I’m a bigger fan of Stephen King the personality and commentator than Stephen King the author. I think I’ve read, maybe five of his fiction books, none coming close, for my tastes to The Stand. Lisey’s Story is a relatively recent book by King and I found it on my parent’s audio book shelf. I had a long drive ahead and I enjoy audio books on the road as a break to the requisite Phish show. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this experience was listening to Mare Winningham, the reader for the book. Her voice was just amazing. While she did change her voice for certain characters, it didn’t feel or sound forced. It was just a great performance.
So, some of the key King tropes are here. Story of a writer; children in peril; the fantastical/mysterious and an evil psycho. As villain’s go, Jim Dooley is a bit boring and predictable. He doesn’t fill one with tension and fear say, like Annie Wilkes. I guess the true villain is the “Longboy” but all I could picture was a weird gray worm rummaging around. All things considered, when the main plot line gets resolved, the book sort of peters out. I mean the big resolution occurs and I still had two cds left to listen to. I get why King finished the story this way, to finish the story of Lisey and Scott, especially Scott, but I honestly didn’t care.
The other great drawback to this novel, especially w/r/t King is that it feels like he was trying to hard to sound literary. The author, the dead Scott Landon, was a Pulitzer Prize winning author and the subject of academia and such things, a REAL AUTHOR of LITERATURE. At times it felt like King was trying to shape his language to that standard, to that HIGH BROW place of literature. Of course, being Stephen King he would come back to his roots of exciting and lively prose, but simple. That isn’t a criticism. Hemmingway for instance wrote in a very basic way. So much of what King does in this book doesn’t feel true to him. There are a couple of recent King books I still want to check out, but I wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone except die-hard King fans.