Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lisey's Story

The author of Lisey's Story (2006) needs no introduction, so I'm going to dispense with that.  Unlike many hardcore King fans, I prefer his recent more fantastical work over his earlier novels that tended toward classic horror tales.  I really loved Duma Key (reviewed here on the blog), the novel that followed Lisey's Story and had read that the two novels together deal heavily with King's thoughts on marriage and divorce.  Note:  I listened to this as an audiobook.

The story recounts events over the course of several days in the life of Lisey Landon, wife of the award-winning novelist Scott Landon.  As the novel opens, Lisey is settling down to go through her late husband's papers two years after his death before donating them to a public collection.  A series of events causes Lisey to recall memories and events in Scott Landon's life that she had apparently been repressing for many years.  These are presented to the reader as a series of flashback chapters scattered throughout the novel and often coincide with key events in the Landon's marriage.

It is in these portions of the book where the real story of the novel takes place.  We learn the tragic upbringing of Scott Landon at the hands of his father who is held in the grips of a serious mental illness.  He is forced to take refuge by traveling to a fantastical land he names "Boo'ya Moon."  This location becomes central to Lisey in the present day, as she is slowly drawn by clues left by Scott into Boo'ya Moon in a desperate attempt to save her own sister from mental illness.  

I must say that I almost didn't make it through the first part of the book for a couple of reasons.  First, it took quite some time to build the groundwork so that the novel's actual plot could get underway.  For instance, there was an extensive flashback toward the beginning of the book that I was unable to put into context until much later in the novel.  The ultimately left me feeling fairly uninterested in what was going on until about halfway into the book.  To compound my confusion, Scott and Lisey share a language between themselves.  The novel is peppered with phrases such as "bool," "smucking," "SOWISA," and "strap it on."   I suppose this speaks to the closeness and intimacy of their marriage, but it adds another layer of complexity to a fairly intricate plot.  Plus, I honestly found the made-up language annoying.

Ultimately, the novel pulls itself together toward the latter quarter of the book and manages to redeem itself somewhat (I was going to give it a solid two hamster rating until near the end).  If you had to choose one King book to read, I wouldn't recommend this one.  On the other hand, if you a die hard King fan and can't get enough, Lisey's Story does a passable job of satisfy the craving.

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