Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Duma Key

I finished listening to the audiobook of Stephen King's novel Duma Key this morning on the way into work and all I can say is WOW!  As my wife will tell you, I've developed into quite the Stephen King fanboy over the past several years since reading the Dark Tower series.  What can I say other than that the man has a genius talent for writing?  I think that Duma Key is right up there with the best of his novels that I've read to date (not nearly all of them, btw).

Edgar Freemantle is horribly injured in an accident on a job site, losing his right arm and damaging the speech center of his brain.  After his marriage falls apart, he moves to Duma Key off the Florida sun coast to convalesce on the advice of his therapi.  He discovers an innate artistic ability and begins to sketch, and later paint, scenes that are unnaturally realistic.  He soon discovers that his works of art come with the ability to affect the real world.  Through his friendship with a fellow named Wireman, Freemantle comes to know Elizabeth Eastlake who grew up on the island and experienced a similar phenomenon early in her life.  As events proceed it becomes clear that the same ancient evil that used Eastlake in the 1920's has plans for Freemantle in the present day.  The novel culminates with a confrontation of this ancient evil in a furiously-paced conclusion to the book.

King's description of the Duma Key environs are rich and evoking.  I particularly enjoyed the wisdom of Jerome Wireman that pervades the prose (my favorite Wireman-ism:  "Do the day...and let the day do you.")  Being a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I can almost describe Duma Key as a modern-day take on the Cthulhu Mythos (with Perse playing the part of an Ancient One).

Of course, reading any King book, I always look for references to the Dark Tower, and I did manage to find a few in Duma Key.  Hey, maybe one might even have been on purpose?  First, one of Freemantle's paintings depicts roses growing up through the shell bed that lies underneath his house on the Key.  Roses are often used by King to denote sacred spots that are safe from evil.  Freemantle's artistic talent immediately recalled that of Patrick Danville (whose life is saved in King's Insomnia) who used his power to ultimately allow Roland to enter the Dark Tower.  Finally, the color red is used throughout the book to denote anger or evil.  A red haze would come over Freemantle's vision when he lost control of his anger, Perse's cloak as she stands on the bow of her ship is red, etc.  Perhaps the Crimson King was somehow influencing events in this world?

1 comment:

  1. You must read "The Stand" if you haven't yet. The first half of it is brilliant! It falls apart a bit at the end, but good stuff overall.