Lisey's story was a superb reflection of how this writer's mind works minus unnecessary gore. Story was spellbinding, building slowly to an incredible finish. The reader was one of the finest I've heard and she made the story come to life.
This one shook and rattled me throughout. There are two Stephen Kings, apparently. There is the superficial monster-story writer who creates fascinating and creepy tales of humans fighting for survival amongst supernatural carnage, and there is the keen observer of the human condition who tells stories of human exploration of grief and joy, happiness and bitterness, love, death, and the whole range of questions surrounding human existence.
This book has both, but it concentrates on the latter. Told through the eyes of a middle-aged widow haunted by her famous husband's legacy, this is maybe the most sober story King has told. The heroine is not super-human, is not exceptional in the way most heroes are, yet she struggles through emotional turmoil, real life catastrophes, and a supernatural force she cannot fully grasp. The writing is powerful and touching, with vivid scenes of mystery and horror, as well as tender scenes of loss, grief, redemption, and understanding.
And through it all is a thinly-veiled timeless metaphor which is easier to recognize than identify.
Read this one, "Bag of Bones," and "Duma Key," and you might just find yourself comparing King not unfavorably to Charles Dickens, for his observation of the everyday world and his introspective identification of human motives. True, whereas Dickens often had a light, humorous prose, King's is nostalgic bordering on morose, but both reach beyond the story they are telling to touch on truths just out of your reach.
Yeah, I liked it.
And the reading by Mare Winningham is as impressive as King's writing in this. Maybe moreso, at times. She puts a delicate interpretation on lines, even words, that draw out elements you don't notice otherwise.
Good story, good read. Highly recommended.
From Austen to zombies!
I just finished Lisey's Story today, and I have to say that if this book and Cell signal a new turn for Stephen King, I'm happy about it.
As with Cell, King is talking about bigger things within the context of horror, but with this book he's also talking about them within the context of a long marriage. This time they're the presence of love, and language and myth.
Lisey's Story doesn't follow the standard King map many may expect. Nobody's holed up in a cellar or a car or an abandoned building with a monster at the door. There are horrific parts and suspenseful parts, but those looking for a gorefest will probably be disappointed.
That may be the reason why some reviewers complained about a slow start. I didn't find it slow, however; the seed of the plot is planted when the "incuncs" are introduced. "Incunc" is Lisey's malapropism for "incunabula," or rare, unpublished manuscripts that are often in the author's own hand. Scholars expect that Lisey's departed husband, a writer, has left some behind and they want to get their hands on them. The scholars are what Lisey calls the "incuncs," and the book goes back and forth between their presence in the present time, and Lisey's memories of her marriage.
I'm not a big love story person, so I almost didn't get this book. But I'm glad I did. This isn't Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett; this is two messed-up people, both with problems, who managed to stay together and like it in spite of everything. I found that inspiring and touching.
Moreover, King's prose style has improved a lot over the last three decades (as we might hope!), but he still knows how to tell a good story. Mare Winningham does a great job on the narration as well. Highly recommended.
For King fans, this listen will be a bit more cerebral, and a good deal less traditional King Creepshow. From that perspective, Lisey's Story is a masterpiece of fiction, seasoned by King's ability to transform the mundane aspects of life into otherworldly, magical elements. It becomes almost autobiographical in the detailed journey through the details held within writer's imagination, The Pool, and the reader's ability to hitch a ride for a voyeuristic dip. Not a traditional horror format, Lisey's Story is a personal description of the ways and means of authorship, the guts of the writer's mind, and the interaction between the real world and The Pool, just under the surface, but not available to all, offered not to frighten, but rather validate and explain.
I had a difficult time getting into this King creation, and I discovered that I had to be patient to let the unique language and pace settle in my brain. If you're a fan of King, you can expect some parallels from other books: strong character development, unique abilities to travel back and forth between other worlds (not "The Territories" here but instead "Boo'ya Moon"), and King-isms/unique phrases ("blood-bool," and "puffickly huh-yooge") that repeat like a gnawing musical motif that you can't get out of your head. What you'll find unique is that this is a more cerebral work that likely won't grab your attention right off the bat. In fact, you may feel "smucking" frustrated by the language and the jumps in the time-line of the narrative. These seem to be intentional literary devices that King has mastered, so be patient... it serves its own purpose.
I've read everything that King has put out, starting with the Bachman books before I even knew they were Stephen King. If I had started with this book, I might be inclined to not read anything else by him, but as a fan in for the long-haul, this work has its place, and I enjoyed the slow mind-screw that the book provided.
We should just quit reviewing King. The words have all been said. I hope he's exercising and eating right, because it's going to be one sad day when he's gone.
I passed this novel by for several years, and I don't know why. It's excellent and his storyline blows in a different direction..more driven by character development than by horror and suspense. Although there is plenty of that also.
If you haven't read it, you might as well put it in your cart. You're going to soon or later anyway.
I listened to Duma Key before this and based off the reviews of the two books, was expecting less than I got from this than I did Duma Key.
When I read a horror story, I want something more than just a combination of scary moments. I want the scary thing in the story, whatever it is, to have real substance. I felt that in Lisey's Story, more so than most of his other works, King hit upon something very real and very evil. My favorite King work to date.
My first review for audible.com. I'm compelled to write in defense of this title, which some other readers haven't liked much.
It is all we love about Steven King. Masterful use of language to paint a vivid scene, often so recognizable from our own experience that it brings a smile. Characters so real they nearly leap from the page (or headphones, as the case may be...) A story so enthralling it's hard to forget.
Expertly read by Mare Winningham. No fancy studio effects, just simply and convincingly read aloud with appropriate emphasis in all the right places. She executes local dialects easily and consistently, without distracting from the power of the words of dialog. I would love to hear more from this reader.
Yes, a good deal of the story is told in flashbacks and internal dialog. You do have to pay attention to hold your place and time in the story. But that's a bargain that King often makes with his readers, and Oh! it's well worth meeting the challenge.
I bought this because it was written by Stephen King and I have greatly enjoyed pretty much everything he has written, including the much-maligned "Cell". What a disappointment this book turned out to be.
First of all, this is basically a love story. That's ok, I was interested in how King might approach the genre. The trouble is, the main character (Lisey Landon) is just plain boring. She appears to have no life, interest, or friends of her own. Her only relationships seem to be with her sisters.
Even 2 years after his death, Lisey is still obesessing over Scott every waking minute, and in her dreams. This gets really tedious. The tedium is only partly alleviated by the stalker with whom Lisey needs to deal, and by the flashbacks to Scott's childhood where some seriously King-style supernaturalism is going on in the form of were-wolfism, parallel existences, and some nasty but mysterious beast called 'Long Boy'.
Like many other reviewers I found the constant overuse of catch-words and catch-phrases ('smucking', 'bad gunkie', 'strap it on', etc ad nauseam) intensely irritating. Unlike some, I was able to follow the somewhat overcomplicated structure of many of the flashbacks, though there were times I came too close to literally losing the plot.
I also came close on several occasions to giving up on this book before the end. I didn't because it was King, and I was sure he would spring a surprise and turn the whole experience around. It didn't happen. I should have given up and used those hours for something else.
Those King fans looking for Cujo, Carrie, or The Shining will probably not like this book. Those looking for The Green Mile or Shawshank Redemption probably will.
I truly loved this book and found myself thinking over and over about my husband and our crazy quirks. Many days after listening and getting home after my daily commute I hugged him a little harder.