Lisey’s Story

Spring 2007 CSANews Issue 62  |  Posted date : Jun 06, 2007.Back to list

To those who are not fans of Stephen King's boogeyman bestsellers, Lisey's Story is something entirely different. It becomes a truly compelling tale of love and loss.

Lisey is the widow of a recently deceased, famous horror author. In this novel, she shares the details of their private lives and the creative sources of her husband, Scott Landon, who sounds very much like Stephen King.

As she sorts through Scott's papers, partly in response to pressure from toadying academics, Lisey is stalked by Dooley, a dangerously obsessive fan. Dooley's deadly threats provide electrifying action and suspense.

She also becomes aware of Landon's Boo'ya Moon, a magical parallel universe to which Landon escaped during the worst moments of his horrific childhood, and to which he returns for inspiration as an author. You can view the luscious landscape of Boo'ya Moon yourself, by simply removing the dust cover on Lisey's Story.

Only a person who has lived in a long-term relationship could so accurately describe "the internal language of marriage," the secret code words between couples. For Scott and Lisey, "smucking" was an all-purpose adjective and misfortunes were "bools" or "bad gunky." Scott never shouted "Hello" when he returned from a trip but, rather, "Hey Lisey, I'm home! Everything the same?"

It's very believable that Scott should continue to communicate with Lisey from beyond the grave; his voice in her head, and through clues he left in his books and manuscripts.

Through Lisey, King vividly expresses the pathos of widowhood, "crying for loss...crying for grief. The world is so empty and loveless when there's no one in it to holler your name and holler you home." Lisey wonders: "What good is love, if it comes to this?"

Descriptions of Scott Landon could also apply to Stephen King. King refers to Landon as a, "book, beer and inner-tube kind of guy," and Scott's writing as, "a kind of madness...a holy jukebox. Put in a couple of bucks, and out comes a smucking story." Scott explains to Lisey, "I have delusions and visions. I write them down, that's all. I write them down and people pay me to read them!" These details are corroborated in Stephen King's fascinating autobiography, "On Writing."
I imagine that King is speaking from experience when he describes addressing an excited crowd of fans, "the plug-in point, that pleasurable moment when the electricity flowed from him to the crowd, and then back to him, doubled or even tripled." Lisey has some funny, sardonic observations to make herself, on being the nearly invisible "gal pal," along on the "Book Tour."

There are some haunting phrases that will stay with you long after you finish Lisey's Story. Throughout the book, there are variations on how folks feel, "in the deepest ditch of the night when the moon is down, and hour is none."

King does get a little bizarre when Lisey visits Boo'ya Moon, but this is perhaps his most powerful and most personal novel and Lisey, his most loveable heroine.

A final observation from Lisey: "How lucky do you have to be, for your love to outrace your time?"

Willa McLean is a freelance writer who lives in Kitchener.