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Bag of Bones
by Stephen King

Paperback - 732 pages (June 1999)
Pocket Books; ISBN: 067102423X

Bag of Bones is partly inspired by Daphne du Maurier's classic Rebecca, but there's more than homage in this novel of horror and romance. Like du Maurier's Manderley, King's scary old place (on the shore of Maine's remote Dark Score Lake) is haunted by the late lady of the manor. There are many gory ghosts afoot, though: men, women, and wailing kids. The hero, a thriller novelist, stirs up hell's plenty of angry shades while investigating his wife's death. It turns out she either had a dark secret herself or was onto some dread scandal lurking in Dark Score Lake. As in King's previous book, Wizard and Glass, the fabric of reality is thin, and nosy narrators are in peril of plunging right out of this world and into a rather hostile otherworld.

Bag of Bones is a writer-haunted book, too. The spirits of Herman Melville and Ray Bradbury are deeply felt, and so are the tale's two romances (the hero muses on his marriage and falls for a young single mom with a marvelous, psychic daughter). There is also good-humored satire of the real bestseller book world--the hero complains that "the publicity process is like going to a sushi bar where you're the sushi." In its deep concerns with love, sprawling families, the writer's life, endangered children, and good old-fashioned storytelling, the book resembles a John Irving novel. It is also absolutely classic Stephen King, packed with nifty turns of phrase, irreverent wit, and lurid ghouls who grab you from beneath the bed while you cower under the covers. --Tim Appelo

articles and reviews
September 27, 1998
Familiar Terrors
In Stephen King's latest novel, frightening visitations are set among everyday events.

Stephen King is so widely acknowledged as America's master of paranormal terrors that you can forget his real genius is for the everyday. King's vast oeuvre (over 40 books to date) includes all the garden-variety spooks -- ghosts, vampires, peskily anthropophagous zombies -- as well as a few more unconventional manifestations of the Other Side that he clearly dreamed up by himself. (The next time you start kvetching about your transmission, read ''Christine'' and be grateful your car isn't trying to julienne you.) But King's appeal has always had a lot to do with his trademarked technique of grounding even the most otherwordly plot lines in the familiar, brand-named reality of everyday experience. Unlike the ambisexual Gothic exquisites who languidly inhabit the fictions of Anne Rice, King's characters eat Ring Dings, use Powerbooks and dash off to the Rite-Aid for nasal spray. With his latest novel, ''Bag of Bones,'' King offers his huge audience a tale of something that is bound to strike some, if not all, readers (publishing insiders in particular, and at least one book critic) as both unpleasantly familiar and the ultimate in terror: writer's block. [read more]



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