Stephen King has words…

A lot of them.

Usually that’s okay because he is such a great storyteller, one, I believe, who (whom?) deserves to be appreciated literarily well beyond the horror genre. Few can convey the human condition, its perils, its pleasures, as well as he.

But, to me, his overzealous output of words is always a fine line issue because, even though I usually finish any novel of his that I attempt to read/listen to, the ones that I don’t finish are always because I become overwhelmed by what to me seems an abusive overwriting of character and plot asides, a la…


Even four years after the sudden death of his wife, best selling novelist Mike Noonan can’t stop grieving, nor can he return to his writing. Now his nights are plagued by vivid nightmares of the house by the lake. Despite these dreams, or perhaps because of them, he decides to return to Sara Laughs, the Noonans’ isolated summer home. In his beloved Yankee town, he finds himself falling in love with a widowed young mother, who struggles to keep custody of her 3-year-old daughter. He is also drawn into the mystery of Sara Laughs, now the site of ghostly visitations, ever-escalating nightmares, and the sudden recovery of his writing ability. What are the forces that have been unleashed here – and what do they want of Mike Noonan?


Bag of Bones is a perfect example of this. Weighing in at a hefty 752 pages it is immensely overwritten in my blurry view. However, the story is limber and sinewy enough that I was able to make it through to the final round.

I know, I know, enough of the boxing metaphor. I get it.

Another example of an overwrought novel of his, you ask?

Well, funny you should ask because I just finished fighting my way through one…


A terrible accident takes Edgar Freemantle’s right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. When his marriage suddenly ends, Edgar begins to wish he hadn’t survived his injuries. He wants out. His psychologist suggests a new life distant from the Twin Cities, along with something else:

“Edgar, does anything make you happy?”
“I used to sketch.”
“Take it up again. You need hedges…hedges against the night.”

Edgar leaves for Duma Key, an eerily undeveloped splinter of the Florida coast. The sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico calls out to him, and Edgar draws. Once he meets Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman with roots tangled deep in Duma Key, Edgar begins to paint, sometimes feverishly; many of his paintings have a power that cannot be controlled. When Elizabeth’s past unfolds and the ghosts of her childhood begin to appear, the damage of which they are capable is truly devastating.

The tenacity of love, the perils of creativity, the mysteries of memory, and the nature of the supernatural: Stephen King gives us a novel as fascinating as it is gripping and terrifying.


Duma Key maintains the unbelievable fighting weight (sorry, I can’t seem to shake the blasted metaphor) of 783 pages! Strangely enough though, it doesn’t seem quite as flabby as BoB.

Now, as one would assume, these books are for all intents and purposes horror novels; ergo, I listened to them instead of reading them, for, to me, horror is served best via the ear versus the eyes. You know, ghost stories around the campfire vibe and all that.

One of the best attributes of BoB as an audiobook is that the King himself reads it. He’s a fantastic narrator, and he doesn’t seem to mind at all having to read all the extraneous words he wrote.

Duma Key is narrated exquisitely by none other than John Slattery. The only problem with him as narrator is I could never get Roger Sterling out of my head while listening.

And if you don’t know who Roger Sterling is, then take a lap!

In fact, take two!

Seeing that it’s Sunday, Palm Sunday no less, and we haven’t had a Sunday Song to Spark the Spirit and Summon the Mood of the Dance in quite a long while, why not have the King himself get us groovin’, eh?

Say it like you mean it

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