Some time after I published last week's blog post, I sat down and finished the book, Lisey's Story. It is a hard story: hard to get into, hard to read, and definitely hard to look away from, in the end. It's brilliant. And I will probably never read it again.
Lisey's Story is about a woman who is two years past the death of her beloved husband Scott Landon, an acclaimed, successful, and wealthy author. Note that this book is dedicated to Mr. King's wife, Tabitha. I think this one is autobiographical in certain aspects, and also touches again on the theme of an adoring but absolutely insane fan. I hate to think of what sort of insanity has visited Mr. King's life because of his success.
During the course of this book, we learn that Scott's books are sourced from a real and magical place, a place that he can access and one that he teaches Lisey to find. If the word "magical" gives rise to images of good wizards and unicorns, rainbows and fairies, also keep in mind that this book is written by Stephen King, after all. The magic is there in beauty and lusciously scented flowers and healing waters, but there are also beasts, poison, and at least one huge and deadly monster.
Monsters are a theme throughout this book. Scott comes from a family of them, and this is slowly revealed to the reader as Lisey begins the work of cleaning up her husbands papers and starts to remember, with reluctance, what he has told her about the family that both birthed him and nearly killed him. There is a monster of a fan that tries to end Scott's life. And there is the monster who takes up where that deranged fan left off.
Lisey, in the mean time is dealing with her own inner demons: grief, loss, pain, rage, and the realization that there is an answering sort of madness in her own family that will match up to that in Scott's. And that madness is both death and salvation.
I had a hard time reading this book. For me, it's unlike anything else I've ever read by Mr. King, and that's saying something, since his works span quite a gamut of extraordinary and paranormal premises. Still, in the end, dang him, he was talented enough and skilled enough to pull me into the story and keep me hanging on until the end. I couldn't look away. But this wasn't a train wreck. This is amazing, gripping writing from one of the biggest talent's of our age. It takes his kind of magic to pull off that sort of trick: keep a reader hooked enough to see the story through. Like Lisey, in the end I had no choice but to reach the inescapable conclusion. If you've read the book, you'll understand when I say that Mr. King sets the reader off on a bool. Does the prize at the end make it worth the journey? As hard as it is to realize, I would have to say that the answer is "yes." Of course, I'm a fan of Stephen King. Not his Number One fan, but a fan.
Would I recommend this book? Yes. And I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else who has read this and who bought into its spell. I'd love to compare notes.
Would I ever read this again? Probably not.
Will I ever forget it? Never.