Blaze: A Posthumous Novel

Blaze: A Posthumous Novel

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by Stephen King, Richard Bachman, Ron McLarty
     
 

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The last of the Richard Bachman novels, recently recovered and published for the first time. Stephen King's "dark half" may have saved the best for last.

A fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze in 1973 on an Olivetti typewriter, then turned the machine over to Stephen King, who used it to write Carrie. Bachman died in 1985 ("cancer of the

Overview

The last of the Richard Bachman novels, recently recovered and published for the first time. Stephen King's "dark half" may have saved the best for last.

A fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze in 1973 on an Olivetti typewriter, then turned the machine over to Stephen King, who used it to write Carrie. Bachman died in 1985 ("cancer of the pseudonym"), but in late 2006 King found the original typescript of Blaze among his papers at the University of Maine's Fogler Library ("How did this get here?!"), and decided that with a little revision it ought to be published.

Blaze is the story of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. — of the crimes committed against him and the crimes he commits, including his last, the kidnapping of a baby heir worth millions. Blaze has been a slow thinker since childhood, when his father threw him down the stairs — and then threw him down again. After escaping an abusive institution for boys when he was a teenager, Blaze hooks up with George, a seasoned criminal who thinks he has all the answers. But then George is killed, and Blaze, though haunted by his partner, is on his own.

He becomes one of the most sympathetic criminals in all of literature. This is a crime story of surprising strength and sadness, with a suspenseful current sustained by the classic workings of fate and character — as taut and riveting as Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.

Editorial Reviews

Bill Sheehan
Perhaps because it was written relatively late in his apprenticeship (and perhaps because it's had the benefit of a recent stylistic makeover), Blaze emerges as the best of the Bachman books, a minor but solidly entertaining addition to King's prodigious body of work … Ultimately, Blaze stands on its own and deserves to be judged for what it is: a small, honestly crafted story filled with genuine narrative pleasures, and with the promise of better things to come.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Written circa 1973, this "trunk novel," as Bachman's double (aka Stephen King) refers to it in his self-deprecating foreword, lacks the drama and intensity of Carrie and the horror opuses that followed it. Still, this fifth Bachman book (after 1996's The Regulators) shows King fine-tuning his skill at making memorable characters out of simple salt-of-the-earth types. Clayton "Blaze" Blaisdell has fallen into a life of delinquency ever since his father's brutal abuse rendered him feebleminded. King alternates chapters recounting Blaze's past mistreatment at a series of Maine orphanages and foster homes with Blaze's current plans to follow through on a kidnapping scheme plotted by his recently murdered partner in crime, George Rackley. Blaze talks to George as though he's still there, and the conversations give the tale tension, with Blaze coming across as a pitiable and surprisingly sympathetic contrast to prickly George. Despite its predictability, this diverting soft-boiled crime novel reflects influences ranging from John Steinbeck to James M. Cain. Also included is a previously uncollected story, "Memory," the seed of King's forthcoming novel Duma Key. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743572705
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
01/22/2008
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 5.88(h) x 1.38(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Blaze

A Novel
By Richard Bachman

Scribner

Copyright © 2007 Richard Bachman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416554844

Blaze by Richard Bachman

Foreword by Stephen King

Full Disclosure

Dear Constant Reader,

This is a trunk novel, okay? I want you to know that while you've still got your sales slip and before you drip something like gravy or ice cream on it, and thus make it difficult or impossible to return. It's a revised and updated trunk novel, but that doesn't change the basic fact. The Bachman name is on it because it's the last novel from 1966-1973, which was that gentleman's period of greatest productivity.

During those years I was actually two men. It was Stephen King who wrote (and sold) horror stories to raunchy skin-mags like Cavalier and Adam, but it was Bachman who wrote a series of novels that didn't sell to anybody. These included Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, and The Running Man. All four were published as paperback originals.

Blaze was the last of those early novels...the fifth quarter, if you like. Or just another well-known writer's trunk novel, if you insist. It was written in late 1972 and early 1973. I thought it was great while I was writing it, and crap when I read it over. My recollection is that I never showed it to a single publisher -- not even Doubleday, where I had made a friend named William G.Thompson. Bill was the guy who would later discover John Grisham, and it was Bill who contracted for the book following Blaze, a twisted but fairly entertaining tale of prom-night in central Maine.

I forgot about Blaze for a few years. Then, after the other early Bachmans had been published, I took it out and looked it over. After reading the first twenty pages or so, I decided my first judgment had been correct, and returned it to purdah. I thought the writing was okay, but the story reminded me of something Oscar Wilde once said. He claimed it was impossible to read "The Little Match Girl" without weeping copious tears of laughter. So Blaze was forgotten, but never really lost. It was only stuffed in some corner of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine with the rest of their Stephen King/Richard Bachman stuff.

Blaze ended up spending the next thirty years in the dark. And then I published a slim paperback original called The Colorado Kid with an imprint called Hard Case Crime. This line of books, the brainchild of a very smart and very cool fellow named Charles Ardai, was dedicated to reviving old "noir" and hardboiled paperback crime novels, and publishing new ones. The Kid was decidedly softboiled, but Charles decided to publish it anyway, with one of those great old paperback covers. The whole project was a blast...except for the slow royalty payments.

About a year later, I thought maybe I'd like to go the Hard Case route again, possibly with something that had a harder edge. My thoughts turned to Blaze for the first time in years, but trailing along behind came that damned Oscar Wilde quote about "The Little Match Girl." The Blaze I remembered wasn't hardboiled noir, but a three-handkerchief weepie. Still, I decided it wouldn't hurt to look. If, that was, the book could even be found. I remembered the carton, and I remembered the squarish type-face (my wife Tabitha's old college typewriter, an impossible-to-kill Olivetti portable), but I had no idea what had become of the manuscript that was supposedly inside the carton. For all I knew, it was gone, baby, gone.

It wasn't. Marsha, one of my two valuable assistants, found it in the Fogler Library. She would not trust me with the original manuscript (I, uh, lose things), but she made a Xerox. I must have been using a next-door-to-dead typewriter ribbon when I composed Blaze, because the copy was barely legible, and the notes in the margins were little more than blurs. Still, I sat down with it and began to read, ready to suffer the pangs of embarrassment only one's younger, smart-assier self can provide.

But I thought it was pretty good -- certainly better than Roadwork, which I had, at the time, considered mainstream American fiction. It just wasn't a noir novel. It was, rather, a stab at the sort of naturalism-with-crime that James M. Cain and Horace McCoy practiced in the thirties. I thought the flashbacks were actually better than the front-story. They reminded me of James T. Farrell's Young Lonigan trilogy and the forgotten (but tasty) Gas-House McGinty. Sure, it was the three Ps in places, but it had been written by a young man (I was twenty-five) who was convinced he was WRITING FOR THE AGES.

I thought Blaze could be re-written and published without too much embarrassment, but it was probably wrong for Hard Case Crime. It was, in a sense, not a crime novel at all. I thought it could be a minor tragedy of the underclass, if the re-writing was ruthless. To that end, I adopted the flat, dry tones which the best noir fiction seems to have, even using a type-font called American Typewriter to remind myself of what I was up to. I worked fast, never looking ahead or back, wanting also to capture the headlong drive of those books (I'm thinking more of Jim Thompson and Richard Stark here than I am of Cain, McCoy, or Farrell). I thought I would do my revisions at the end, with a pencil, rather than editing in the computer, as is now fashionable. If the book was going to be a throwback, I wanted to play into that rather than shying away from it. I also determined to strip all the sentiment I could from the writing itself, wanted the finished book to be as stark as an empty house without even a rug on the floor. My mother would have said "I wanted its bare face hanging out." Only the reader will be able to judge if I succeeded.

If it matters to you (it shouldn't -- hopefully you came for a good story, and hopefully you will get one), any royalties or subsidiary income generated by Blaze will go to The Haven Foundation, which was created to help freelance artists who are down on their luck.

One other thing, I guess, while I've got you by the lapel. I tried to keep the Blaze time-frame as vague as possible, so it wouldn't seem too dated. It was impossible to take out all the dated material, however; keeping some of it was important to the plot. If you think of this story's time-frame as "America, Not All That Long Ago," I think you'll be okay.

May I close by circling back to where I started? This is an old novel, but I believe I was wrong in my initial assessment that it was a bad novel. You may disagree...but "The Little Match Girl" it ain't. As always, Constant Reader, I wish you well, I thank you for reading this story, and I hope you enjoy it. I won't say I hope you mist up a little, but --

Yeah. Yeah, I will say that. Just as long as they're not tears of laughter.

Stephen King (for Richard Bachman)

Sarasota, Florida

January 30th, 2007



Continues...


Excerpted from Blaze by Richard Bachman Copyright © 2007 by Richard Bachman. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ron McLarty has appeared on Broadway in That Championship Season, Our Country's Good, and Moonchildren. His film credits include Two Bits, The Postman, and The Flamingo Kid. He has starred on television in Spenser for Hire and Cop Rock. Mr. McLarty is also a novelist and an award-winning playwright.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Bangor, Maine
Date of Birth:
September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:
Portland, Maine
Education:
B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
Website:
http://www.stephenking.com

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Blaze: A Posthumous Novel 0 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 0 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She wears her tight blue cocktail dress and heels with her dark hair in a ponytail
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Om my gersh please continue please do!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for KING FANS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so used to Kings strong character development in most of his books,but I have to say I felt no connection or deep sympathy for Blaze...the development of the story was ok at best and the build up to the ending ad well as the ending itself were lackluster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sam and Brooklynn look for Scarlet. Post
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wakes up and changes into a Juventus soccer jersey covered by a hoodie, black metal combats, and Converse. He walks out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hears from outside. "Ouch!" ( lol )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You could always be friends like Sno." She said, her eyes tearing up. "He would understand what ur going through,.sorta. Ben." She headed to the first res.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
-sighs-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Th cabin is for zeus's children
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well tjis seen quit obvious only a mousebrain wouldent get tjis say blazestar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very nice!!!! Petalstar
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gt crazy all results
Ryst More than 1 year ago
This book was, by far, one of the worst trunk novels I've ever read. And that's pretty bad if you consider the fact that trunk novels are usually terrible. I was reading it, praying for a point - but at the end, I realize there was no point and I had a bad taste in my mouth. The characters, as sketchy as many of them were, had some potential...But they were just written by the wrong man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello. Im am Smoke. I am all grey with little white and black spots all over. My eyes are greenand the tip of my tail is black.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hes taken sorry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here my nook was acten screwy so it took me awhile to see ur post
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You knew lexi?!? My bad f spying but no one else is on.