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Pet Sematary

Needful Things

First line :
ONCE UPON A TIME, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.

Notes :
In the novel, we learn that at least part of the Castle Rock area is underlain by limestone which has undergone karst erosion. A bat cave has developed in this rock.

The dog that played Cujo in the movie was reported to be so friendly, they had trouble with him wagging his tail when he was supposed to be mauling someone to death. To overcome this, the crew had to tie his tail down. However, you can spot "Cujo" still happily wagging away when he corners one of the characters.

Main characters :
Vic Trenton

Donna Trenton

Tad Trenton

Steve Kemp

Charity Camber

Joe Camber

Brett Camber


Gary Pervier

Places :
Castle Rock, Maine

Quotes :
  • “Werewolf, vampire, ghoul, unnameable creature from the wastes. The monster never dies.”
  • “The only place to run from the future is into the past.”
  • “It was a goddam fragile world, as fragile as one of those Easter eggs that were all pretty colors on the outside but hollow on the inside.”
  • “In matters of life and death the right time only comes around once - once and then it's gone.”
  • “There were things you didn't want to tell. Shame wasn't the reason. Sometimes it was just better - kinder - to keep up a front.”
  • “When there was nothing left but survival, when you were right down to the strings and nap and ticking of yourself, you survived or you died and that seemed perfectly all right.”
  • “Logic could not blunt her terrible sense of personal failure. Only time could do those things, and time would do an imperfect job.”

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  • Written : September 1977 -- March 1981
  • Cujo takes place in Castle Rock, Maine...
  • Synopsis :
    The Cambers' once-friendly St. Bernard turns into a killer after being bitten by a rabid bat. Donna Trenton's husband is in New York trying to contain a disastrous ad campaign. Feeling abandoned by her workaholic husband, who is frequently out of town, Donna Trenton embarks on an affair with a local handyman. Left to fend for herself, she takes her ailing Pinto to Joe Cambers' garage for repairs only to be trapped with her son Tad in the sweltering car by the monstrous dog.

    In the spring of 1977 Stephen took his motorcycle to a mechanic who lived outside of Bridgton, Maine, "in the middle of nowhere". "I took the bike out there, and I just barely made it. And this huge Saint Bernard came out of the barn, growling. Then this guy came out and, I mean, he was Joe Camber-he looked almost like one of those guys out of Deliverance. And I was retreating, and wishing that I was not on my motorcycle, when the guy said, 'Don't worry. He don't bite.' And so I reached out to pet him, and the dog started to go for me. And the guy walked over and said, 'Down Gonzo,' or whatever the dog's name was and gave him this huge whack on the rump, and the dog yelped and sat down. The guy said, 'Gonzo never done that before. I guess he don't like your face.' And that became the central situation of the book, mixed with those old "Movies of the Week," the made-for-television movies that they used to have on ABC. I thought to myself, what if you could have a situation that was an extension of one scene. It would be the ultimate TV movie. There would be one set, there would be one room. You'd never even have to change the camera angle. So there was one very small place, and it became Donna's Pinto-and everything just flowed from that situation, the big dog and the Pinto."

    Cujo is so well-paced and scary that people tend to read it quickly, so they mostly remember the scene of the mother and son trapped in the hot Pinto and threatened by the rabid Cujo, forgetting the multifaceted story in which that scene is embedded. This is definitely a novel that rewards re-reading. When you read it again, you can pay more attention to the theme of country folk vs. city folk; the parallel marriage conflicts of the Cambers vs. the Trentons; the poignancy of the amiable St. Bernard (yes, the breed choice is just right) infected by a brain-destroying virus that makes it into a monster; and the way the "daylight burial" of the failed ad campaign is reflected in the sunlit Pinto that becomes a coffin. And how significant it is that this horror tale is not supernatural: it's as real as junk food, a failing marriage, a broken-down car, or a fatal virus.


    Mysterious Press 1981.

    A Lettered state was published.
    750 first print.
    Price: $75

    Viking 1981.

    "First published in 1981 by the Viking Press"
    on copyright page.

    150,000 first print.
    Dust Jacket price: $13.95


    Futura edition 1988.
    345 pages.
    ISBN 0 7088 2171 5.

    Copyright © Stephen King, 1981.
    Fiction: Horror


    This book is for my brother, David,
    who held my hand crossing West Broad Street,
    and who taught me how to make skyhooks
    out of old coathangers. The trick was so
    damned good I just never stopped.

    I love you, David.

    _no breakdown_



    Cujo is a two hundred pound Saint Bernard, the best friend Brett Camber has ever had. One day Cujo chases a rabbit into a bolt-hole - a cave inhabited by some very sick bats. What happens to Cujo, how he becomes a horrifying vortex inexorably drawing in all the people around him, makes for the most heart-stopping novel Stephen King has yet written...

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