walkers. But for all the power he wields, even he can’t prevent the winner from choosing a path all his own beyond the finish line…assuming there is one.
As one brave walker bluntly points out: “Walk or die, that’s the moral of the story.” Though, in King’s dystopic world, the moral may just be more nuanced than anyone is willing to admit.
– Trade edition limited to 1,400 unsigned copies.
– New introduction by Bev Vincent.
– Dustjacket, frontispiece, interior, and chapter head illustrations by Jim and Ruth Keegan.
– Photographs by Patrick Loehr.
– Ribbon marker, head and tail bands, bound in gray cloth.
– Stamped spine and boards.
– Double-sided dustjacket.
– Smyth-sewn binding.
– Book size 5¼ × 8¾ inches.
– Number of pages: 336.
– To be published January 2023.
– Price $95
Order the book HERE.