I don’t write book reviews. I am not affiliated with any business that employs writers to critique other writers. I don’t fancy myself such a favored mistress of great prose I am qualified in any way to share more than my humble opinion on such matters as the works of others.
My preferences lean toward stories sure to stretch my imagination and invoke vivid imagery, leading my mind to draw unspoken parallels between things which happen every day and things which just could not be. The little bit of fancy I find in some writing, well, it settles me and carries me off in the same breath, an intentional and socially accepted break from reality and the madness life occasionally throws at me, the things Stephen King might say lie ‘behind the purple curtain’.
This is not a book review. You either like the master of all things that live in storm drains and dress like creepy clowns, or you don’t. I’m just blogging and I have point which may or may not be a good one, so read on if it strikes you.
The likes of King and Koontz grace my shelves. They are more often than not the painters I choose to decorate my moments spent relaxing beyond the wardrobe. I’m currently listening to ‘Lisey’s Story’ by Stephen King on audio, because when I need to find a place which could not possibly exist, but wouldn’t it be cool if it did, King is my go to guy.
I’m only half way through, so the ending could still piss me off. A story sometimes unfolds in a way that leaves you wishing you could cane the hand gripping the pen. Ah, wouldn’t that be Misery.
Usually, King hooks me straight away. This time, I was not immediately entranced by the complex characters or promise of a most intriguing story about to unfold I usually find early on in his stories. Lisey, the main character, first emerges as a seemingly weak woman with no identity of her own. Her husband was a celebrated horror novelist who passed away and in the beginning of the story she is simply ‘Scott’s wife’, ‘Scott’s little Lisey’, ‘baby luv’ going through his study two years after his death with her most batshit crazy sister of the three sisters I can recall. From the present to a memory, back to the present, her perspective, her dead husbands’, her crazy sister, to one of her sane sisters, I experienced a few wtf’s until I caught the rhythm. From the start, I will admit I hated this weak Lisey character.
Kingisms, the strange words and idioms present in every one of his stories, start immediately and some are introduced with no clear contextual explanation. I almost wrapped my head on the steering wheel a time or two over references to ‘bool hunts’ and ‘blood bools’ and the ‘thing with the piebald side’ and the answers are all ‘behind the purple curtain’. The early chapters were difficult to stick with, but…
I found I can identify with the main characters sudden, delayed grief. I can identify with her purple curtain. I’ve staved a section of my mind to stash the things I can’t face on the regular. Let’s face it, if I referred to it as a curtain, it would be purple. I hide nothing as fanciful behind mine as the batshit craziness Lisey has stashed behind her curtain, but I’ve grieved for one too soon to leave this world. I realized I hate Lisey because she reminds me of something I was once, of some way I once felt. I keep listening. I’m not disappointed.
As he always does, the master of all things strange and well written takes me to a place which could not possibly be real, but the consideration of it’s existence warms me inside out like the touch of a comfortable lover. During the transition to this other place, the character I love to hate transforms into one mighty, ‘strap on when it seems appropriate (SOWISA)’, amazing woman, not at all just defined by the man whose memory seems to overshadow her even years after he is gone, but strengthened by his love, she morphs into a much more formidable, confident character than first presented.
The story isn’t over, but what I’ve heard so far made me consider an aspect of relationships I’ve never before given much thought. We all look for the obvious qualities in those we choose to partner with, but what if it’s as simple finding someone in whose eyes you can see the best possible version of yourself? Seems like an endless well of strength to draw from, to see on the regular how amazing you are in the eyes of another. Are we not at our absolute best when we are strong?
And so my work commute remains steeped in ‘Boo’ya Moon’. Check your reflection.
**All words and phrases noted with single quotes are excerpts from Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story.