The Bottom Line: What time zone am on? What country am I in? It doesn't matter, it's five o'clock somewhere. ~Jackson/Buffet
First I gotta say I’m beginning to hate Stephen King. My latest read, Duma Key, his 54th novel, comes in at a hefty 609 pages in hardback and I’ve got to tell Stephen these books are getting too heavy for me to hold. Dang boy, give a gal a break. What I did love though was his trip back through fantasy land, welcome back Steve.
He makes his usual references, coyly, to the Tower series, in his own unique style but I think a good deal of this book served as a catharsis for his own healing after his tragic auto vs. human accident in 1999. I do know he spent time recovering in Florida and this is where his mind probably started its wild journey to Duma Key. He is a native Floridian and probably knows of quite a few haunts attributed to the area although, in reality, Duma Key is fictional.
From Minnesota to Duma Key: Construction mogul Edgar Freemantle lives a decent life. He came from nothing, starting his business with duct tape and a prayer, to running a mega-million dollar success. He has a loving wife and two beautiful daughters; Melinda who has a successful life in Paris, and Llse, a student at Brown University. Then one day the unthinkable happened. While sitting in his truck at a jobsite a crane, with its’ irritating backup beeper non-functional, backs over his truck, essentially crushing Freemantle inside.
From this point on, Edgar, a shell of himself, turns physically and emotionally violent to people, basically casting them out of his life. His wife of many years leaves then divorces him, fearing for her life. His amputated right arm is sending ghostly waves of pain to his body. He is on the verge of suicide, to ease his pain and that of his family. His psychiatrist, Xander Kamen, sees this all building up and convinces him to wait one year, then he can do what he wants.
So Edgar moves to Florida, to Duma Key, to begin his year long journey to redemption.
He remembers an old desire to draw, doodle if you wish, and takes it up to ease his mind. However, once on Duma the muse takes over and Edgar becomes its slave. There is a saying I learned while attending AA meetings with either my husband or son - “The drunk takes a drink, the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the drunk.” That is what is happening to Edgar as his muse begins to rule his life, and, oddly, control his non-existent right arm … the one that does the paintings.
Edgar befriends the caretaker on the next property, Jerome Wireman … “just call me Wireman” …, and learns his rental house is owned by Elizabeth Eastlake, Wireman’s employer. Soon he learns much more as he and Wireman watch the previously vibrant Elizabeth sink into the abyss of Alzheimers. Even in her delusional state, she has moments of clarity when she divulges some interesting things to Edgar … things that deal with his paintings, her past, and his family.
As Edgar’s work progresses, the madness grows, finally coming to a head when his work is presented at a prestigious art gallery in town.
On King and his presentation: We are finally seeing, as I’ve always believed, that humans are the most vile of creatures even after they have passed on. Not all, of course, but there are those that can conger up some mighty bad mojo. We also see a new, if demented, side of King as he now focuses on his own experiences with near death and the resulting recovery. It has been reported that his 1999 accident has permanently altered his consciousness. That is a frightening thought, to imagine what will spin out of him now.
He took his time in this story, almost making us feel safe, until he starts throwing in his usual madcap adventures. We were able to flesh out the people involved, giving them a face and identity, before he starts his madness. Do I like this? Hell, yeah. I like learning to love Elizabeth and Wireman, and Edgar’s helper, Jack. We like hearing about his daughters and even understand why his wife divorced him. Edgar is just a normal guy, now living in an abnormal world.
Then, bang, King goes at us full on, dropping us right into the madness that Edgar and his pals are immersed into. Some of the stuff simply isn’t pretty and I got kinda ticked at him over one incident in particular, which, naturally I can’t divulge here.
Of course, being King, it’s gonna go supernatural on you but if you are a constant reader you won’t be surprised. If you are offended that he goes a little dark, a little eerie, a little ‘out of the box’, then you just have to remember that you took this path willingly and even if you have never read him before, somewhere in the back your mind you have to associate Stephen King to madness.
Yes, I loved it, despite its heft, and do recommend it.
One of my favorite Stephen King books. I read it while on a beach vacation and the setting in the book made it perfect and a little creepier. If done properly it would make a superb movie. Recommend to anyone who likes creepy and great writing.
Ahh... what can I say about Duma Key, other than it being an extraordinary experience, a literary breath of fresh air, a masterpiece of color and texture without any actual paint being used. I guess there are some people out there think it's boring or long but I instantaneously felt a bond with the book and I can say that I absolutely loved it! The writing itself was so colorful and interesting that I enjoyed each and every page, there was in no rush to get to the ending by any means, but I did … more
Sometimes I read a long book and wish it were shorter. But reading Stephen King's Duma Key was not one of those times. The story is beautifully plotted and paced, from the slightly off-kilter wonder of the first page--"Pictures are magic, as you know"--to the real-world tragedy of a brain-injured one-armed man, to the fearful, awful revelations around page 600. The heroes in this novel are very real, very wounded people, old enough to know a bit about life, … more
I'm a pretty huge Stephen King fan, dating back to about 1979, when I first read THE SHINING. I've stuck with him through some poor times (THE DARK HALF & NEEDFUL THINGS) and certainly enjoyed the high points. DUMA KEY falls somewhere in the middle of the batch. It has some wonderful writing...aside from the story...King's ability to describe a situation (like an artist's first time gallery -opening) or a feeling (the frustration of learning to live with only one arm) is near its height. The settings … more
The prolific purveyor of terror, Stephen King, semi-successfully turns his finely honed, `I-know-what-scares-you' gaze from the venue of his beloved Maine to the seemingly serene retiree-haven of the Florida Keys in his umpteenth novel entitled, "Duma Key". This tale of horror explores the idea of an imaginative power so forceful that when it flexes its muscle a combination of all-hell-breaking-loose steam and creative juices gone wild collide with the impact of the construction crane that nearly … more
Any New England snowbird can empathize with Edgar Freemantle's instant fascination with the west coast Florida sunset. "As that light skied upward, orange faded to a breathless Maxfield Parrish blue-green that I had never seen before with my own eyes...and yet I had a sense of déjà vu, as if maybe I had seen it, in my dreams." Whether it's the novelty of a sunset over water or being closer to the equator or further west in the time zone, there's no denying … more
When my best friend asked me what makes 'Duma Key' a Stephen King book, I had to think about it. I knew just what she meant: what makes it creepy, scary, where's that touch of the supernatural? I realized that what I had been describing to her didn't sound much like a King novel, and there is reason for that. This isn't an easy novel to read. Edgar Freemantle, our intrepid protagonist, suffers a pretty horrific accident in the early pages, loses his right arm along with mental … more
Renting a house on an eerily undeveloped stretch of the Florida coast after suffering a crippling accident and ending his marriage, construction millionaire Edgar Freemantle obsessively creates works of art that lead him to discover unsettling elements from his landlady's enigmatic family history. Reprint.