by Stephen King


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Master storyteller Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) presents this gripping and remarkable New York Times bestselling crime novel about a damaged young man who embarks on an ill-advised kidnapping plot—a work as taut and riveting as anything he has ever written.

Once upon a time, a fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze 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 this last gripping Bachman novel resurfaced after being hidden away for decades—an unforgettable crime story tinged with sadness and suspense.

Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., was always a small-time delinquent. None too bright either, thanks to the beatings he got as a kid. Then Blaze met George Rackley, a seasoned pro with a hundred cons and one big idea. The kidnapping should go off without a hitch, with George as the brains behind their dangerous scheme. But there's only one problem: by the time the deal goes down, Blaze's partner in crime is dead. Or is he?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501195914
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 08/14/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 74,649
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than sixty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Institute, Elevation, The Outsider, Sleeping Beauties (cowritten with his son Owen King), and the Bill Hodges trilogy: End of Watch, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and an AT&T Audience Network original television series). 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. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures, with It now the highest grossing horror film of all time. He is the recipient of the 2018 PEN America Literary Service Award, the 2014 National Medal of Arts, and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.


Bangor, Maine

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1947

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine


B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

Read an Excerpt


A Novel
By Richard Bachman


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


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.

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Blaze 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clayton Blaisdell is "...soft in the head..." due to being thrown down the stairs three times by his father, and although they were partners in crime, Blaze has had George to look after him in many ways....just as the George in 'Of Mice And Men' looked out for Lennie. Therefore anyone who has read 'Of Mice...' can't fail to be reminded of it when reading this book.
BUT, the George in this story is dead and only lives in Blaze's head which Blaze realises to some extent and which worries him at times. George is the 'bad voice' on Blaze's shoulder...telling him things which might save his skin but that Blaze doesn't always want to do...and Blaze is ultimately a criminal who endears himself to you. You can't help but feel sympathy for a boy who's had the life he has. He's been abused and misunderstood and every time there's a glimmer of something better, had his hopes dashed.
The chapters move back and forth from the present day where Blaze is planning to kidnap a baby for a ransom, to his growing up in care and his friendship with John Cheltzman.
I found the way Blaze cared for Joe quite touching and very believable for this gentle giant who after all is just yearning for something of his own to love and love him back. Whilst I knew it couldn't happen (could it?) I really was rooting for him all the way. Great read, you will not be disappointed.
Not a horror story in Kings normal style...instead he gives us sociological observations on society, encased in a good story. Unlike some reviewers I liked the was moving to know that when Joe cried "It was the wrong face..." that bent over and tried to comfort him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The direction one's life takes is often out of his/her control. A simple twist of fate here and there and it is a completely different outcome, a whole different story. Some lives are just tragic. The story had me feeling for all of the victims.
interpreter1974 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. He made the characters compelling and it became a quick and thrilling read. I found myself being pulled into the story much like "Rose Madder", another favorite of mine. This was a fun and quick book to get through . . . great for a first time King reader or someone who might want to "come back" to King.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Stephen King may be the "master of horror," but with BLAZE he proves that he's also just a plain ole good writer. This story is a mixture of a thriller, a mystery, a police procedural, and a personal struggle to figure out who you are.

Blaze, aka Clayton Blaisdell, Jr., is a dummy, and he knows it. Ever since his father threw him down a flight of stairs (and then hauled him back up and did it a couple of more times), Blaze hasn't had the brains for learning. The dent in his forehead might make him look scary, but we soon learn that Blaze isn't much of a threat -- except when he's really angry. He might look like a giant at 6'7" and nearly 300 pounds, but this man's heart is as soft as his mind.

Blaze has pretty much drifted through life by skirting the law and mostly (with exceptions) avoiding trouble. When he meets George Rackley, Blaze learns the art of the con. The two of them (or, rather, George) have been planning one big job for awhile now. That big job would be kidnapping the baby of a rich couple, collecting the ransom, and living the high-life somewhere with white sandy beaches and lots of sun.

But we soon learn that things aren't going quite the way either man had expected. For one, George is dead, even though he's still helping with the kidnapping plot. For another, Blaze, as we've already learned, isn't the smartest guy around.

What follows is a mixture of present day mystery/thriller as Blaze carries out the kidnapping of little Joey, mixed with the flashbacks of his life that show how Blaze ends up where he's at.

King (aka Bachman..does it really matter the name?) shows great control in the pacing of BLAZE, and expertly weaves the present with the past. You'll also be surprised (and entertained) by the joy that is Blaze, who is a wonderful, fully-developed character.
Anonymous 8 months ago
navyjoe98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read this book because I thought it would be a quick easy read. Ended up that I really liked the book a lot! One of the better books that I've read in a while. You really have to feel sorry for Blaze.
Blazingice0608 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very fun, fast paced, thrilling book. An old trunk novel that King decided to revive from his Backman days, very glad that he did. A little too short and predictable, however could not put it down, loved it.
grheault on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in Maine. Written from inside the 'hero's' head, this book was more psychological, sympathetic, and political than a simple thriller. The hero is a 300 pound boy with a dent in his head, a soft heart, moments of deadly violence, and a brutal life story full of cruelty and disappointment. A lost soul. Reminiscent of Russell Banks in telling the story of poor white folk with emphasis on psychological detail. Politcal commentary at the end is fair enough, and leaves you wanting to strengthen safety nets of community, church, social institutions. Very sweet, sad story.
BeckahRah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not scary, only mildly supernatural, and perilously close to being as bad as Cell. Not quite, though. But if the author himself denounced the book as unpublishable 30 years ago, it's really a mark of the author's fading passion for his work and his fans that it suddenly and inexplicably is now fit for public consumption. It wasn't awful, but it's hardly worth the time it takes to read it. At least it's a modest improvement on his last few stillborn literary abominations.
jonwwil on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stephen King's ode to Of Mice and Men, by way of Richard Bachman. I enjoyed this book. It was a quick, easy read with a main character that's likable despite the fact that he's a criminal. The novel details Blaze's kidnapping of a baby as well as the backstory that led him to that point. Turns out he's a good guy who's had some real tough breaks. You get a sense early on that things aren't going to turn out well, and of course they don't, but it comes down to an ending that's probably best for all concerned.
KathyWoodall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took me just a little over a day to read this one. Excellent story. Blaze and his friend George had planned an abuction of a wealthy family infant child. George is dead now and Blaze decides he will go through the planned kidnapping by himself. Main problem with Blaze is he is a few bricks shy of a load. With the help of his "late friend George" Blaze commits what he thinks is the perfect crime. It's not the typical Stephen King novel and if your looking for horror you won't find it here. A very sad ending.
cefeick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
More Bachman than King, this story was a quick read set up like a classic crime thriller. I enjoyed it but it isn't something I'd call life-altering.
daynawinters on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blaze, a 384-page novel by Stephen King, is a must read for every bibliophile. It is inconceivable that this novel became a trunk novel; it should have been dusted off and published years ago. In fact, many readers that take up Blaze will agree that the text should have never been stashed away in the first place. Blaze is truly a remarkable piece of work: one that a reader has come to expect from King. To think that this book remained hidden away for so many years before Stephen King even thought about publishing the text: the notion seems almost criminal.Written when King was using the pseudonym Richard Bachman, Blaze is a fast read, and like everything King creates, the novel draws the reader into the text immediately. The reader will have no difficulty when it comes time to suspend disbelief and enter into the fictive dream state; and if the reader pays close attention, they can see what seems like the early beginnings of some of King¿s novels following the creation of Blaze. Blaze was written before the novel Carrie, the novel that ultimately launched the writer¿s career: a fact revealed in King¿s On Writing. King himself confesses that he has edited the text extensively before publishing it, so the fragments of King¿s work may be inserted as hindsight, or the recognizable elements may be the first seeds of what King would eventually write. Either way, Blaze becomes a work that is easily weaved into the broad and mystifying fictional universe that King has spent his entire career creating.Stephen King sensitizes the reader to the trials and tribulations endured by Clayton Blaisdell Jr., a.k.a Blaze, by humanizing him despite his criminal undertakings. The reader is therefore forced to struggle with his or her moral compass when attempting to identify with Blaze¿s character. Blaze, a not-so-wise small time criminal with a Goliath-sized physique (which far outweighs his mental abilities: big body, little brains), attempts to retire from his criminal career by taking one last big gig: he kidnaps a child with the attempt to get enough ransom money so that he can live out his days in peace. King aptly establishes an illustrative background for Blaze¿s character: the ill-fated and abused childhood, and the struggles of daily existence all make the reader sympathetic for the character. In contrast, Blazes actions contradict the reader¿s induced sympathies ¿ the reader begins to develop an empathic attitude toward the protagonist while simultaneously viewing him with immense disapproval. Despite the fact that the reader can understand how Blaze grows up to become the individual he becomes, the reader cannot bring him or her self to comprehend his illicit activities. King¿s talent for portraying round characters is evident in this novel; Blaze possesses amazing psychological complexities. Blaze is unquestionably a page turning novel; one that keeps the reader thoroughly engaged in the plot. While it is not necessarily written in the usual creep-me-out style that many of King¿s fans welcome and appreciate, Blaze is not a novel that should be passed up. In fact, for those readers that may stray from reading King¿s more terrifying works, Blaze offers such readers an opportunity to enjoy his masterful writing abilities. More tragic than terrifying, more poignant than uncanny, Blaze is a tale that will become permanently etched in the mind of the reader.
glamrockskisuit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved how I was hoping Blaze would get away with Joe but I suppose he couldn't really. I thought the sad thing though was how everyone thought that Blaze was such a horrible person but really he loved Joe so much that he was willing to give his life for him...
drebbles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Clayton Blaisdell, Jr. (Blaze) has never had an easy life. A drunk driver killed his mother when he was three years old. His father was a drunk and when Blaze was in the first grade, his hungover father threw him down the stairs three times in a fit of anger. Although Blaze survived, he suffered brain damage and was made a ward of the state. He was sent to live at Hetton House, which was home to him for much of his youth, although several families did take him in when they needed their crops picked. After leaving Hetton House Blaze drifted along, moving from job to job and pulling various petty crimes. It's not until Blaze meets George Rackley that he starts pulling regular con jobs. George has an idea for a big con - kidnapping the baby of a wealthy family and holding it for ransom - but he dies before they can pull it off. But that doesn't matter to Blaze, he can still "talk" to the dead George and he decides to kidnap the baby himself. Since this was a "trunk" novel by Stephen King (King himself warns readers of this in his introduction), written in 1973 and published under the name Richard Bachman, I wasn't expecting much, especially since I'm not a big fan of the books put out under the Bachman name. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. When King is at his best, he's a great storyteller and "Blaze" is a good example of his storytelling skills. Told in both the present and through the use of flashbacks, I liked the flashbacks best as they helped develop Blaze as a character. King has a knack of creating characters that come alive and readers care about one way or the other and Blaze does come alive for better and worse. He is at times a sympathetic character, especially in the way he has been treated, used and abused throughout his life and at other times a very brutal character who kills several people. You know from the beginning that the book can't end well, but King still has readers turning the pages both to learn more about Blaze's past as well as what is happening in the present. The book is not perfect, King goes a little overboard in creating Blaze's miserable childhood and a plot line involving a family called Bluenote was a bit too convenient and melodramatic. Although Blaze is a fully developed character, the others aren't as full developed, with only Blaze's childhood friend John Cheltzman coming close. King may have done this on purpose as the book is from Blaze's viewpoint. However, I would have liked to know more about George, he was an interesting character, but there wasn't enough about him, even in the flashbacks. Fans of Stephen King, especially those that like to collect everything he writes, will enjoy "Blaze".
lalaland on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I couldn't even finish this book...definitely not the tone of voice used by King (though that's not a bad thing). The protagonist seems to "dumb."
1000reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had given up on reading a Stephen King novel because most of his later novels read like a parody of his earlier work, pre The Stand. I soon discovered that this was part of King's earlier work and I'm glad I gave it a try. I loved this book. The lean, spare writing was classic King. The characters and especially the lead character captured my imagination from the beginning and I soon felt so much sadness at the helplessness of Blaze's circumstances. Where it eventually led was tragic, but I still am glad I got to know this character and was allowed to know him without King's later excesses in narrative and prose. I highly recommend it to King fans and to those discovering King for the first time.
shellsie88 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Yes this is a "trunk" novel, fast paced, but absolutely intriguing. Blaze (Clayton Blaisdell, Jr.) was physically abused by his father and later on maltreated at the orphanage. He displays some symptoms of schizophrenia and well I couldn't help but to feel sympathy towards this character. It is a picturesque and bittersweet ending.
delaney.h4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Blaze is a dummy, as George would say. Bu George is dead, or is he? As he lurks in the shadows and deepest parts of Blaze's mind, he helps Blaze pull of the crime of the century, but when things go wrong George disappears. But Blaze is to far into the crime to stop now, plus what's he s'posed to say? He pulled off the kidnapping of the richest family in the area with a dead man! So now, in the cold Manhattan woods Blaze runs, with baby Joey in his arms, the police on his tail, and a one million dollar ransom. Review: A really good book. Kind of feel sorry for Blaze, content.
TinyDancer11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Obviousy not one of Stephen King's best...but still entertaining. Depressing at times, frustrating at others. It drags on a bit and I don't particulary care to reread it like most of King's, but enjoyable nonetheless!
paghababian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very different Bachman book. This is more of a look at the life of Clayton ¿Blaze¿ Blaisdell Jr. than a compelling story. It feels much like Of Mice and Men, as Stephen King describes in the forward. Blaze is a tragic and sympathetic character who swings back and forth between trying to do what is right for himself and trying to do what is right for others. He¿s the kind of character that sticks with you.The forward by Stephen King also talks about his process of writing as Bachman ¿ why he used the pen name and how the Bachman books were different from his other stories. Worth a read for any King fan.
maquisleader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the hell out of this book, tho the ending made me sad. There's also a short story included which is a prequel to his new book Duma Key.
freddiefreddie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this book, we get a glimpse into King's writing as he developed. George, dead even from the beginning of the book, is actually a more vivid character than Blaze. Yet it's easy to feel for Blaze as he decides to go ahead with the dream heist George cooked up before he died. He doesn't even do it for the money. He does it because, after George is gone, he really doesn't know what else to do.
teampoush on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an absorbing tale. The protagonist, Blaze, is written very well, allowing the reader to both hate him and love him. I wanted him to succeed and to fail. I knew from the start what would happen to Blaze, but until the last page I had to keep fearing and wondering what would happen to the baby. The hints at something supernatural were interesting--I wish they could have been explored a bit more.The short story Memory at the end is intriguing, and I look forward to reading the book it grew into.
heathersblue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It wasn't bad. It wasn't great either. Blaze was an incredibly well developed character that was lovable till the bitter end in spite of the fact he'd kidnapped a child. But what about George? What about George! I loved the idea but it never panned all the way out...