Book review: Lisey’s Story, by Stephen King

Lisey's StoryLisey’s Story by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If any writer can immerse us in a reality of his own making, it’s Stephen King. Even when he’s not writing horror he so subtly fuzzes the line between uber-reality and the uncanny that you never can quite put your finger on when you crossed that line — though you sure know you aren’t in Kansas anymore.

King has written many books but some I have to avoid because I’m afraid of them. King’s horror is too horrible for me. It was years before I could feel okay around certain closets, and I still can’t walk down the empty hallways of old hotels at night. I adore all the rest of his books, though.

In Lisey’s Story we get to share the lives two people: an author – plausibly reflecting aspects of King himself – as seen through the eyes and memories of his soul-mate, the Lisey of the title. This book was scary, but it was scary because the truly “bad-gunky” happens on our side of the line between reality and the uncanny.

In this book King uses what he knows – as writers are always telling other writers to do – and thus reveals truths about creativity that we all understand in our heart of hearts. He gives us the language-pool, the myth-pool, the archetype-pool – a pool that is unfathomably deep, and so dark and rich that sipping of it is as dangerous as snatching gold from a sleeping dragon’s lair. But as with a dragon’s treasure, sometimes there’s a price. Even so, sometimes the need is compelling. Perhaps irresistible.

In Lisey’s Story the hero is a woman, and King is a man who can channel a woman’s soul. King also knows about real love in its all-encompassing magnificence as well as its madness. Sometimes I wept for Lisey, sometimes I wept with her. I loved her husband as she did because I’ve loved a soul-mate, too. And dammit, I cheered for her when she did what she had to do.

In the end, we all could wish to be the kind of hero Lisey is – not a superhero who saves the world, but one who saves herself.

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