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Bag Of BonesReview - Bag Of Bones
by Stephen King
Audioworks, 2005
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Dec 22nd 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 51)

Bag of Bones is set in Stephen King's home state of rural Maine.† It also features a novelist as its main character, one who manages to get into the list of top fifteen best-selling books, although hardly ever into the top ten, so the resemblance between real author and fictional author can't be perfect.† However, King writes with such assurance and familiarity that it is easy to lapse into the supposition that Noonan is a thinly veiled version of King, or at least that, in describing Noonan's writing and thought habits, he is revealing something of himself.† It is a temptation that makes the book more interesting and slightly self-conscious, especially when King via Noonan writes about the ethics of authorship.†

Noonan is an interesting character for two other reasons unrelated to any potential relationship to King.† First, he is suffering terrible grief about the loss of his wife, and second, consequentially, he has a severe case of writer's block.† He used to write two bestsellers a year, living in domestic bliss, but now he can't bear to look at his typewriter, and he manages to fill up his time doing nothing.† That is until he goes back to his summer home, with the odd name of "Sarah Laughs."† He becomes friends with a beautiful young woman and her daughter, and gets involved in a legal fight over custody of the little girl.† King fills his story with lots of small details of the local life, and in his performance of the audiobook, he does the different accents of the locals and Massachusetts interlopers.† He conveys a strong sense of the traditions, thoughts and prejudices of his characters.† Bag of Bones is a long book, spreading over 20 CDs, taking about 22 hours to read, yet it is a pleasure to listen to, even for those who are not normally fans of Stephen King.†

Some potential readers might be put off by the supernatural theme.† Sarah Laughs is haunted by crying children and fridge-magnet-moving spirits, and only by the end of the book does Noonan discover who they are.† There's no getting around the fact that Bag of Bones is a ghost story, but King manages to make his characters believable and naturalistic enough to avoid the silly spookiness that bedevils the genre.† He leaves many of the details of the spirit-activities vague, showing more interest in Noonan's thoughts about other actual contemporary writers and his thinking about his dead wife.† While the book does not aim to reveal any great insights into mourning or the creative process of writers, it is a story well-told.† King's performance of his own work on the audiobook is lively and engaging.†

 

© 2005 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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