Sunday, 28 December 2008

Good King Stephen

Like Wenceslas, I looked out upon a feast of Stephen, but my feast was the 800 or so pages of Stephen King’s novel from this year, Duma Key.

I am a big fan of Stephen King’s ability to make people disappear into his stories, and this quality was something I particularly appreciated whilst commuting. I wouldn’t say I am a fan of horror writing, but I am a fan of any author that can do this conjuring trick. I also admire the longevity of his stories; the way they creep and linger in your mind way after the book has been shut and put back on the shelf.

Duma Key is a very long book, yet it didn’t outstay its welcome with superfluous passages, as I didn’t feel the need to skim and skip over the surface. I fell into the book very quickly with the excitement readers get when they know they are about to tumble down a good rabbit hole, and for the first 500 or so pages I barely surfaced for air. Yet for me the pace didn’t last, as the brilliant atmosphere built from the beginning finally congealed and trickled away with an unconvincing denouement. Similar descriptions from ‘It’, similar sleight of hand from ‘The Shining’, similar feeling from one of his shorter stories, The Langoliers – and somehow each one meant more in its previous state than here in its reincarnation.

But having said that, this is still a very good book – I am just inordinately fussy when it comes to my favourite writers. I want to be astounded each and every time, and have my investment in their world pay back a dividend of hours well spent. Duma Key was a good investment in that sense, it may not be the best book for me from Stephen King’s extensive back catalogue, but it certainly had the power to hold my attention, and capture my imagination.

It also made me want to write.

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