Holly's Reviews > Lisey's Story

Lisey's Story by Stephen King
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's review
Jan 24, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: horror, re-readable
Read in November, 2006

** spoiler alert ** One thing about stories is, what one reader loves another hates, which makes me think no one is really qualified to judge somebody else’s story, except to say I liked, I didn’t like (We’ll publish, we won’t publish). Still, I always want to say something about the things I read, and so I’m going to do it like so. I’ll post a list of things I liked, and a list of things I cared less for. I hope this way I’ll be able to offer my opinion without presuming to know the value of somebody else’s work.

Not that Stephen King couldn’t take it if I wanted to dish out, hee. He probably cries all the way to the bank over the bad things people say and write about him, or else just cackles madly.

Anyhow, here’s what I thought of Lisey’s Story, free of plot spoilers, but avert your eyes (scroll for the hills) now if you don’t want to see any details at all.

I liked:

* Characters of mature age and who are not painted with black and white but are also made up of generous quantities of gray (though not too much).
* Concept and imagery, such as the idea pool.
* Masterful handling of multiple timelines; this could have been confusing, but wasn’t.
* The fantasy-horror flavor combo he’s used before in things like Insomnia, Buick 8, Rose Madder. “New” King at its best, with just a hint of Talisman.

I didn’t care for:

* Heavy usage of invented language made me occasionally feel as though I was forgetting, or at least losing track of, important details.
* Mental illness used as a symptom of people who are *special and different*.

My OH NO moment in this story came when I realized I had another writer-as-character to try and stomach. This character–Lisey’s deceased husband Scott–was far more interesting than most of his writer-as-character ilk, and especially better than Johnny Marinville (who makes me want to whack him in the face with a shovel every time I reread Desperation/The Regulators.)

Plus there’s this bonus: Scott’s dead.

My “verdict” - I liked this book. I’ll read it again.

An aside, regarding the idea pool. King’s mind is like one of those big firehouse power tankers. Mine is more like one of those plastic squirters that used to come with the Amazing Live Sea Monkey Jumbo package. Trying to find ideas he hasn’t already vacuumed out of the pool is like…hard’nstuff.

There were a lot of nifty turns of phrase and quickie descriptions that left me whimpering and going, “I wish I could do that!” But here’s a quote I especially loved for its message and not its inherent cleverness. In context (p. 418), Scott Landon is comparing writing a novel without plotting to following string which might up and break on you, but then:

“But sometimes–if you were lucky, if you were brave, if you persevered–it brought you to a treasure. And the treasure was never the money you got for the book; the treasure was the book.”

Anyhow, that’s all I have to say about Lisey, who I ended up liking quite much after I almost didn’t.
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