Ever since this whole coronavirus business got started, people have been making allusions to The Stand, Stephen King’s sprawling modern epic about a deadly global pandemic and the fates of the individuals spared by the disease. It’s an easy comparison to make considering governmental ineptitude and human selfishness are central themes of the book, though King himself has taken pains to remind readers that the disease birthed from his imagination was a much nastier strain. “[Coronavirus is] not anywhere near as serious. It’s eminently survivable,” the author wrote on Twitter in early March. “Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.”
One month into quarantine, however, and King seems to have changed his mind about certain comparisons between his 1978 novel and our stark reality. “Sure, call it Captain Trumps, why not?” the author writes, making reference to “Captain Trips,” the nickname given to the deadly flu that wipes out 99% of the world’s population in The Stand.
King has never been shy about his disdain for Donald Trump and the administrations failings during this critical period have only ramped up his criticisms. It probably also doesn’t help that, like many of us, King has been cooped up in his house with nothing to do but read the news, get angry, and work a little on that novel he’s been meaning to write.
“What I’m living with and what I suspect a lot of people are living with right now is cabin fever,” King says in a recent interview with NPR. “It’s not panic. It’s not terror that I feel, that I think most people feel, it’s a kind of gnawing anxiety where you say to yourself, I shouldn’t go out. If I do go out, I might catch this thing or I might give it to somebody else.”
Hopefully, the Stand comparisons stop at Captain Trumps. We’re not sure we’re ready to march into the desert and face off with Randall Flagg, and we’re sure King isn’t looking forward to that either.
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