Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Bag of Bones
Stephen King
Scribner Books, 560 pages

Bag of Bones
Stephen King
Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947. He attended the grammar school in Durham, Maine and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.S. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. He met his wife, Tabitha, in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine of Orono, where they both worked as students. Unable to find a teaching job, the couple lived on his earnings as a labourer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines. In the fall of 1971, King began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted his novel Carrie for publication. A few months later, its paperback sale provided him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time.

ISFDB Bibliography
Bag of Bones Website
The Green Mile Website
Stephen King Tribute Site
Stephen King Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Pat Caven

My experience with Mr. King is very limited. I read 'Salem's Lot about twenty years ago, and Eyes Of The Dragon about ten years back. As much as I was keen to read his latest (great cover and killer blurb -- aren't we all suckers for them at heart?), I thought maybe someone with more King "background" might be better to do this review. This may be the only part of it you will agree with.

Bag of Bones is told in the first person. Mike Noonan, our hero, is a top-selling author -- usually falling somewhere between 10 and 15 on the bestsellers list (viz. Mary Higgins Clark). Haunted by the sudden death of his wife 4 years earlier, Mike hasn't been able to write a word to save his life. Living off old manuscripts put aside for just such an eventuality, he decides to break his literary impasse and head to their old summer house in Maine. Called Saras Laugh, after a previous owner (a black singer from the turn of the century who disappeared without a trace), this house is where Mike finished his first novel. It is also where he suffers a dream that haunts him as much as the loss of his wife. But hauntings are the least of his worries, when hard on the heels of his arrival at the old lodge he becomes involved in a horrendous custody battle -- between an attractive young widow, her four-year-old daughter and the evil old software magnate who holds the county in thrall.

Sounds like a good romantic thriller? It sure is. Sounds like Rebecca meets Bill Gates meets Kramer vs Kramer. Well, it's a little of that too. What it has been for me is an introduction into the famed Stephen King mystique. After a year of reading Canadian literary writers, King is like being slapped in the face with a big wet fish. This is a man who loves what he does and knows exactly why he's doing it. No literary pretensions, no pompous navel gazing ad nauseam. Just good plain story-telling. I felt like King and I were walking down those plot lines together. I could almost feel his pleasure when scenes came together and he knew exactly how you, the reader would feel too. This is one accessible, entertaining make-it-look-bang-up-easy writer. Great dialogue, touching characters, heart-stopping action.

And you thought I was going to trash him.

What I will do is complain about the lack of any real plot surprises and the suspense seems remarkably tame for the King of Horror. It was easy to see that he was trying to break free of some kind of pattern (which may be due to my lack of experience here), but failed. There were little glimmerings, though: a dream sequence here, a few other scenes there, that showed a powerful subtlety that wasn't in evidence anywhere else in the book.

Bag of Bones. I would have loved the title to be Ain't Misbehavin'. Throughout the novel, King often refers to the quote that "a writer is a man who teaches his mind to misbehave." Considering Noonan is suffering from serious writer's block and a principal plot line is about black singers and their mistreatment at the hands of the goodly white folk... OK, King is subtler than that. I just wish someone had the guts to really edit this man. They owe it to him, to help him leap off the plateau he's so obviously stranded on -- and they owe it to us, as readers because I don't ever want to know this much mundane detail (nowhere more evident than in the first person POV) about anything -- not even sex.

So what should I start with next? Maybe Insomnia...

Copyright © 1998 Pat Caven

Pat Caven was (and perhaps in some ways still is) a local bookseller. She has now wandered into the public domain.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide