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Gerald's Game Paperback – February 16, 2016
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From Publishers Weekly
While this is one of the best-written stories King has ever published, it will offend many through sheer bad taste. Jessie and Gerald Burlingame have been married for 20 years. Kinky sex is Gerald's game; lately he has taken to handcuffing his wife to the bedposts. During one such session, via a series of bizarre circumstances, Jessie accidentally kills her husband, and for the next 28 hours she is trapped. King effectively uses this tragicomic conceit to take us deep into the mind of "Goodwife Burlingame."sic For the first third of the book he is at the top of his form, creating in Jessie one of his most intense character studies. Then, Jessie's ruminations lead her to remember a long-repressed episode of incest that is startling not because it becomes a central element of the plot, but because the details of the sexual relationship between father and daughter are salaciously--and lengthily--described. The gory stuff--how Jessie escapes her handcuffs, for example--is prime King, but this is subsumed in the book's general tastelessness. A lame wrap-up to what might have been a thrilling short story only further compromises the enjoyment readers might have found in this surprisingly exploitative work. 1.5 million first printing; $750,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
From Kirkus Reviews
King takes it over the top, way over the top, in an exquisitely horrifying frightfest about a woman forced to face her deepest fears--and then some. Jessie Burlingame, 39, is getting plenty tired of being handcuffed to the bed of her Maine summerhouse by her attorney- husband, Gerald, so that he can play his silly sex games. So when Gerald refuses to uncuff her, she kicks him in the family jewels, accidentally smashing them to kingdom come--and the terror begins. Each hand cuffed to a bedpost, the keys out of reach, Jessie howls for help--and is answered by a feral dog that proceeds to chow down on Gerald's face in lavishly described, muscle-shredding detail. As the long hours pass, cramps bite like iron jaws into Jessie's own flesh; but they're nothing compared to the thirst raging through her. Can she somehow reach the glass of water on the shelf above her head? It takes the most tightly controlled writing King's ever done to find out, but soon even the thirst pales beside the guilt- gargoyles that Jessie's mind begins to throw up, all pointing at the sun-eclipsed day so long ago when she became much more to Daddy than just his little girl. The minutes tick by, each an agony--and King's just warming up. Night falls: What's that shadow in the corner? The one with the smirking face of Death? And how can Jessie, growing into a heartbreakingly brave heroine, escape? She tugs and tugs at her wrists but can't slip them past the cuffs. Is there a hot, sticky lubricant at hand? He's not really going to describe that, is he? But, with a ferocious gleam in his eye, King does, out-splatterpunking everyone else on the planet in a tour de force that--even given some overindulgent psychologizing, awfully strong echoes of Cujo and Misery, and a long, peculiar anticlimax--is his most wrenching novel to date. This one is really scary. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
*The Avid Reader
Having said that, I wasn't too excited about the end of the book. It's not that I wanted the presence in the home to be a ghost, or some supernatural being of some kind, but there was something (I still can't put my finger on it) that fizzled out for me. Throughout the book, I was waiting for something really horrifying to happen. Waiting for the the visitor to return, and for him/it to do something absolutely horrific. Sure, I want my main character to get away; we all like a happy ending, but when the visitor's identity was revealed, the mystery was gone. There was something far more terrifying about NOT knowing what or who the thing was, as opposed to finding out that it was just some malformed, homicidal creep who liked to steal jewelry and perform sexual acts with corpses. It was just lacking that special something. The last thing that bothered me was the time frame. She was only cuffed to the bed for 24 hours. Now, I know that going without food and water for an entire day sucks. I've done it. But by the way King described her physical state, you'd think she had been stuck there for 2 or 3 days. And when she made her first attempt at getting the water from the table beside the bed, she had only been cuffed for a few hours. Most people aren't near death from dehydration within hours. It kind of detracted form the significance of the main character's situation. Sure, I can get emotionally invested in my character's need for water, and her very creative way of getting to it, when I'm on the edge of my seat, knowing how vital it is that she reach that glass, because it she doesn't, she's going to die...soon. But when it's only been a matter of a few hours, I'm left wondering why she's already so damn weak and dehydrated. Just a little silly.
Never the less, I've read worse from King, and I'd not sway anyone away from this book. It was just okay.