Whirl recommended the recent Stephen King novel to me, Under the Dome. As the book weighs in at just around twenty-five pounds, I’m somewhat concerned that she may be trying to throw my back out as I haul it around. — Okay, it doesn’t weigh twenty-five pounds, but this book is big. This book is heavy. There is no mistaking this for anything other than a book. A very big book.

The premise is simple: On an entirely normal fall day, a small town in Maine (of course) is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. King gleefully, masterfully provides over a thousand pages to tell you what happens next.

In May, 2009, six months ahead of the publication of Under the Dome, Dan Simmons mentioned receiving the manuscript from King as a gift. Simmons’ reaction:

What’s amazing to me is that Under the Dome is the kind of huge, generous, sprawling, infinitely energetic novel that we (or at least I) associate with gifted young novelists in their 20’s—all energy and enthusiasm, the young author having not yet learned a long-distance novelist’s greedy trick of holding back characters or plot or techniques for future novels—and yet here with a master’s total control of the telling, myriad of characters, tone, and effects.

Do I have your attention now?