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Duma Key: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Stephen King
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,052 customer reviews)

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Book Description

No more than a dark pencil line on a blank page. A horizon line, maybe. But also a slot for blackness to pour through...

A terrible construction site accident takes Edgar Freemantle's right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. A marriage that produced two lovely daughters suddenly ends, and Edgar begins to wish he hadn't survived the injuries that could have killed him. He wants out. His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests a "geographic cure," a new life distant from the Twin Cities and the building business Edgar grew from scratch. And Kamen suggests something else.

"Edgar, does anything make you happy?"

"I used to sketch."

"Take it up again. You need hedges... hedges against the night."

Edgar leaves Minnesota for a rented house on Duma Key, a stunningly beautiful, eerily undeveloped splinter of the Florida coast. The sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico and the tidal rattling of shells on the beach call out to him, and Edgar draws. A visit from Ilse, the daughter he dotes on, starts his movement out of solitude. He meets a kindred spirit in Wireman, a man reluctant to reveal his own wounds, and then Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman whose roots are tangled deep in Duma Key. Now Edgar paints, sometimes feverishly, his exploding talent both a wonder and a weapon. Many of his paintings have a power that cannot be controlled. When Elizabeth's past unfolds and the ghosts of her childhood begin to appear, the damage of which they are capable is truly devastating.
The tenacity of love, the perils of creativity, the mysteries of memory and the nature of the supernatural -- Stephen King gives us a novel as fascinating as it is gripping and terrifying.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Significant Seven, January 2008: It would be impossible to convey the wonder and the horror of Stephen King's latest novel in just a few words. Suffice it to say that Duma Key, the story of Edgar Freemantle and his recovery from the terrible nightmare-inducing accident that stole his arm and ended his marriage, is Stephen King's most brilliant novel to date (outside of the Dark Tower novels, in which case each is arguably his best work). Duma Key is as rich and rewarding as Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (yes, that Shawshank Redemption), and as truly scary as anything King has written (and that's saying a lot). Readers who have "always wanted to try Stephen King" but never known where to start should try a few pages of Duma Key--the frankness with which Edgar reveals his desperate, sputtering rages and thoughts of suicide is King at the top of his game. And that's just the first thirty pages... --Daphne Durham

Duma Key: Where It All Began
A Note from Chuck Verrill, the Longtime Editor of Stephen King
In the spring of 2006 Stephen King told me he was working on a Florida story that was beginning to grow on him. "I'm thinking of calling it Duma Key," he offered. I liked the sound of that--the title was like a drumbeat of dread. "You know how Lisey's Story is a story about marriage?" he said. "Sure," I answered. The novel hadn't yet been published, but I knew its story well: Lisey and Scott Landon--what a marriage that was. Then he dropped the other shoe: "I think Duma Key might be my story of divorce."

Pretty soon I received a slim package from a familiar address in Maine. Inside was a short story titled "Memory"--a story of divorce, all right, but set in Minnesota. By the end of the summer, when Tin House published "Memory," Stephen had completed a draft of Duma Key, and it became clear to me how "Memory" and its narrator, Edgar Freemantle, had moved from Minnesota to Florida, and how a story of divorce had turned into something more complex, more strange, and much more terrifying.

If you read the following two texts side by side--"Memory" as it was published by Tin House and the opening chapter of Duma Key in final form--you'll see a writer at work, and how stories can both contract and expand. Whether Duma Key is an expansion of "Memory" or "Memory" a contraction of Duma Key, I can't really say. Can you?

--Chuck Verrill

Memories are contrary things; if you quit chasing them and turn your back, they often return on their own. That's what Kamen says. I tell him I never chased the memory of my accident. Some things, I say, are better forgotten.

Maybe, but that doesn’t matter, either. That's what Kamen says.

My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in building and construction. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I was a genuine American-boy success in that life, worked my way up like a motherf---er, and for me, everything worked out. When Minneapolis–St. Paul boomed, The Freemantle Company boomed. When things tightened up, I never tried to force things. But I played my hunches, and most of them played out well. By the time I was fifty, Pam and I were worth about forty million dollars. And what we had together still worked. I looked at other women from time to time but never strayed. At the end of our particular Golden Age, one of our girls was at Brown and the other was teaching in a foreign exchange program. Just before things went wrong, my wife and I were planning to go and visit her.

I had an accident at a job site. That's what happened. I was in my pickup truck. The right side of my skull was crushed. My ribs were broken. My right hip was shattered. And although I retained sixty percent of the sight in my right eye (more, on a good day), I lost almost all of my right arm.

I was supposed to lose my life, but I didn’t. Then I was supposed to become one of the Vegetable Simpsons, a Coma Homer, but that didn't happen, either. I was one confused American when I came around, but the worst of that passed. By the time it did, my wife had passed, too. She's remarried to a fellow who owns bowling alleys. My older daughter likes him. My younger daughter thinks he’s a yank-off. My wife says she’ll come around.

Maybe , maybe no. That's what Kamen says.

When I say I was confused, I mean that at first I didn’t know who people were, or what had happened, or why I was in such awful pain. I can't remember the quality and pitch of that pain now. I know it was excruciating, but it's all pretty academic. Like a picture of a mountain in National Geographic magazine. It wasn’t academic at the time. At the time it was more like climbing a mountain.

Continue Reading "Memory"

Duma Key
How to Draw a Picture
Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I’ve come to believe.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon-line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil... hesitating... and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice. Pictures are magic, as you know.

My Other Life
My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I learned that my-other-life thing from Wireman. I want to tell you about Wireman, but first let's get through the Minnesota part.

Gotta say it: I was a genuine American-boy success there. Worked my way up in the company where I started, and when I couldn’t work my way any higher there, I went out and started my own. The boss of the company I left laughed at me, said I'd be broke in a year. I think that's what most bosses say when some hot young pocket-rocket goes off on his own.

For me, everything worked out. When Minneapolis–St. Paul boomed, The Freemantle Company boomed. When things tightened up, I never tried to play big. But I did play my hunches, and most played out well. By the time I was fifty, Pam and I were worth forty million dollars. And we were still tight. We had two girls, and at the end of our particular Golden Age, Ilse was at Brown and Melinda was teaching in France, as part of a foreign exchange program. At the time things went wrong, my wife and I were planning to go and visit her.

Continue Reading Duma Key

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. King's latest novel is a fantastically eerie tale in line with his best psychological thrillers. John Slattery offers a triumphal performance—his firm, gripping tone perfectly suits this story of the darker side of human memory and creativity. The characters are each so different and complicated, creating a challenge for even the most seasoned narrator. But Slattery does the near-impossible and physically becomes Edgar Freemantle. In fact, the two become so inseparable the listener almost feels guilty listening to his heartfelt confessions. King's vision of Freemantle's fictional personal memoir demands a narrator so believable and solid in his delivery that it seems almost impossible. But Slattery creates a truly moving experience, commanding and truthful.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2625 KB
  • Print Length: 801 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Canadian edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,872 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
332 of 365 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Stephen King's best January 22, 2008
Yes, it's scary. Yes, it's long. But this new novel is more than just another Stephen King book. With a streamlined style and a plot that's never predictable, it's King at his crisp, clear, page-turning best. Before you read further, let me acknowledge I'm incredibly biased here. Not only have I been a Stephen King fan ever since 1975's 'Salem's Lot, I live on a small island off the west coast of Florida, exactly where this story takes place. Great sunsets, a beach lined with huge rental homes, a populace of "the newly wed and the living dead".... they're all part and parcel to this story, and all around me as I sit here typing on my little porch.

Beyond the colorful setting, "Duma Key" combines the concepts of bodies gone bad and creativity gone wild -- typical King material -- with the everlasting powers of friendship and love. It's a great beach read, an outstanding character study, a terrific horror story and, eventually, an uplifting tale of moral redemption.

Obviously that's plenty of raw material, but King masters it all, with a writing style that's better than ever. As always his imagery is simply stated yet memorably vivid -- waves, for example, crash on the beach with the sound of "the breath of some large sleeping creature" -- and even the most basic sentences and paragraphs have a perfect mix of energy, grace and wit. This time, however, King really takes his time, with a slow pace that allows for plenty of character development and story detail.
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117 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King at his best! January 24, 2008
Scary, long, fun, and more than just another Stephen King book. I've read Stephen King for years and I am always amazed at his story lines. His style made me feel as if I was 'in the story,' truly a treat. From Carrie to Duma Key it has been a good ride and I hope it continues for years to come.

In Duma Key, Edgar Freemantle had proven that the American dream works. As a building contractor in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, he made a lot of money and received plenty of acclaim. He and his beloved wife Pam were worth at least forty million by the time he turned 50. They had two children. The end of his "Golden Age" began when he experienced a basic law of physics that being a pickup truck has no chance against a twelve-story crane.

Edgar came out of that crash with a cracked skull, and a fractured left side with broken ribs, a broken right hip and loss vision and his right arm was lost. He was fortunate to have survived. Twenty-five years of marriage ended when a constantly raging Edgar became verbally abusive to Pam who visited everyday as he recuperated. Edgar also suddenly displayed a talent as an artist.

Needing to leave behind people, he flees to Duma Key, Florida where only two other trauma survivors reside. Edgar finds out his new artistic skills enables him to see and change the future life and death of others even as he investigates the tragic history of his new island home.

Readers will sense the rage inside Edgar even as he calmly tells his tale. This is Stephen King at his best as he uses the theme of a person feeling isolated ready to strike out at others even loved ones.
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266 of 295 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Personal Vision January 22, 2008
By Tom S.
This is one of the best books ever from one of the best American writers. Stephen King knows what scares us, and he's been proving it for thirty years, but this new novel adds a layer of humanity to the fantasy that makes it all the more surprising. Though the protagonist of DUMA KEY is ostensibly a divorced construction engineer with a latent talent for drawing, he is also clearly a stand-in for the author himself, making this arguably his most personal narrative.

I won't reveal the hypnotically readable plot--it must be experienced to be appreciated--but I will say that Edgar Freemantle's living nightmare plainly echoes events in Mr. King's recent history. A life-threatening accident, like an illness or the loss of a loved one, puts many things in perspective, and DUMA KEY sometimes seems like a personal statement, a portrait of the artist that is as thrilling as it is vivid. For all its entertaining terrors, it is ultimately a celebration of life itself. I urge you to read it. Highly, highly recommended.
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85 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen King's Breakout Novel? January 24, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Duma Key" is King at the top of his form. For someone who's been one of the best in the business for over thirty years, it's difficult to imagine new territory to chart...but that's exactly what King does here in his first novel set in Florida. Make no mistake: This is a classic King novel with all of the supernatural bells-and-whistles. But there's an added emotional depth that will touch more readers than past King books, I think.

The first 100 pages are a moving feat even for King, who draws upon his own accident as well recalling the horrific events in Abigail Thomas's memoir A Three Dog Life. King has been flirting with critical acclaim to match his commercial success for years, and this may finally be the book that elevates his status to another level in literary circles. Don't call it a comeback, though, because we all know that he never really left his Constant Readers.

Edgar Freemantle, the narrator, is in an accident that leaves him without an arm and with a shifting memory. But the story doesn't stop there. I could summarize the plot, but that would take some of the mystery away. So here's what King has to say about the basis of the novel: "[Edgar] discovers that, after this injury, that he is really a very talented painter and he moves to Florida and he starts to paint these pictures and then strange things start to happen with the pictures... And there is something going on, on this island, this Duma Key that is actually amping that talent up and making it stronger because there is something wrong there." (Lilja's Library interview, 01/17/07.)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Wonderful story, then the last couple of chapters takes us over the edge.
Published 3 days ago by Barrie Murdock
5.0 out of 5 stars page turner
Great read. Very entertaining another good story told by one of the best authors of all time. Thank you mr king.
Published 5 days ago by Stephen Holzen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Absolutely LOVED it
Published 5 days ago by Jessica K. Clotfelter
4.0 out of 5 stars I love the Florida area
I chose the book initially because it was Stephen King and for the setting. I love the Florida area, the tropical lushness so I thought it might take me away from winter while I... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Peter R Haslock
5.0 out of 5 stars Use two books as spacers to raise your monitor because it’s always...
Please people with the money, if you buy a new book, include a used one in your shopping cart. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Ricky Taillefer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good but not as good as most King books.
Published 12 days ago by gprokosch
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
So far so good
Published 12 days ago by Leslie
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read with just the right amount of mystery mixed ...
Good read with just the right amount of mystery mixed with South Florida lore and some some interesting character development.
Published 16 days ago by Cynthia L Kamp
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Stephen King novel since The Stand
The best Stephen King novel since The Stand begins with what I perceive to be is best opening paragraphs, which tie together the themes of art and creation in a zen-like way that... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read. At no point was it a
Very good read . At no point was it a labour
Published 17 days ago by racin carz
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More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

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Topic From this Discussion
Are there are any annoyed artists out there?
I hate it when artists try to tell an author how to write.
Feb 8, 2008 by scott colbert |  See all 22 posts
Inconsistencies during climax of book?
When they find the ladder in the barn, Wireman assigns Jack the task of going down, due to the fact that Jack weighs less than him. Edgar claims the job when they arrive at the cistern -not because he weighs less, but because Perse murdered Ilse.

Edgar doesn't tell Wireman there isn't any. He... Read More
Feb 15, 2010 by tracy |  See all 4 posts
If movie, who to play Edgar Freemantle?
I can see Ed Harris a s Freemantle and Judd Hirsch as Wireman, but they'd have to get scruffy.
Aug 15, 2008 by Tom Naples |  See all 60 posts
The Dark Tower
I have always wondered why these haven't been read as much as his other stand alone works, because they are brilliant.
Jun 24, 2008 by Cody Welding |  See all 6 posts
Turned off by all the political rhetoric in the book?
He's peppered most of his stories with political asides, but the tone and consistency of his remarks in this one is a new benchmark for him. Too bad it's a first-person novel. It will just make it harder for some readers to "be" the protagonist.
Feb 27, 2008 by dtkirby |  See all 128 posts
Minnesota Geography Be the first to reply
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