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Lisey's Story

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Now in paperback, from the acclaimed #1 New York Times and undisputed King of Horror Stephen King, comes the story of a writer’s widow who must confront his demons after his death—Lisey’s Story is about the wellsprings of creativity, the temptation of madness, and the secret language of love.

Lisey Debusher Landon lost her husband Scott two years ago, after a twenty-five year marriage of the most profound and sometimes frightening intimacy. Lisey knew there was a place Scott ...

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Overview

Now in paperback, from the acclaimed #1 New York Times and undisputed King of Horror Stephen King, comes the story of a writer’s widow who must confront his demons after his death—Lisey’s Story is about the wellsprings of creativity, the temptation of madness, and the secret language of love.

Lisey Debusher Landon lost her husband Scott two years ago, after a twenty-five year marriage of the most profound and sometimes frightening intimacy. Lisey knew there was a place Scott went—a place that both terrified and healed him, could eat him alive or give him the ideas he needed in order to live. Now it’s Lisey’s turn to face Scott’s demons, Lisey’s turn to go to that terrifying place known as Boo’ya Moon. What begins as a widow’s effort to sort through the papers of her celebrated husband becomes a nearly fatal journey into the darkness he inhabited.

Perhaps King’s most personal and powerful novel ever, Lisey’s Story is about the wellspings of creativity, the temptations of madness, and the secret language of love.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Usually, the lot of literary widows is pleasant and spirit lifting: accepting posthumous honors; collecting royalties; answering inquiries from hero-worshipping fans. But, for Lisey, the survivor of famous writer Scott Landon, her new role has engulfed her in shades of hell. Requests for her cooperation turn into threats, thus beginning a sequence of escalating warnings that culminates with a slaughtered cat in her mailbox. Lisey's troubles form only an extended preamble to this tale, which is vintage King.
From the Publisher
"DAZZLING. . . . Stephen King at his finest and most generous." — Nicholas Sparks, author of At First Sight and The Notebook

"MOVING. . . . A rich portrait of a marriage and the complicated affection that outlives death." — The Washington Post

"HAUNTING. . . . A tender, intimate book that makes an epic interior journey." — The New York Times

Ron Charles
With Lisey's Story, King has crashed the exclusive party of literary fiction, and he'll be no easier to ignore than Carrie at the prom. His new novel is an audacious meditation on the creative process and a remarkable intersection of the different strains of his talent: the sensitivity of his autobiographical essays, the insight of his critical commentary, the suspense of his short stories and the psychological terror of his novels. (And yes, a few hairy monsters.) They're all evoked here in this moving story about the widow of a famous writer trying to lay her grief to rest.
— The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
Here is a tender, intimate book that makes an epic interior journey without covering much physical terrain. It can move great distances while traveling no further than from a house (home to lonely Lisey Landon, the widow of a Writer á la King) to its neighboring barn (the late writer’s "mostly benign one-boy clubhouse"). The scope sounds modest, yet this book is haunting even by Mr. King’s standards. And he knows a thing or two about haunting.
— The New York Times
Kirkus Reviews
The widow of a bestselling novelist reveals that the wellspring for his ideas is a very dark place, indeed. First and last, this is a powerful love story-and love causes people to do strange and remarkable things. It has been two years since legendary novelist Scott Landon died. His widow, Lisey, has finally summoned the strength to begin clearing and cataloguing his workspace. It is a significant metaphor that Scott and Lisey never had children. Instead, their coupling allowed him to produce numerous novels that thrilled readers. His bestselling works are filled with raw emotion. Academic vultures circle the widow, desperate for access to Scott's massive archive of unpublished works, notes and secrets. And some of those secrets are worth killing for. Only Lisey knows the source of Scott's magic, the place where imagination runs wild, the place called Boo'Ya Moon. Scott and Lisey shared a life full of passion, but his death has left a void in her life. She is adrift, confused and stalked by supernatural forces. Incunks prowl, while Lisey chases bools and ducks blood-bools. Sometimes it is unclear where her reality stops and her imagination takes over. Battling against Scott's legacy, Lisey also comes face to face with her own demons at the edge of Boo'Ya Moon. King is surprisingly introspective and mature here. He showcases the agony and the ecstasy of the writing process. Where Misery (1987) looked at the relationship between writer and fan, this time it is that of the writer and his one true love. There seems to be much of King in the character of Scott (although Scott is both a Pulitzer- and National Book Award-winner). Pain and suffering are Scott'sliterary trademarks. The Buddha taught that the end of suffering is supreme happiness. When King finally reveals Lisey's fate, we all reach the same destination in Boo'Ya Moon. One of King's finest works.
The New Yorker
In his intricate new novel, King explores two hidden worlds—the private life of a recently deceased best-selling writer, as seen from the perspective of his widow, and the imaginative landscape that formed the foundation of his work. As the novel opens, Lisey, Scott Landon’s widow, is a sardonic observer of toadying academics, dangerously obsessive fans, and fame-struck bystanders. As she sorts through papers that Landon has left behind, she also becomes a traveller in a fantastical parallel world called Boo’ya Moon, to which he retreated during a horrific childhood and on which he drew throughout his creative life. It takes some time for these narrative strands to converge, but when they do Lisey moves between worlds at an exhilarating pace. Along the way, King also reveals, with subtle precision, the profound strangeness of widowhood, when someone who was present for so much of a shared life is gone.
Publishers Weekly

King's latest bid for literary respectability is read by acclaimed actress Winningham, best known for her Oscar-nominated performance in Georgia. Winningham glazes King's novel in multiple coats of Southern honey, her voice shimmering with an old-fashioned glow for the tale of Lisey Landon, wife of acclaimed novelist Scott Landon, and her effort to discover the source of her husband's inspiration after his death. Winningham is a good fit for King in a less terror-filled mood, capturing the book's blend of the sentimental and the comic. The narrative is ushered in and out by the strains of Ryan Adams's "When the Stars Go Blue," and King reads his own afterword, where he details the sources of his own inspiration, carefully distancing himself and his loved ones from the characters in his book while making it clear that, like Scott Landon, he must dive deep into his subconscious and into the pool of literary history, to find inspiration. Simultaneous release with the Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 28). (Nov.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
Following King's triumphant return to the world of gory horror in Cell, the bestselling author proves he's still the master of supernatural suspense in this minimally bloody but disturbing and sorrowful love story set in rural Maine. Lisey's husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Scott Landon, has been dead for two years at the book's start, but his presence is felt on every page. Lisey hears him so often in her head that when her catatonic sister, Amanda, begins speaking to her with Scott's voice, she finds it not so much unbelievable as inevitable. Soon she's following a trail of clues that lead her to Scott's horrifying childhood and the eerie world called Boo'ya Moon, all while trying to help Amanda and avoid a murderous stalker. Both a metaphor for coming to terms with grief and a self-referencing parable of the writer's craft, this novel answers the question King posed 25 years ago in his tale "The Reach": yes, the dead do love. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
What legacy, besides $20 million and stacks of memorabilia, can a famous Maine writer of horror tales leave his widow after 25 years of marriage? When Lisey Landon is terrorized by one of her late husband's crazed fans as she tries to cope with her sister's rapidly deteriorating mental state, she finds that her only salvation lies in finally working through the maze of memories she and her husband, Scott, constructed. King, often at his most powerful when exploring grief (e.g., Pet Sematary, Bag of Bones), takes readers on a roller-coaster ride through the artifacts of a marriage that bonded a creative genius to a woman who was able to save him from himself for a quarter of a century. In the end, Lisey's deliverance comes from the lessons she learned during those years, and the peace she makes with her own world is rooted in the strength she gained from the process. There is little doubt that, in its monster-strewn, pop culture-laden way, this is also Stevie's Story. An essential addition to all King collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/06.]-Nancy McNicol, Ora Mason Branch Lib., West Haven, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

King's latest is a love story with supernatural elements. Lisey Landon, who has long been the unassuming woman of strength behind the fame of her novelist husband, Scott, emerges to tell the story of their marriage and her widowhood. She is in the process of finally dealing with Scott's books and papers when she is brought up short by a series of threats from a psychopathic fan, by the mental health crisis of her sister Amanda, and by clues set by her late husband leading her on a posthumous "bool"-hunt. Unfortunately, King's use of fabricated words, which on one level effectively portrays the intimate language of a close marriage and is perhaps only slightly irritating on the printed page, become distractingly so when read out loud. Extraordinarily long pauses in the narration (the listener imagining whole pages left blank in the printed book) are similarly annoying. Still, actress Mare Winningham successfully voices a variety of characters in a wide range of emotional states, and King never fails to tell a story that is well paced and thoroughly engaging. Recommended for most libraries.
—Kristen L. Smith Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
The widow of a bestselling novelist reveals that the wellspring for his ideas is a very dark place, indeed. First and last, this is a powerful love story-and love causes people to do strange and remarkable things. It has been two years since legendary novelist Scott Landon died. His widow, Lisey, has finally summoned the strength to begin clearing and cataloguing his workspace. It is a significant metaphor that Scott and Lisey never had children. Instead, their coupling allowed him to produce numerous novels that thrilled readers. His bestselling works are filled with raw emotion. Academic vultures circle the widow, desperate for access to Scott's massive archive of unpublished works, notes and secrets. And some of those secrets are worth killing for. Only Lisey knows the source of Scott's magic, the place where imagination runs wild, the place called Boo'Ya Moon. Scott and Lisey shared a life full of passion, but his death has left a void in her life. She is adrift, confused and stalked by supernatural forces. Incunks prowl, while Lisey chases bools and ducks blood-bools. Sometimes it is unclear where her reality stops and her imagination takes over. Battling against Scott's legacy, Lisey also comes face to face with her own demons at the edge of Boo'Ya Moon. King is surprisingly introspective and mature here. He showcases the agony and the ecstasy of the writing process. Where Misery <\b>(1987) looked at the relationship between writer and fan, this time it is that of the writer and his one true love. There seems to be much of King in the character of Scott (although Scott is both a Pulitzer- and National Book Award-winner). Pain and suffering are Scott'sliterary trademarks. The Buddha taught that the end of suffering is supreme happiness. When King finally reveals Lisey's fate, we all reach the same destination in Boo'Ya Moon. One of King's finest works.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416523352
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 6/19/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 112,801
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen King

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Mr. Mercedes, Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard Bachman
      Stephen A. King
      Stephen Edwin King
    2. Hometown:
      Bangor, Maine
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 21, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portland, Maine
    1. Education:
      B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

I. Lisey and Amanda

(Everything the Same)

1

To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon. Her husband had won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, but Lisey had given only one interview in her life. This was for the well-known women's magazine that publishes the column "Yes, I'm Married to Him!" She spent roughly half of its five-hundred-word length explaining that her nickname rhymed with "CeeCee." Most of the other half had to do with her recipe for slow-cooked roast beef. Lisey's sister Amanda said that the picture accompanying the interview made Lisey look fat.

None of Lisey's sisters was immune to the pleasures of setting the cat among the pigeons ("stirring up a stink" had been their father's phrase for it), or having a good natter about someone else's dirty laundry, but the only one Lisey had a hard time liking was this same Amanda. Eldest (and oddest) of the onetime Debusher girls of Lisbon Falls, Amanda currently lived alone, in a house which Lisey had provided, a small, weather-tight place not too far from Castle View where Lisey, Darla, and Cantata could keep an eye on her. Lisey had bought it for her seven years ago, five before Scott died. Died Young. Died Before His Time, as the saying was. Lisey still had trouble believing he'd been gone for two years. It seemed both longer and the blink of an eye.

When Lisey finally got around to making a start at cleaning out his office suite, a long and beautifully lit series of rooms that had once been no more than the loft above a country barn, Amanda had shown up on the third day, after Lisey had finished her inventory of all the foreign editions (there were hundreds) but before she could do more than start listing the furniture, with little stars next to the pieces she thought she ought to keep. She waited for Amanda to ask her why she wasn't moving faster, for heaven's sake, but Amanda asked no questions. While Lisey moved from the furniture question to a listless (and day-long) consideration of the cardboard boxes of correspondence stacked in the main closet, Amanda's focus seemed to remain on the impressive stacks and piles of memorabilia which ran the length of the study's south wall. She worked her way back and forth along this snakelike accretion, saying little or nothing but jotting frequently in a little notebook she kept near to hand.

What Lisey didn't say was What are you looking for? Or What are you writing down? As Scott had pointed out on more than one occasion, Lisey had what was surely among the rarest of human talents: she was a business-minder who did not mind too much if you didn't mind yours. As long as you weren't making explosives to throw at someone, that was, and in Amanda's case, explosives were always a possibility. She was the sort of woman who couldn't help prying, the sort of woman who would open her mouth sooner or later.

Her husband had headed south from Rumford, where they had been living ("like a couple of wolverines caught in a drainpipe," Scott said after an afternoon visit he vowed never to repeat) in 1985. Her one child, named Intermezzo and called Metzie for short, had gone north to Canada (with a long-haul trucker for a beau) in 1989. "One flew north, one flew south, one couldn't shut her everlasting mouth." That had been their father's rhyme when they were kids, and the one of Dandy Dave Debusher's girls who could never shut her everlasting mouth was surely Manda, dumped first by her husband and then by her own daughter.

Hard to like as Amanda sometimes was, Lisey hadn't wanted her down there in Rumford on her own; didn't trust her on her own, if it came to that, and although they'd never said so aloud, Lisey was sure Darla and Cantata felt the same. So she'd had a talk with Scott, and found the little Cape Cod, which could be had for ninety-seven thousand dollars, cash on the nail. Amanda had moved up within easy checking range soon after.

Now Scott was dead and Lisey had finally gotten around to the business of cleaning out his writing quarters. Halfway through the fourth day, the foreign editions were boxed up, the correspondence was marked and in some sort of order, and she had a good idea of what furniture was going and what was staying. So why did it feel that she had done so

little? She'd known from the outset that this was a job which couldn't be hurried. Never mind all the importuning letters and phone calls she'd gotten since Scott's death (and more than a few visits, too). She supposed that in the end, the people who were interested in Scott's unpublished writing would get what they wanted, but not until she was ready to give it to them. They hadn't been clear on that at first; they weren't down with it, as the saying was. Now she thought most of them were.

There were lots of words for the stuff Scott had left behind. The only one she completely understood was memorabilia, but there was another one, a funny one, that sounded like incuncabilla. That was what the impatient people wanted, the wheedlers, and the angry ones — Scott's incuncabilla. Lisey began to think of them as Incunks.

2

What she felt most of all, especially after Amanda showed up, was discouraged, as if she'd either underestimated the task itself or overestimated (wildly) her ability to see it through to its inevitable conclusion — the saved furniture stored in the barn below, the rugs rolled up and taped shut, the yellow Ryder van in the driveway, throwing its shadow on the board fence between her yard and the Galloways' next door.

Oh, and don't forget the sad heart of this place, the three desktop computers (there had been four, but the one in the memory nook was now gone, thanks to Lisey herself). Each was newer and lighter than the last, but even the newest was a big desktop model and all of them still worked. They were password-protected, too, and she didn't know what the passwords were. She'd never asked, and had no idea what kind of electro-litter might be sleeping on the computers' hard drives. Grocery lists? Poems? Erotica? She was sure he'd been connected to the internet, but had no idea where he visited when he was there. Amazon? Drudge? Hank Williams Lives? Madam Cruella's Golden Showers & Tower of Power? She tended to think not anything like that last, to think she would have seen the bills (or at least divots in the monthly house-money account), except of course that was really bullshit. If Scott had wanted to hide a thousand a month from her, he could have done so. And the passwords? The joke was, he might have told her. She forgot stuff like that, that was all. She reminded herself to try her own name. Maybe after Amanda had taken herself home for the day. Which didn't look like happening anytime soon.

Lisey sat back and blew hair off her forehead. I won't get to the manuscripts until July, at this rate, she thought. The Incunks would go nuts if they saw the way I'm crawling along. Especially that last one.

The last one — five months ago, this had been — had managed not to blow up, had managed to keep a very civil tongue about him until she'd begun to think he might be different. Lisey told him that Scott's writing suite had been sitting empty for almost a year and a half at that time, but she'd almost mustered the energy and resolve to go up there and start the work of cleaning the rooms and setting the place to rights.

Her visitor's name had been Professor Joseph Woodbody, of the University of Pittsburgh English Department. Pitt was Scott's alma mater, and Woodbody's Scott Landon and the American Myth lecture class was extremely popular and extremely large. He also had four graduate students doing Scott Landon theses this year, and so it was probably inevitable that the Incunk warrior should come to the fore when Lisey spoke in such vague terms as sooner rather than later and almost certainly sometime this summer. But it wasn't until she assured him that she would give him a call "when the dust settles" that Woodbody really began to give way.

He said the fact that she had shared a great American writer's bed did not qualify her to serve as his literary executor. That, he said, was a job for an expert, and he understood that Mrs. Landon had no college degree at all. He reminded her of the time already gone since Scott Landon's death, and of the rumors that continued to grow. Supposedly there were piles of unpublished Landon fiction — short stories, even novels. Could she not let him into the study for even a little while? Let him prospect a bit in the file cabinets and desk drawers, if only to set the most outrageous rumors to rest? She could stay with him the whole time, of course — that went without saying.

"No," she'd said, showing Professor Woodbody to the door. "I'm not ready just yet." Overlooking the man's lower blows — trying to, at least — because he was obviously as crazy as the rest of them. He'd just hidden it better, and for a little longer. "And when I am, I'll want to look at everything, not just the manuscripts."

"But — "

She had nodded seriously to him. "Everything the same."

"I don't understand what you mean by that."

Of course he didn't. It had been a part of her marriage's inner language. How many times had Scott come breezing in, calling "Hey, Lisey, I'm home — everything the same?" Meaning is everything all right, is everything cool. But like most phrases of power (Scott had explained this once to her, but Lisey had already known it), it had an inside meaning. A man like Woodbody could never grasp the inside meaning of everything the same. Lisey could explain it all day and he still wouldn't get it. Why? Because he was an Incunk, and when it came to Scott Landon only one thing interested the Incunks.

"It doesn't matter," was what she'd said to Professor Woodbody on that day five months ago. "Scott would have understood."

3

If Amanda had asked Lisey where Scott's "memory nook" things had been stored — the awards and plaques, stuff like that — Lisey would have lied (a thing she did tolerably well for one who did it seldom) and said "a U-Store-It in Mechanic Falls." Amanda did not ask, however. She just paged ever more ostentatiously through her little notebook, surely trying to get her younger sister to broach the subject with the proper question, but Lisey did not ask. She was thinking of how empty this corner was, how empty and uninteresting, with so many of Scott's mementos gone. Either destroyed (like the computer monitor) or too badly scratched and dented to be shown; such an exhibit would raise more questions than it could ever answer.

At last Amanda gave in and opened her notebook. "Look at this," she said. "Just look."

Manda was holding out the first page. Written on the blue lines, crammed in from the little wire loops on the left to the edge of the sheet on the right (like a coded message from one of those street-crazies you're always running into in New York because there's not enough money for the publicly funded mental institutions anymore, Lisey thought wearily), were numbers. Most had been circled. A very few had been enclosed in squares. Manda turned the page and now here were two pages filled with more of the same. On the following page, the numbers stopped halfway down. The final one appeared to be 846.

Amanda gave her the sidelong, red-cheeked, and somehow hilarious expression of hauteur that had meant, when she was twelve and little Lisey only two, that Manda had gone and Taken Something On Herself; tears for someone would follow. Amanda herself, more often than not. Lisey found herself waiting with some interest (and a touch of dread) to see what that expression might mean this time. Amanda had been acting nutty ever since turning up. Maybe it was just the sullen, sultry weather. More likely it had to do with the sudden absence of her longtime boyfriend. If Manda was headed for another spell of stormy emotional weather because Charlie Corriveau had jilted her, then Lisey supposed she had better buckle up herself. She had never liked or trusted Corriveau, banker or not. How could you trust a man after overhearing, at the spring library bake sale, that the guys down at The Mellow Tiger called him Shootin' Beans? What kind of nickname was that for a banker? What did it even mean? And surely he had to know that Manda had had mental problems in the past —

"Lisey?" Amanda asked. Her brow was deeply furrowed.

"I'm sorry," Lisey said, "I just kind of...went off there for a second."

"You often do," Amanda said. "I think you got it from Scott. Pay attention, Lisey. I made a little number on each of his magazines and journals and scholarly things. The ones piled over there against the wall."

Lisey nodded as if she understood where this was going.

"I made the numbers in pencil, just light," Amanda went on. "Always when your back was turned or you were somewhere else, because I thought if you saw, you might have told me to stop."

"I wouldn't've." She took the little notebook, which was limp with its owner's sweat. "Eight hundred and forty-six! That many!" And she knew the publications running along the wall weren't the sort she herself might read and have in the house, ones like O and Good Housekeeping and Ms., but rather Little Sewanee Review and Glimmer Train and Open City and things with incomprehensible names like Piskya.

"Quite a few more than that," Amanda said, and cocked a thumb at the piles of books and journals. When Lisey really looked at them, she saw that her sister was right. Many more than eight hundred and forty-some. Had to be. "Almost three thousand in all, and where you'll put them or who'd want them I'm sure I can't say. No, eight hundred and forty-six is just the number that have pictures of you."

This was so awkwardly stated that Lisey at first didn't understand it. When she did, she was delighted. The idea that there might be such an unexpected photo-resource — such a hidden record of her time with Scott — had never crossed her mind. But when she thought about it, it made perfect sense. They had been married over twenty-five years at the time of his death, and Scott had been an inveterate, restless traveler during those years, reading, lecturing, crisscrossing the country with hardly a pause when he was between books, visiting as many as ninety campuses a year and never losing a beat in his seemingly endless stream of short stories. And on most of those rambles she was with him. In how many motels had she taken the little Swedish steamer to one of his suits while the TV muttered talk-show psalms on her side of the room and on his the portable typewriter clacked (early in the marriage) or the laptop clicked quietly (late) as he sat looking down at it with a comma of hair falling on his brow?

Manda was looking at her sourly, clearly not liking her reaction so far. "The ones that are circled — over six hundred of them — are ones where you've been treated discourteously in the photo caption."

"Is that so?" Lisey was mystified.

"I'll show you." Amanda studied the notebook, went over to the slumbering, wall-length stack, consulted again, and selected two items. One was an expensive-looking hardcover biannual from the University of Kentucky at Bowling Green. The other, a digest-sized magazine that looked like a student effort, was called Push-Pelt: one of those names designed by English majors to be charming and mean absolutely nothing.

"Open them, open them!" Amanda commanded, and as she shoved them into her hands, Lisey smelled the wild and acrid bouquet of her sister's sweat. "The pages are marked with little scrids of paper, see?"

Scrids. Their mother's word for scraps. Lisey opened the biannual first, turning to the marked page. The picture of her and Scott in that one was very good, very smoothly printed. Scott was approaching a podium while she stood behind him, clapping. The audience stood below, also clapping. The picture of them in Push-Pelt was nowhere near as smooth; the dots in the dot-matrix looked as big as the points of pencils with mooshed leads and there were hunks of wood floating in the pulp paper, but she looked at it and felt like crying. Scott was entering some dark cellarful of noise. There was a big old Scott grin on his face that said oh yeah, this be the place. She was a step or two behind him, her own smile visible in the back-kick of what must have been a mighty flash. She could even make out the blouse she was wearing, that blue Anne Klein with the funny single red stripe down the left side. What she had on below was lost in shadow, and she couldn't remember this particular evening at all, but she knew it had been jeans. When she went out late, she always put on a pair of faded jeans. The caption read: Living Legend Scott Landon (Accompanied By Gal Pal) Makes An Appearance At The University Of Vermont Stalag 17 Club Last Month. Landon Stayed Until Last Call, Reading, Dancing, Partying. Man Knows How To Get Down.

Yes. Man had known how to get down. She could testify.

She looked at all the other periodicals, was suddenly overwhelmed by the riches she might find in them, and realized Amanda had hurt her after all, had gored her a wound that might bleed a long time. Was he the only one who had known about the dark places? The dirty dark ones where you were so alone and wretchedly voiceless? Maybe she didn't know all that he had, but she knew enough. Certainly she knew he had been haunted, and would never look into a mirror — any reflective surface, if he could help it — after the sun went down. And she had loved him in spite of all that. Because the man had known how to get down.

But no more. Now the man was down. The man had passed on, as the saying was; her life had moved on to a new phase, a solo phase, and it was too late to turn back now.

The phrase gave her a shudder and made her think of things

(the purple, the thing with the piebald side)

best not thought of, and so she turned her mind away from them.

"I'm glad you found these pictures," she told Amanda warmly. "You're a pretty good big sister, you know it?"

And, as Lisey had hoped (but not really dared expect), Manda was startled right out of her haughty, skittish little dance. She looked uncertainly at Lisey, seeming to hunt for insincerity and finding none. Little by little, she relaxed into a biddable, easier-to-cope-with Amanda. She took back the notebook and looked at it with a frown, as if not entirely sure where it had come from. Lisey thought, considering the obsessive nature of the numbers, that this might be a big step in a good direction.

Then Manda nodded as people do when they recall something that should not have been lost to mind in the first place. "In the ones not circled, you're at least named — Lisa Landon, an actual person. Last of all, but hardly least — considering what we've always called you, that's almost a pun, isn't it? — you'll see that a few of the numbers have squares around them. Those are pictures of you alone!" She gave Lisey an impressive, almost forbidding look. "You'll want to have a look at them."

"I'm sure." Trying to sound thrilled out of her underpants when she was unable to think why she'd have any slightest interest in pictures of herself alone during those all-too-brief years when she'd had a man — a good man, a non-Incunk who knew how to strap it on — with whom to share her days and nights. She raised her eyes to the untidy heaps and foothills of periodicals, which came in every size and shape, imagining what it would be like to go through them stack by stack and one by one, sitting cross-legged on the floor of the memory nook (where else), hunting out those images of her and Scott. And in the ones that had made Amanda so angry she would always find herself walking a little behind him, looking up at him. If others were applauding, she would be applauding, too. Her face would be smooth, giving away little, showing nothing but polite attention. Her face said He does not bore me. Her face said He does not exalt me. Her face said I do not set myself on fire for him, nor he for me (the lie, the lie, the lie). Her face said Everything the same.

Amanda hated these pictures. She looked and saw her sister playing salt for the sirloin, setting for the stone. She saw her sister sometimes identified as Mrs. Landon, sometimes as Mrs. Scott Landon, and sometimes — oh, this was bitter — not identified at all. Demoted all the way to Gal Pal. To Amanda it must seem like a kind of murder.

"Mandy-oh?"

Amanda looked at her. The light was cruel, and Lisey remembered with a real and total sense of shock that Manda would be sixty in the fall. Sixty! In that moment Lisey found herself thinking about the thing that had haunted her husband on so many sleepless nights — the thing the Woodbodys of the world would never know about, not if she had her way. Something with an endless mottled side, something seen best by cancer patients looking into tumblers from which all the painkiller had been emptied; there will be no more until morning.

It's very close, honey. I can't see it, but I hear it taking its meal.

Shut up, Scott, I don't know what you're talking about.

"Lisey?" Amanda asked. "Did you say something?"

"Just muttering under my breath." She tried to smile.

"Were you talking to Scott?"

Lisey gave up trying to smile. "Yes, I guess I was. Sometimes I still do. Crazy, huh?"

"I don't think so. Not if it works. I think crazy is what doesn't work. And I ought to know. I've had some experience. Right?"

"Manda — "

But Amanda had turned to look at the heaps of journals and annuals and student magazines. When she returned her gaze to Lisey, she was smiling uncertainly. "Did I do right, Lisey? I only wanted to do my part..."

Lisey took one of Amanda's hands and squeezed it lightly. "You did. What do you say we get out of here? I'll flip you for the first shower."

4

I was lost in the dark and you found me. I was hot — so hot — and you gave me ice.

Scott's voice.

Lisey opened her eyes, thinking she had drifted away from some daytime task or moment and had had a brief but amazingly detailed dream in which Scott was dead and she was engaged in the Herculean job of cleaning out his writing stables. With them open she immediately understood that Scott indeed was dead; she was asleep in her own bed after delivering Manda home, and this was her dream.

She seemed to be floating in moonlight. She could smell exotic flowers. A fine-grained summer wind combed her hair back from her temples, the kind of wind that blows long after midnight in some secret place far from home. Yet it was home, had to be home, because ahead of her was the barn which housed Scott's writing suite, object of so much Incunk interest. And now, thanks to Amanda, she knew it held all those pictures of her and her late husband. All that buried treasure, that emotional loot.

It might be better not to look at those pictures, the wind whispered in her ears.

Oh, of that she had no doubt. But she would look. Was helpless not to, now that she knew they were there.

She was delighted to see she was floating on a vast, moon-gilded piece of cloth with the words PILLSBURY'S BEST FLOUR printed across it again and again; the corners had been knotted like hankies. She was charmed by the whimsy of it; it was like floating on a cloud.

Scott. She tried to say his name aloud and could not. The dream wouldn't let her. The driveway leading to the barn was gone, she saw. So was the yard between it and the house. Where they had been was a vast field of purple flowers, dreaming in haunted moonlight. Scott, I loved you, I saved you, I

5

Then she was awake and could hear herself in the dark, saying it over and over like a mantra: "I loved you, I saved you, I got you ice. I loved you, I saved you, I got you ice. I loved you, I saved you, I got you ice."

She lay there a long time, remembering a hot August day in Nashville and thinking — not for the first time — that being single after being double so long was strange shite, indeed. She would have thought two years was enough time for the strangeness to rub off, but it wasn't; time apparently did nothing but blunt grief's sharpest edge so that it hacked rather than sliced. Because everything was not the same. Not outside, not inside, not for her. Lying in the bed that had once held two, Lisey thought alone never felt more lonely than when you woke up and discovered you still had the house to yourself. That you and the mice in the walls were the only ones still breathing.

Copyright © 2006 by Stephen King

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 258 )
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(108)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 258 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I believe this is one of Stephen King's best

    This book definitely starts out slow, but other than The Talisman and Dolores Claiborne no other King book has grabbed me and held me so captivated. It was almost like he combined the best of both worlds in this one. I felt a great connection to the characters and couldn't wait to keep reading it. It left me wanting more, which King is really good at anyway, but with this book I felt Lisey's pain and her love so deeply I would love it if he wrote another with her as the main character. I am so shocked by the negative feedback. For a man to create such a wonderful female cast of characters - not just Lisey but her sisters. I think he did it brilliantly. Great Job Mr. King!!!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Why such negative reviews?

    I was browsing around in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble and I was surprised to see a Stephen King novel on the shelves. I thought the cover was really pretty and from what the jacket said...it looked interesting. I go home and look up Lisey's Story and see all these awful reviews saying it's SKing's worst novel. I am no fan of King but from what i've read i've really enjoyed. I read the book and finished it in 3 days, the beginning is pretty slow (like most King books) but slowly picks up the pace. When I finished I was shocked, I thought the book was excellent. These have to be some of the best characters he's ever written. Scott is so unstable and complex and Lisey is simpler to balance out the relationship. Maybe some hardcore fans were expecting something terrifying, if that's what your looking for then do not but this book. Stephen King is has definitely changed a lot from his early days, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing is it, Lisey's Story really does prove that. If your a patient reader and want a rewarding read go spend the 5 bucks on this great book.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2006

    An Amazing Read

    I have read most of King's works and really love much of them. I enjoy the stories and also the style in which he writes them. To me, Lisey's Story is one of his best works to date. It disturbed me quite a bit, made me laugh and also made me tear up. I'm still not even sure I understand the story completely. But I have never before read a book that delves so deeply into the intimacies of a relationship between a couple, and intertwined this relationship around an amazing story Wow! Mr. King, you're the man! Write on!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2006

    Return of The King

    2006 has been a great year for masters of the supernatural horror genre, but until now the master of them all hasn't put in a worthwhile appearance. Well that's all changed and how! After a mildly disappointing recent effort by his own standards with this years earlier novel 'The Cell' King was being overshadowed by the likes of Scott Smith, James Herbert, Cormac McCarthy and the anonymous author of The Book With No Name. But now he's back to show everyone who exactly who does it best. Lisey's Story has a great many of the attributes a true fan of SK would associate with his work. There's the character Scott Landon who just happens to be an author for starters! Anyway the story follows Lisey who was the great love of Scott Landon's life before his passing two years before the book begins. Well with Scott six feet under and Lisey all alone and mourning, along comes one of King's truly evil characters in the shape of Jimmy Dooley. Anxious to get his hands on Scott's unpublished works, this man will stop at nothing. King has brought wonderful dialogue, tension, suspense and all of the trademarks from his best work to the table in Lisey's Story. Essentially a fairly uncomplex storyline, the book's strength lies as always in the immense investment the author puts into his characters. Lisey's sister Amanda talking to her in the voice of her dead husband is a delightful intricacy for example. Every single one of the characters (no matter how minor they may seem at first) is multi-layered. Every line of dialogue is carefully fashioned, and every narrative paints a picture the reader can't fail to visualise in their minds eye. There have been many of Stephen King's books of late that have been referred to as a return to form. Personally I don't think he ever really lost it. If every book is a return to form then surely the form was never lost in the first place? The competition might be getting stronger, but no one is quite ready to knock the master from his rightful place atop the mountain of horror and suspense. At 528 pages there is enough here to keep a reader occupied and enthralled for a fair few hours, days or weeks depending on whether you want to rush it or savour it. One thing's for sure though. No matter how long it takes to read, it's worth every penny.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    Moving, Terrifying, Inspiring, and Mesmerizing!

    Stephen King's Novel, Lisey's Story, is his most intimate, gorgeous, enveloping story whose words are deployed as only a master craftsman and artist can practice, whose characters are multidimensional beyond the norm, whose seemingly effortless storytelling show no machinery or showmanship as it transcends defintion of what makes a good story. This story breathes, allows one to daydream within the story, grips you in its moments and situations that King makes so relatable, yet so profoundly magical, both in its storytelling, which is not a "telling" but really an "experiencing" or at least a sharing in the space of the heart. It isn't a horrorfest, though there are moments of terror where the passage of time, as told, is palpable. Yes, heartbreaking as well, and not for the faint of heart when it comes to reading, the story, the pace, and the depths it reaches into. It is said and often quoted of a saint, Francis of Assisi, that a man who works with his hands is a laborer, a man who works with hands and mind is a craftsman, and a man who works with his hands, mind, and heart is an artist. This nove is a work of literary art. It stays with you. A unique and almost unexpected novel that is highly praised fittingly by luminaries as bestselling The Notebook author Nicholas Sparks, Pulitzer Prize author Michael Chabon, and Nora Roberts. Also, King's supremely human humor is very much intact. Not for the average nook reader with short attention spans that like to fed fed stories rather than engaged. I think one has to have the paperback for it to truly make it tangibly their own. If reading by Nook, one can readily access different parts of the story, if only to relive without having to sift through pages and to retrieve character moments. Its flow is superb, mind you. And you'll be thinking about it and few things that make up life as we know it, how reading influences our ideas and imaginations, and this is also early on, so hang on, have a tea,enjoy the journey.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    A fav

    This is one of Kings best as far as I am concerned....i said one...he has a lot....what can i say about this character? A pretty brave woman when confronted by lifes disappiintments...she finds herself widowed....and having to sort back through her life before she can move foeward...

    I read this book in the summer...and much of her story takes place in summer...the descriptives of this book made me feel the temps and smell the smells of summer..

    I am not sure why this book has stuck with me 2 yrs after reading it...i like the character development...and found i needed that early information throughout the book...maybe age wise i identified with the character, Lisey,...someone actually allowed a 50ish woman take a leading role....

    I am not sure if you haven' t lived that long or had a long term relationship if you can get the love/relationship part.....so maybe this book is not for a younger reader...that part of the book is key...

    Its summer...and i find myself wanting to read this book again....strange thing for me that i have not passed this book on to other people...because that is what i do normally...read and let go...but for some reason...i can't let this book go...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    Worst Stephen King Book I've EVER Read

    I've been an avid fan of Stephen King for many years. I bought this book and I was so excited. After starting the book, it just became like a chore. It was boring, and I couldn't get into it no matter how hard I tried. I basically finished it just becase I've never not finished a book. Horrible. Period.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2009

    Lost Interest

    I love Stephen King and have read quite a few of his books. And usually they're very hard to put down once started. But this one....I only finished it out of a sense that I should finish what I start. Otherwise, I lost interest early on, the smuckers usage was very annoying and it didn't hold my interest like so many other books have. Personally, I don't recommend it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2009

    Makes me want to read it again

    I agree with the review below stating the fact that this is not in the norm of S.K. writing style, but it was a good story none the less. It was almost more of a twisted love tale, something original and never thought of before. Lisey¿s Story was slow to get into but soon enough it had me holding onto it tightly around midnight, yet the following evening I didn't even want to pick it up but I had to. I loved this story, it twisted, it scared, and it prodded at your curiosity until the end. For any type of reading, this is the way to go.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    One of my fav Stephen King books

    I'm a poet and i prefer Shakespeare to Edgar Allen Poe but this book is amazing. Stephen King's books are the only horror stories I treasure. I also have his book Insomnia and I'm trying to find Cell. I started calling my girlfriend babyluv when I read this (that was before we broke up).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 22, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A severe miss.

    It amazes me what Stephen King can get away with some times. Make no mistake, King is an amazing writer and has written some of America's best horror novels. Here however, he buries a possible good story under four hundred pages of near indecipherable time/reality jumps with newly created words that do nothing for the reader or story. I was so disappointed by this novel. The usual King creepiness is there only sporadically the general plot was all over the place. Overall, this is just a minor speed bump for King but should be skipped unless you are King fanatic.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    You can't fail with King

    It's hard to put your finger on what makes King so amazing. The stories, sure, but anyone can tell stories. The characters, sure, but anyone can create a character. Writing style, sure, but anyone can write. But it's the combination of these things, and others, which really defines a fantastic novel, and a fantastic novelist. Lisey's Story is definitely a diamond among other novels I've read. Most of King's works fit this description, but Lisey's Story is definitely a step above a number of his other books. It can definitely make you cry, while simultaneously making you terrified to look in a reflective surface (at least until the story is over and you find the way to stay in this world). It's amazing how even the smallest things in a King novel can be the most horrifying thing you might ever think you'll see with your mind, but also how the most insignificant words can make you wish that such things were said to you. For anyone who is thinking about reading a Stephen King novel, start here. You won't regret it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great winding tale from Stephen King

    I've been a Stephen King fan for many years and enjoy his more non-straightforward-horror-yarns more than the traditional monster and beastie tales. (Although I enjoy those, as well) I enjoyed the psychological character development of this book, although, it was a bit slow to start. Once I got into the rhythm of the back and forth mental storyline, the story itself took off. It wouldn't be a Stephen King story without SOME kind of supernatural element, however, and once that was revealed, the book really flew along. I would recommend this book to any Stephen King fan.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2008

    Stephen King does it again.

    I found this book to be a little "softer" than the typical King books, but a good read nonetheless.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Jennifer Wardrip - Personal Read

    So many others have given an outline of Stephen King's newest release, but I just wanted to leave a few comments. <BR/><BR/>This isn't a typical King book. I'm not saying it's bad, just different. It also takes awhile to get into the action, but once there the story is quite satisfying. As many have said, this is as much (if not more) a love story than a horror novel. The similarities between King's fictional characters and real life are remarkable (I'm guessing he planned it that way.) Overall, this is a book for the ultimate King fan. <BR/><BR/>If you've never read Stephen King, though, I wouldn't recommend LISEY'S STORY as a place to start, since it's so divergent from what he normally writes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2008

    'Love, babylove this book'

    This was a very Un-king book. It eases you into the weirdness so slowly that you don't even feel the supernatural in the plot until the charecter herself comes to grips with it. Touching, emotionally relevnt work. By anyonther autheor this would be up for literary awards, but there is still an anti king bias in some circles

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2008

    unique and beautiful

    I absolutely enjoyed this book. I think many who gave low ratings read the book with the wrong expectations. This is not a horror novel, though it can be horrifying in some parts. This IS a love story, and one of the best I've read. I am a big Stephen King fan, and instantly recognized the difference in writing. I would have loved this story even if it was written by an unknown author, and the fact that it was written by Stephen King simply confirms my belief that he is a literary genius. His use of language in this novel, while somewhat irritating at the fairly slow beginning, completely ties the book together in the end. I have never read a book that was simultaneously beautiful and horrifying, as this one was. He eloquently meshes the most beautiful aspects of love and the world with the most ugly aspects of hate and terror. It's almost hard for me to review this novel properly, because the concepts examined in it are so complex and different, only King was able to present them through this story. You really need to read Lisey's Story, it was a very enjoyable read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2008

    Stephen King's BEST

    Fresh, different and beautifully bizarre! Recommended to those with an imagination who appreciate a creative story and demand a break from the mundane same-old-same-old formulas of many other novels. I don't think King a particularly good writer but this book was strangely touching and very impressive... not to be missed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2008

    A different author

    Something happened on that two lane road in North Lovell on June 19 1999. The author we loved was taken from us and a new guy came out of the ashes. For all intents and purposes he is Stephen King, but he no longer writes like him. This is not surprising, near death experiences have driven people to religion or to climb Mount Everest, so some sort of change was expected. But its like reading a new author for some long time followers. The humor is gone, or muted. The urgency that use to rivet you to his books is gone. There is a new intense focus on the individual and their personal demons and there is heaps of nostalgia. There are moments when the old King tries to creep through in this book, like when Lisey is stalked and finally attacked, or in the introduction of ole Sparky Landon, he is there and is refreshing to see. King always had good imagery in his story telling but now he seems to invite the user to stop and smell the roses in certain scenes. For example Lisey and her sister sit in a car during a thunderstorm and we sit there with them and its described vividly, but why? If you have followed King since 'Firestarter' like I have you'll be left confused as to what just happened and 'what does it all mean?', after turning the last page. Unfortunately if we don't experience a near death experience we won't know what some of this means until we die, and by then it will be too late to tell anyone :)

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2008

    A Better read than I thought it would be.....

    Yes, it took me a while to pick this one up after I bought it. Like 9 months because the reviews say it was a love story but it talks of one and isn't one really except for in the past. But as with SK there is always more to it. I wonder how much his wife helped him with this story because it starts out, in my opinion, as if someone else actually wrote it and starts to sound more like him later. The story sounds like a slow Dean Koontz novel and seems to take some ideas from the movie 'Fraility' I think. The ending is great and twisted. I just hope more come out like the Cell.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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