Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Duma Key

After a couple of disappointing books, (Cell and The Colorado Kid) I'd begun to think that Stephen King and I might be through. I passed on his recent Richard Bachman novel, Blaze, and on his most recent book written under his own name, Lisey's Story. Figured I might get around to trying them in paperback at some point, but I was in no hurry.
Cliff (who had also been disappointed with a lot of recent King) had heard good things about King's latest, Duma Key, though, and he said he was going to give it a try, so I decided to join him.
Boy am I glad I did.
This is King as I remember him. A six hundred page monster of a book that defies you to put it down. I did all the things that true readers love to do. I stayed up too late, knowing that I had to go to work the next morning. I read until my eyes were tired and my brain was telling me to quit reading because I probably wouldn't remember what I'd read the next morning if I didn't stop. When I wasn't reading the book, I was thinking about it. Ah, I don't get many of those nowadays.
In many ways Duma Key reminds me of what is probably my favorite King novel, Bag of Bones. The protagonist has suffered a tragedy and the story of his recovery is tied up with a slowly unfolding mystery entwined with a growing supernatural menace. Character is everything here and there are people in this book that stay with you long past the final page.
I have to wonder how much of King's own brush with death in a horrendous accident played in his chronicling of the suffering and recovery of his hero, Edgar Freemantle. King writes of pain as only someone who has felt it can write, it seems. There are other parallels to King's life, though I may be projecting, since I know that despite the old "write what you know" adage, some authors write best of things they've never experienced. Edgar Rice Burroughs comes to mind. In particular there is the connection between creativity and depression. One character tells another at one point that,

"Only broken people are special on Duma Key. Once you're no longer broken, you're no longer special."

There are some genuinely creepy moments in Duma Key, as you would expect from Stephen King, but the horror takes back seat to the characters in this one, much as in the aforementioned Bag of Bones. Anyway, as you can probably tell, I really enjoyed this novel. If you've given up on Stephen King, give Duma Key a try.

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