Some strengths of Duma Key:
Chararacters that became, at least to me, more real as friends than some people I know.
Hard-won insight into what makes us human, how we deal with time, loss, fear of loss (Since when have you taken the chance to make friends with an 86 year old woman?), the mysterious tangle of creativity.... This all makes me want to, rather than a dead sort of word like "literary," apply to King what someone, if I remember rightly, said about Ellington, "He knew what music was for." King knows what a novel is for. Get involved. Come along.
And finally, it includes a supernatural element that rather than making the story less powerful, merely paints it in King's chosen palette: vivid, disturbing, painful, tender, and essentially real where it matters most, and where perhaps it looms the most dangerous.
John Slattery, the reading was brilliant. Your voice stood up, offered me a cool drink, and became Wireman to me. I'll miss you, my friend. Highest honors.
***Humble Response to a Few Reviews**
It's been mentioned in some of these reviews that 1) the language was unnecessarily coarse and 2) that it started slow.
First, the language is entirely appropriate to an adult novel where organic brain trauma is involved. The protagonist's verbal outbursts can be, unfortunately, all too accurate, and are intended (I believe) to frighten the reader as it does the characters involved--to offend one's sense of how things ought to be.
In response to the second, I found the pace of his development added to my involvement in the story, and helped to add the kind of inevitablity, depth, and increasing momentum so present in the best of some of King's work. Also, I believe for the novel to work as well as it does, that we must see, really see, what happens there, and in that order.
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