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Duma Key: A Novel Hardcover – January 22, 2008
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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?
From Publishers Weekly
In bestseller King's well-crafted tale of possession and redemption, Edgar Freemantle, a successful Minnesota contractor, barely survives after the Dodge Ram he's driving collides with a 12-story crane on a job site. While Freemantle suffers the loss of an arm and a fractured skull, among other serious injuries, he makes impressive gains in rehabilitation. Personality changes that include uncontrollable rages, however, hasten the end of his 20-year-plus marriage. On his psychiatrist's advice, Freemantle decides to start anew on a remote island in the Florida Keys. To his astonishment, he becomes consumed with making art—first pencil sketches, then paintings—that soon earns him a devoted following. Freemantle's artwork has the power both to destroy life and to cure ailments, but soon the Lovecraftian menace that haunts Duma Key begins to assert itself and torment those dear to him. The transition from the initial psychological suspense to the supernatural may disappoint some, but even those few who haven't read King (Lisey's Story) should appreciate his ability to create fully realized characters and conjure horrors that are purely manmade. (Jan. 22)
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I bought this book many years ago and, according to my kindle read it, but I don't recall doing so. I am now spending winters very near "Duma Key", or at least where it is written to be, so thought I would read it again. I was amused to find that the main character left Minnesota for the Sarasota area, same as me. It definitely reflected both areas accurately. There was one line, where Edgar remembers putting his daughter's hair in a horsetail, rather than pony tail like we say In Minnesota, but I put that down to Edgar's problem of remembering the correct word.
I am not a big fan of gore or "woo-woo" books. Although this is based on a supernatural topic, it was very interesting and not as improbable as some other author's work.
Highly recommend, although I will never enjoy my time on the north end of Casey Key quite as much.
There’s a hint of Lovecraft in Duma Key, in the telling and the story’s soul. It follows three distinct time frames: the story of a little girl as she’s recovering from a head injury, the story Edgar Freemantle rebuilds his life after a debilitating accident, and the time of the narrator, who also happens to be Edgar. The first two tie together in an intertwining thread that follows Edgar and the little girl’s journey to rediscover themselves, sometimes literally, through art. But both paths move past the mundane application of shape and form into something… else. The time of the narrator foreshadows, sometimes almost too much, what is to come. Of course, this is a Stephen King novel, so any mention of something happening to a character is likely an ill portent to say the least.
Overall, I would say this is a good read and would definitely recommend it. There are definitely scarier stories out there, and more horrifying, but sometimes that’s the point.