- 732 pages (June 1999)
Pocket Books; ISBN: 067102423X
Bag of Bones is partly inspired by Daphne du Maurier's
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
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
September 27, 1998
In Stephen King's latest novel, frightening visitations are set among everyday events.
By DANIEL MENDELSOHN
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
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