With the new IKEA opening in Al Rai, it might be time for an interview hint:
Mostly I wait for books to come out in paperback, so that they don’t hurt me if I fall asleep while I am reading (!), but for a few authors I will make an exception. One, James Lee Burke, I told you about in a previous post He Had Me From Hello.
My most recent exception was for Lisey’s Story, the newest novel out by Stephen King. It’s a departure from Stephen King as we know him, and yet, there are resonances and echoes of earlier writings. Stephen King is brilliant at capturing the terrors of childhood, and the diaphanously thin membrane separating reality as we know it (not that we agree on what “reality” is! ) from the “otherworld”. In the Dark Tower series, the otherworld was where all the bad things were created and passed over to this side through leaks, places where the membrane holding worlds apart thinned and even disappeared.
This book is covered with flowers, bright pink and fushia and purple peonies, lupin and daisies, shading into blacks, whites and greys at the top, so that the holleyhocks are only faintly blue. It’s a very odd cover for a Stephen King book, but this is a very odd book. Early reviews say it is about as autobiographical a book by Stephen King as he has ever written, and I believe it. Stephen King writes what he knows – from Misery, written shortly after his nearly fatal accident as he was walking along a road near his Vermont farm and was hit by a van and nearly crippled for life, to this one, Lisey’s Story, in which we spend a lot of time in a dead author’s writing loft in an old barn in – you guessed it – Vermont.
As Lisey’s Story opens, we learn that she is the widow of an author (an author a whole lot like Stephen King) who has made a fortune writing fantasy/horror books. As the book unfolds, we walk with her through her devastating grief, bitter anger, and the endless exhaustion of trying to clear out her husband’s study. Every time she tackles the task, she is distracted by vivid and disturbing memories, memories she has tried to keep deeply buried because of their troubling implications.
King is writing on multiple levels. On one level, it is about a widow coming to terms with the death of her life partner. On another level, it is about a woman who doesn’t know her own strength and who comes to understand more about herself and about her relation to the world, and to her family of sisters. We’re there. We walk with her. If you’ve ever had sisters, you will particularly appreciate King’s treatment of how sisters relate to one another, and how that relationship both stays strong and loyal, and also evolves as sisters become adult people facing adult crises.
Throughout the book are whispers reminding us that the dead are all around us, leaving hints and reminders that their reality, too, is only a thin membrane away from our own.
And, on the most obvious level, King is writing about a boy and the source of his nightmares, the same source of his healing powers, the real life nightmares that haunt us all, and how with bravery and goodness and tools we don’t even know we have, we can triumph over evil.
Stephen King taps into the child within us all. He knows the terrors of our childhood, and he knows that evil gains power from the ability to terrify. Stephen King believes good can triumph over evil – when good people band together, evil can be beaten. In every book, there is a moment when one has to make a choice to stand against evil or be crushed by evil, and while his heroes and heroines are flawed and human – they are good, and they choose to stand against the evil. They may come out scarred and bloody, but they also come out triumphant.
It may not be great literature, but it’s a fine read. Stephen King’s books also are great vocabulary builders. He uses unusual and precise words to paint his word pictures.
Just before Ramadan started, there were all kinds of rumors flying around about an upcoming change in the weekend. Normally, this is just fluff stuff, but I remember reading it in the newspaper, too, giving it a little more substance than just buzz.
Has anyone heard anything recently? Is a change of weekend to Friday – Saturday still in the works or is it blown out of the water by the newer and graver rumors?