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Bag of Bones Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1999
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No longer content to be the prolific provider of text, King grabs the audio reins to recount this haunted tale of grief, young love, and otherworldly visits. When 40-year-old bestselling novelist Mike Noonan returns to his lakeside cabin to process his wife's death, he finds the place a beacon for nightmares and ghoulish visits. But there's hope in Kingsville, as this struggling writer falls in love with a young widow named Mattie and her 3-year-old psychic daughter, Kyra. If you've never heard King speak, be warned: 19-plus hours of his western Maine, nasal-drenched tones may be more than some listeners can bear. But there's a certain warmth and believability to King's voice--after all, it's his book and he is a middle-aged bestselling novelist--that jive well with Noonan's character. And since King rarely reads his own work, perhaps his doing so indicates that he's especially pleased with Bag of Bones; most listeners should be as well. (Running time: 19.5 hours, 14 cassettes) --Rob McDonald --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Carrying galley copy that avoids the h(orror) word while touting its "O. Henry Award-winning author," King's latest novel features a marketing campaign in accord with the distinguished pedigree of his new publisher. But has King written a book that ranks him as a literary heavyweight? Indeed he has, though not by forsaking his roots: the novel is a classic ghost story. It opens quietly as narrator Mike Noonan, 40, bestselling author of romantic suspense potboilers (and latest in a line of King novelist-heroes, cf. Misery and The Dark Half) describes the death of his wife four years back and his consequent grief and writer's block. Mike has kept the block hidden from the publishing world?limned in delicious detail, with real names?by annually pulling one of his own, unpublished mss. from a safe-deposit box. Now that he's out of old novels to submit, he resolves to work through his troubles at Sara Laughs, his country house in backwoods Maine. Arriving there, Mike nearly drives over a three-year-old girl. She is Kyra, granddaughter?by way of beautiful young widow Mattie?of mad computer mogul Max Devore, who is hellbent on snatching the girl from her mother. Taking up Kyra's cause, falling in love with Mattie, Mike gears up for a custody battle. Invigorated, he breaks through his writer's block; but great danger, psychological and physical, awaits, from Max Devore but especially from the spirits, mostly malevolent, that haunt Sara Laughs due to hideous crimes committed by Devore's ancestor a century earlier. Violence, natural and supernatural, ensues as past and present mix, culminating in a torrent of climaxes that bind and illuminate the novel's many mysteries. From his mint-fresh etching of spooky rural Maine to his masterful pacing and deft handling of numerous themes, particularly of the fragility of our constructs about reality and of love's ability to mend rifts in those constructs, this is one of King's most accomplished novels. It is his most personal as well, revealing through Mike's broodings the intimacies of the creative writing process: a passionate gift from a veteran author to all who care about the art and craft of storytelling. 1.26 million first printing; BOMC main selection (Sept.) FYI: Bag of Bones is the only hardcover Scribner will publish in September.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
When I did start reading the King of Horror again (turns out sleeping on your side prevents sleep paralysis -- who knew?), I was underwhelmed and disappointed with some of his works I had not yet devoured (I.e.The Colorado Kid, Insomnia, to name a few). I had also seen the miniseries treatment of this novel, and thought it sucked, so it was only after reading a number of positive reviews on Amazon that I purchased and began BAG OF BONES.
I'm glad I gave it a chance. It's not the most frightening King novel I've ever read, but it kept my interest, and is a good yarn. It also seems to be one of King's more thoughtful works, openly exploring the rawness of grief, and the guilt and fear in moving forward, as well as the pain and heartbreak involved in finding love again
My only real problem with the story is that I just could not like the character of Sara, whom I know I was supposed to find intoxicating, entrancing and compelling. Instead, she seemed abrasive, uncouth, and combative. While I developed sympathy and felt compassion for what her character symbolized and suffered, I couldn't imagine wanting to know her or hang out with her. Plus, she terrorized Mike. Not cool.
I do not do plot summaries in my reviews, as I believe if you're reading the reviews, you probably have already gotten interested enough in the book to have read the editorial summary and Amazon synopsis. Suffice it to say, this is a book worth reading, and I recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good ghost story.
Just remember: sleep on your side, not your back!
Unfortunately, this book is definitely not his best. It has an odd tone that halfway in I am still trying to find words for. It feels self indulgent, but frankly King has earned the right to a bit of that. This is not interesting, however. The main characters are dull and flat while the secondary characters are just cardboard cutouts simply moved about as window dressing. So far my favorite character is the caretaker - who has only shown up in a handful of places so far. Even the ghost is boring. The main character is a wealthy (but not too wealthy) widowed writer who spends a large part of his time doing crossword puzzles because he can't write and can't figure out anything better to do with himself. The story picks up when he takes a notion to kill some time at his lovely second home on a lake. Meanwhile, King wanders through his take on rich people (really rich people, not wealthy writers), the kinds of people who live in trailers (his own biography plays strongly here), and the like. Usually these are the areas where King excels at building sympathetic characters, but not here.
King's genius - beyond his storytelling - is in the strength of his characters. They are fully fleshed, believable people who find themselves in strange circumstances. These folks are not well developed, believable, and I really don't care about them. (Though an alien invasion would be welcome as the evil rich white man threatening to take his granddaughter thing isn't really very interesting, even with the inclusion of a ghost who plays with magnetic letters.)
When King is hot, one can't wait to see what happens next. I am not sure if I can finish this book at this point, though I keep hoping that things will pick up. The only other King book I couldn't finish (and frankly, I didn't get through a tenth of it) was the truly egregious Cell.
I will continue to be a King reader - he has truly become a great American author - but I wouldn't recommend this particular novel.