Lisey Debusher Landon is the widow of Scott Landon, the Stephen King stand-in here, an author who achieved fame in his early 20’s and never let go, soon becoming and then remaining a best-selling novelist. King weaves several time lines, Landon’s bizarre childhood and his relationship with his father and brother, the courtship of Landon and Lisey, an assassination attempt on Landon by a psycho, Landon’s later illness, and the present. Lisey, two years after Scott’s death, is still tidying up his affairs, beset by a scholarly pair from a university with their greedy paws eager for his accumulated notes and unpublished writings. Her relationship with Scott is paralleled by her relationship with her siblings, three sisters, one of whom is seriously deranged, and falls into catatonia after an emotional blow. A present day psycho seeks her out and forces Lisey to confront some repressed knowledge, about Landon and herself.
There is much in here about personal use of language. Lisey uses “smuck” instead of the usual four letter expletive, behavior learned from Scott. The word “bool” figures prominently as well. There are many sayings that probably originated in King’s Maine background. He adds to these, giving the piece some texture. He also fills the mouths of the tale’s psychos with a bit of verbal drool that is never explained. How explain madness?
There are many instances in which King parallels/echoes images across scenes, noting the state of at least two pairs of underpants, faces smeared with blood that resemble clowns. There are repeated mentions of stations of the cross, although it is never really clear that the connection is that deep.
The story is engaging. Too long of course, but what can one do? King gets in his writing about children under stress, a favorite pastime of his. There is otherworldly material here as well that requires willing suspension of disbelief. But this is Stephen King after all. Does one really expect such to be absent?
I enjoyed reading the book. The texture was fun, the references to other artists, musicians, writers. It was not scary the way some of his books have been. I will have no nightmares as a result of reading Lisey’s Story. It is a good read, not a great one.
A few other SKs we have reviewedUnder the DomeThe ShiningDuma Key