Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Stephen King - 'Lisey's Story'

I'm currently reading this book for the second time, after not having read much Stephen King for a while. I went  through a phase a few years back of reading loads of his stuff. I'd read some of his older ones and then got 'Lisey's Story' not long after it came out.

It's slightly different to Stephen King's other books, still with supernatural elements but focusing on the story of a marriage through the eyes of a widow of 2 years. As she begins to clear out her deceased husband's office, finding his work from his days as an author provokes memories of their relationship and of the troubled man that her husband was.

The thing that struck me the most when I first read this book was less the actual story (though it is an enjoyable read) and more how good the writing was, particularly it's consistency. This is something that has disappointed me with previous Stephen King books - a brilliant story that I've been eager to read and find out the ending... and then oh, it's rubbish. For me, some of his endings have never wrapped the story up in a way that I've felt it deserved, and in a way kind of seemed quick and half-hearted, just a way to get the story finished and out of the way.This book ended at what felt the natural place and in a way that felt like this is what the story had been leading to, this is why the other events took place. An explanation for some incidents seemed to lack in some of his previous work.

A lot of his stories have also tended to focus less on one or two particular characters and sometimes more on a town, and the way an event affects different people. Therefore the story would consist of different parts, with a chunk of the story dedicated to a certain character, before switching tactics and focusing on a related but separate group of people ('The Tommyknockers' is a good example that comes to mind of this style). While this does work for the type of story Stephen King is trying to tell with some of his books, it does mean the plot can feel a little drawn out at times. Having one main character who is followed for the length of the book in 'Lisey's Story' helped me engage better with the character and the overall plot, as more empathy is created.

After having read books from different points in Stephen King's career, it is commendable that the quality of his stories has noticeably improved over time: in general his other recent work that I have read has proven to be a better read and I'm looking forward to getting hold of his latest couple when I get chance.

If you're not sure where to start with Stephen King's work, I recommend 'Four Past Midnight' (the first of his that I read consisting of four short stories), 'The Shining' (an obvious classic), 'The Dead Zone', 'The Stand' (very long but worth sticking with) and 'Duma Key'. I've been meaning to try out one of his recent books, 'Under the Dome' next, hopefully worth the wait!

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