**spoiler alert** I suppose firstly, I should admit that Stephen King is the man who has shared my bed the most after my husband. That got to the poin**spoiler alert** I suppose firstly, I should admit that Stephen King is the man who has shared my bed the most after my husband. That got to the point where, right around "Black House" hubby made a complaint about having to share me in bed with Mr. King and I never brought a book to bed again unless I was all by my onesies. Since I was a preteen Mr. King has always been there for me in his own weird existential way. Through marriages, births, deaths, moving, depression, great highs of life and everything in between he's been right there sitting on the shelf or on my lap. The silent witness to everything I've ever experienced. Always ready and willing to offer me an escape when I needed it just like a good pal should.
The title of the book; for those of you wondering what kind of a key that is….it's one off the coast of Florida. As in the Florida Keys. Not a special key to a spooky door or something like that. It's the masterfully told story of Edgar Freemantle, one-time construction company owner turned artiste. It's also the story of Jerome Wireman and Elizabeth Eastlake, two very wonderful characters. Edgar and Jerome have more than just a shading of Red and Andy in them and I love that.
If you've never read a Stephen King book before start with this one, if you've read them all get this one because you'll love it even more. It's not King at his terrifying horrifying best. Not the King that keeps you up all night wondering what's going to happen and worst of all, what's that moving in the corner of the bedroom? As I said, more like the King who wrote "Shawkshank Redemption", "Green Mile" and "Stand by Me" (a/k/a "The Body" original short story title). That's not to say it doesn't have its creepy parts, most of it is pretty creepy/odd/weird but not overly so not like, say, Pennywise or Cujo. This is a really good Camp Fire Story—not that I'd know, I've never been camping, but had I at least once sat around a camp fire and heard a tale spun out for me, I imagine it would be a lot like this one…but shorter. It's like…it's like…it's like walking out a local convenience store and seeing someone you haven't seen in years sitting there smiling at you, as though they knew you were there and they were waiting for you to come out. When you do he slings an arm around your shoulders and says; hey, long time no see. How the hell are ya? I know it's been a while but look, I got something to show ya. You're gonna love it. C'mon walk with for a little bit, it's just up the road, right up there and around the corner…in the dark.
I have to say that I love him most when he tells a story that involves one of two things or both; 1- an creative person as the central character; a writer or as in Edgar's case a budding painter and 2- a child/children as main player(s). He's always good for having kids in his stories and I think he uses them masterfully because no matter how bad it gets, how scary or creepy or outright gross! That underlying air of innocence always remains it is there just as surely as the crazy clown, rabid dog, and pets raised from the dead are there. The juxtaposition is genius and he uses it better than anyone I've ever read.
Back to that first one; the writer, the artist, the creative individual. I love those characters best because I identify with them and not just because they're a writer but because he puts so much of himself and the Creative Process into the character. Only someone who truly gets way far into the Zone can know what that's like. Only they know the hunger, the absolute ravenous hunger that comes after. Only they know the bone tiredness of it that settles over you with the crash. He talks about them openly. Sort of like I do here from time to time. The Truth, my friends and neighbors, the Truth. Above everything else, no matter how hard it gets or how ugly it becomes always tell the Truth of the story or paint the Truth of the picture. You will be greatly rewarded in the end. This is a major lesson I have learned from him over the years and which was reinforced in this latest novel with such ferocity and tenderness that it often brought a tear to my eye as I read or I found myself nodding my head saying; yep, you got it, Steve, you got it. Over the years there have been many times when I swore he looked into my head, plucked something out, said; that looks interesting, and put it into a story. Then I realize I'm not unique and neither is whatever the experience was, it's probably just something we've all gone through in one way or another, something that binds us all together as human beings. Good old Common Ground. That's another he's great at finding and weaving into the tale he's telling.
There are a few things that are hard for the Reader to take in this book but then again Life is full of bitter little pills that we have to swallow, like it or not. It seems that no one is more acutely aware of this than my old buddy, my pal. With most he does a very good job of preparing the Reader beforehand…kudos, Steve especially where a certain daughter is concerned. Even though you know its coming and you don't have to experience it.—he's kind enough to spare you that and just tell you about it after it happens—it still stings, a lot. I kept hoping he was going to find a way to reverse it even though after all these years I know that's not really his style.
Hope is a dangerous thing, so sayeth Red, so sayeth we all.
Then, of course, there's the last little twist of the knife. It's only about six words long but I bawled my eyes out at the end of this story and I'm misting up now just thinking about it. Ah, the hallmark of a well told tale; the emotion lingers long after the second cover has been closed. I sat there with it, hugging it tightly for a while and thinking about all the characters I'd just met and the things I'd gone through with them.
As with most King stories there is also that last little ray of hope, that glimmer, that shimmer, in the dark that tells you no matter what happens, no matter how hard or how bad it gets it will get better, the sun will shine again eventually and we'll all be ok in the end.
I learned a new saying with this story and I kinda like it. Do the day and let the day do you. I might adopt that as my new attitude.
What more can I say except….read this book! Don't wait for the paperback. Go. Now. Get it. Read it. What are you waiting for?...more