Here is my Stephen King dilemma: I think he is one of the most talented American writers alive today. I love the way he writes. I love his stories. But I can't read horror. I just can't! So I flirt around the edges of King's oeuvre, having read only "11-22-63,""The Dead Zone" and "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft." With this book, I continue my flirtation with the edge of not-quite-horror.
It takes a few pages to get into the book simply because of the way it is written. Dolores Claiborne has apparently been hauled into the local police station of Little Tall Island, a small island off the coast of Maine and where Dolores has lived her entire life. She is being questioned for a murder she claims she didn't commit but in the process cops to one she did commit decades earlier.
The book is her hours-long oral statement to two police officers, both of whom she has known since they were little boys, and a court stenographer. It's one long quotation. One long chapter. But once I got into the flow of Dolores's words and story, it was a riveting read as we readers become one with the mind of a murderer. Ah, but under the circumstances, wouldn't many have done the same thing?
This is not a horror story. It's a dramatic, tragic psychological narrative, but also it's a literary achievement—and exactly why I love reading Stephen King (around the edges, that is).