Now we're well into the meat of The Gunslinger. In the second novella, The Way Station, we officially learn that he is called Roland -- he is no longer the gunslinger with no name. While continuing his pursuit of the man in black, he encounters a boy named Jake. Here King drops all kinds of hints about the connection between Roland's world and ours. Jake lived in "our" world, until he was killed by the man in black who pushed Jake out into traffic. Jake is slowly forgetting his connection to our world, only through hypnotism can Roland learn Jake's story. And we flash back and experience an incident from Roland's childhood, where we learn that the mysterious Cort alluded to earlier was Roland's teacher who talks like the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. Roland seems to have some knowledge of "our" world as well. It will be interesting to see how all this is tied together.
This is an early King novel, his eighth published, but one of the first he started writing and it will be also interesting to see how the novels' voice changes over the 30 years he took to write the series. (That makes me feel old, imagine how old that makes King feel!) King also made me go "Ick!" over one line of dialogue as Jake remembers his accident. I've read a lot of King; there isn't much that can make me squirm anymore, but he managed to at the top of page 114.
Today I finished off the second and third novella (The Oracle and The Mountains) and got into the fourth one, The Slow Mutants (no, it's not about Star Trek fans). We keep learning little things about Roland's past --Cuthbert and the horn, Susan Delgado-- but also more things about the strange world he lives in. An underground railroad with talking hand-cars? What is going on here?
We also get the first mention of The Tower. Some sort of nexus in time. And time has gone soft here, as Roland says.
And more numerology. I assume that King is using "nineteen" because he was 19 when he started writing this, but the oracle mentions the number three (which I assume plays into the next book, The Drawing of the Three), and then the oracle mentions that another number will become important later.
But now Roland has just had his first conversation with the man in black. Back to the book!