November 29th, 2012

River brainkiller

Howling Ghosts They Reappear

Right now Of Monsters and Men are keeping me sane at work. In my six-and-a-half years at this company, I have never actually wanted to quit. Until now. It's just too much. Thank you, Iceland, for this musical salve.

Here, have a book review I forgot to post a month ago.

While I had no specific desire to read Duma Key, I jumped at the chance to have John Slattery read me a Stephen King book! It's about an artist or something? And it seems to have decent reviews on Goodreads? All right, let's do it.

Edgar Freemantle loses his arm in a freak construction accident, and the only prescription is more cowbell an island retreat. His marriage has fallen apart, and his therapist thinks he could use some time away from his life down in Duma Key. There, he takes up painting...and he paints with preternatural ability. Both in the sense that his art is astonishingly good for a beginning artist and in the sense that his art...well, this is a Stephen King novel, okay?

That basic plot outline is all I had to go on, and I don't really want to give away any more than that except for the simple reassurance to stick with this book. Duma Key takes a looooooong time to get going. For the first third of the book, it's almost entirely just Edgar by himself, which isn't terribly compelling, especially since he doesn't seem like that great a guy. Once he starts meeting more people on the island, however, the book begin to improve. The middle third ebbs and flows a bit, teasing the reader with the promise of real supernatural mayhem. There were times through all of this where I didn't feel completely invested, where I felt like I probably could walk away. I am really glad I didn't because the last third pays off in a big way: it's exciting and thrilling and distressing in the way I expect a King book to be.

And the reason is because not only has King laid the groundwork for what happens in all the strange occurrences and weird bits of history, but he has also drawn you in completely with his characters. I grew to like Edgar a lot, as it turned out, as we got to see his relationships with the various people in his life. Pam, his estranged ex-wife. Ilse, his favorite daughter. Wireman, his island best friend. Jack, his island buddy. Elizabeth Eastlake, his landlady. And so many more. King spends time (perhaps too much time) on the little details of human interaction. The world of Duma Key feels real and lived in, and I don't know how effective the last third would be if I hadn't ended up unexpectedly caring about them.

John Slattery's reading also helped draw me in. Initially, I was amused by the idea that Roger Sterling was reading me a book, but then I realized that he didn't actually sound like Sterling: he sounded like Edgar Freemantle. While there wasn't a huge variation in his voices, it was definitely fun to hear him as a Southern lady.

Duma Key may be tough to get into, but it is an ultimately rewarding and satisfying journey.