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Right to Life: And 2 New Stories Paperback – December 19, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Gauntlet Press (December 19, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1887368566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1887368568
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jack Ketchum "is on a par with Clive Barker (Hellraiser), James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential) and Thomas Harris (The Silence of The Lambs)," and that "the only novelist working today that is writing more important fiction is Cormack McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road). - Stephen King

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for novelist Dallas Mayr. He was born in Livingston, New Jersey in 1946. A onetime actor, teacher, and lumber salesman, Ketchum credits his childhood love of Elvis Presley, dinosaurs, and horror for getting him through his formative years. As a teenager, was befriended by Robert Bloch, author of "Psycho" who became a mentor to him. He supported Ketchum's work just as his work was supported by his own mentor, H.P. Lovecraft. This relationship with Bloch lasted until his death in 1994.

A pivotal point in Jack Ketchum's career came while he was working for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency. He met Henry Miller and assisted him as his agent until shortly before his death in 1980. His extraordinary encounter with Miller at his home in Pacific Palisades is one of the subjects of his memoir in "Book of Souls".

In 1980, Jack Ketchum published his first novel "Off Season". Stephen King said in his acceptance speech at the 2003 National Book Awards that "Off Season set off a furor in my supposed field, that of horror, that was unequaled until the advent of Clive Barker. It is not too much to say that these two gentlemen remade the face of American popular fiction." Ketchum has received continued praise by King throughout their friendship.

Ketchum's work is largely based upon true events. The Girl Next Door , for example, was inspired by the 1965 murder of the young Sylvia Likens. In the special edition of the novel, King, who volunteered to write the preface, wrote one of the longest introductions of his career. He later went on to say that the movie adaptation of the book was "the first authentically shocking American film I've seen since Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer over 20 years ago. If you are easily disturbed, you should not watch this movie. If, on the other hand, you are prepared for a long look into hell, suburban style, The Girl Next Door will not disappoint. This is the dark-side-of-the-moon version of Stand By Me."

He has received numerous Bram Stoker Awards for works such as "The Box", "Closing Time", and "Peaceable Kingdom". As his books gained in worldwide popularity, they also began to be adapted into feature films, the first of which was "Jack Ketchum's The Lost" which went on to be a cult success, followed by the highly controversial second film "The Girl Next Door". However, the main launch for Jack Ketchum into international commercial and critical success was the long-awaited release by Magnolia Pictures of the film Red, based on his novel, starring Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy) and Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan). After favorable reviews at The Sundance Film Festival, the movie made a critical showing in the United States and enjoyed relative success internationally with subsequent translations of the novel.

The author enjoyed more international succes with the publication and film version of "The Woman" co-written and directed by Lucky McKee in which the New York Times said "in this lean adaptation of a novel by Jack Ketchum and himself, maintains an artfully calibrated pace, investing a powerful parable with an abundance of closely observed details. Like David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski, Mr. McKee is a master at drawing suspense from pregnant silences."

Jack Ketchum continues his rise with the present showing of "The Woman" at the Sundance Film Festival 2011 co-written by Ketchum with director Lucky McKee. The novel is to be released this year.

Kethcum lives in New York City where he continues to write, articles, reviews, short stories, novels and screenplays. For more information go to international website:

Customer Reviews

Actually this book isn't really about the abortion debate at all.
Ja'Maul Redmond
They will torture her and torment her for their own pleasure as they await the child's arrival.
Sebastien Pharand
I found this a not so well developed story fantastic, pretty cruel and exaggerated..
Luis Pumarada

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Wayne C. Rogers on November 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Unlike Jack Ketchum's earlier novel, LADIES NIGHT, his newest one, RIGHT TO LIFE, definitely has the shoe on the other foot as a pregnant woman becomes the victim of a deranged married couple that kidnap her right off the street and hold her captive for several months while she's forced to endure their bizarre S&M games.

The 139-page novella starts off with Sara Foster on her way to an abortion clinic to do away with the unwanted child she's now carrying. Before Sara can even enter the clinic, she's grabbed and sedated by Stephen and Katherine Teach-a couple who's unable to have children. Sara is taken to their home where she's held as a prisoner. The couple intend to hold Sara until the baby is born and then kill her.

Stephen, however, has other plans for his beautiful captive as well. He's going to get the most out Sara's luscious body by using her to fulfill his own perverted desires. Forcing her to submit in whatever sexual manner he chooses, she's mentally and physically tortured on a daily basis. Even Stephen's wife decides to get in on the action by making the prisoner her sex slave when the hubby begins to lose interest after a few months have past.

Sara instinctively knows that she has to find a way out before it's too late, but time is her worse enemy as she grows bigger and more powerless with her pregnancy. She also understands that if she does manage to escape, the couple may very well come after her. This leaves her with just one kill them first!

RIGHT TO LIFE will shock you to the core as it depicts one's person's attempt to survive unimaginable torture and humiliation in order to keep from being killed. Mr. Ketchum never pulls his punches with the violence and craziness.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sebastien Pharand on June 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
Right To Life might very well be Jack Ketchum's most striking, affecting and brilliant story since The Girl Next Door. Once more, he comes at us full force to have us face the most terrifying and most disturbing nightmare of all: Death.
A woman considering having an abortion is kidnapped by a couple who desires a child. They will keep her prisoner for the full term of her pregnancy in the hopes of keeping the child for themselves once it comes. They will torture her and torment her for their own pleasure as they await the child's arrival.
Dark, disturbing and terrifyingly realistic, Right To Life is a novella only the twisted mind of Jack Ketchum could conceive. Ketchum's strength lies in presenting his readers with realistic horror. His stories rarely rely on the paranormal, opting instead to investigate the demons that can plague one's mind. And this book isn't an exception to the rule.
Right To Life is a psychological tour the force that will leave you breathless. It's the kind of book which you will forever remember, which will haunt you long after you have finished reading it. This is Ketchum at his best and darkest.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By bonsai chicken on April 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
A woman is kidnapped in front of an abortion clinic by a desperate, psychotic couple so that she can bear a child for them. Feeding her unlikely stories of an organization that deals in human slaves, they lock her up in their basement and torment her for the remainder of her pregnancy.
The plot is thin even for a 140-page novella. Beyond the initial abduction and imprisonment, the drama never escalates, and so it grows tiresome. The story might have actually been more interesting had it been expanded into a longer form, and shown us what is going on elsewhere as the woman's lover and family try to find her. But unfortunately the author doesn't concern himself with any of that.
The story's other major flaw is how inept the villains are. At one point they go so far as to reveal their full names, in an attempt to set up a safety net that would never work. And though the wife is a nurse, she doesn't seem to be aware that what they're doing can very likely affect the health of the baby she wants so badly. Despite their actions, they just don't feel threatening, and the reader gets the impression that their captive could easily outwit them if she waits for the right moment. The abuses heaped upon the protagonist are so mundane that it doesn't even earn points in the extreme horror category.
Also included in this edition are two short stories. "Brave Girl" follows the aftermath of a child's emergency call. "Returns" is a bittersweet tale of a ghost who has one final task to complete.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Raymond Casta on September 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Review: "Right to Life"

You ever feel dirty after reading a novel? Because that is exactly how Jack Ketchum's "Right to Life" novella will make you feel afterwards. Like Ketchum's "The Girl Next Door" (which was inspired by the tragic Indiana Torture Slaying), "Right to Life" is primarily based on the Cameron Hooker case. Read "Perfect Victim" for the full story, of Cameron and Janice Hooker, who held a young hitchhiker captive for 7 years. Ketchum tells the story of one, Sara Foster, who is currently in a relationship with a married man, Greg Clover. Several years ago, Sara lost her son to a tragic accident. By mistake, she is impregnated during the affair with Greg. If Greg's wife ever finds out about the affair, their life together would be over. He particularly doesn't wish her to know he got another woman, Sara, pregnant. As the story begins, Greg is driving Sara over to a Manhatten abortion clinic, where dozens and dozens of New Yorkers protest right to life. In the midst of the protesting, Sara is abducted by married Stephen, and Katherine Teach, who drug her and then whisk her away to their New Jersey residence. Sara awakens from her stupor in the Teach's basement/torture chamber. There, she is tortured physically, mentally and sexually by Stephen, who is an evil psychopath who uses a story to brainwash Sara into believing she is his and Katherine's slave, and her and her family will be killed if she ever disobeys. The Teach's plan is to keep her captive until she bears her child. Sooner or later, Stephen becomes less interested in his own wife than he does his "slave", who is repeatedly tortured throughout. It even seems like he'd rather have the slave than the baby. Lonely, Katherine even finds herself sexually attracted by Sara.
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