Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around. — Stephen King, ‘On Writing’
There’s an old maxim: “To be the best, you have to beat the best.’ I say, “To be the best, you have to learn from the best.” And I credit a great for inspiring me to partake of his craft.
I’ll be the first to admit that Stephen King, the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient in 2003 by the Horror Writer’s Association and National Book Foundations medal recipient for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, taught me how to write.
Two of the first books I’ve ever read by Steve were ‘Cujo’ and ‘The Dead Zone.’ And I’ve been a habitual buyer of King’s books for more that a decade — beyond fandom. It’s like a pupil studying his master or sensei.
With the purchase of Duma Key, it makes book No. 32, more than half of his 58 works written (not including scripts, screenplays, ebooks). And to commemorate the number, CDreamz has a list of the Top 10 King books in the library.
But this piece isn’t about how I wanted to create a great horror story like Salem’s Lot or a tear jerker from a series like The Green Mile.
This is a book review of Duma Key.
Some years ago — 1999 to be exact — King was involved in an infamous accident were he was hit by a van while walking. There has been 11 books (one short story collection, another a memoir) and besides ‘On Writing,’ none addressed the accident like the 11th, Duma Key. Edgar Freemantle indirectly reflects the aftermath of King’s accident. A banged up hip, head trauma, rehab.
And also like King, Freemantle uses art (for King, writing was the art) to get his life back to some type of order (whatever that maybe for an amputee) when he moves to the Florida Gulf island of Duma Key. But Duma holds a dark, hidden secret that Freemantle uncovers through the very paintings that he produced.
Duma Key was published in January so unfortunately I got a late start, not reading it until now. However, the story is intriguing once you let your mind free to let it carry you. The tale behind Duma Key is a puzzle — not quite as suspenseful as mystery novels — but enough that should want to keep you reading til the end.
Better than his previous novel Lisey’s Story (not counting ‘Blaze’), Duma Key is 609 pages of human abstraction — only King can deliver.