February 23, 2014
Book review: Duma Key by Stephen King
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Six months after a crane crushes his pickup truck and his body self-made millionaire Edgar Freemantle launches into a new life. His wife asked for a divorce after he stabbed her with a plastic knife and tried to strangle her one-handed (he lost his arm and for a time his rational brain in the accident). He divides his wealth into four equal parts for his wife, his two daughters, himself and leaves Minnesota for Duma Key, a stunningly beautiful, eerily remote stretch of the Florida coast where he has rented a house. All of the land on Duma Key, and the few houses, are owned by Elizabeth Eastlake, an octogenarian whose tragic and mysterious past unfolds perilously. When Edgar begins to paint, his formidable talent seems to come from someplace outside him, and the paintings, many of them, have a power that cannot be controlled.
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
For my "Read a Chunkster" selection in the Reading Outside the Box challenge, where I have to read a book of at least 600 pages, I thought it appropriate to pick a novel from an author who I consider to be a king (pun intended) of verbosity: Stephen King. It's no secret to readers of this blog that I'm not a big fan of Stephen King's novels, but I wanted to give them another try. I asked King fans which book they considered to be their favorite, and the title most often recommended was Duma Key.
The premise of Duma Key was interesting enough. Edgar Freemantle suffered a construction site accident that took his right arm and affected his mind in such a way that he can paint pictures that exhibit magical powers. If the story focused on this plot line, it could have been a very interesting book. Instead, King lost me in pages and pages of details about Edgar's life that I had no interest in. Therein lies my problem with long books. There's nothing wrong with a long book as long as all of the scenes need to be there, but in this case, I could do without about a third of the book. I don't need to know what Edgar does everyday. Just give me the important points. Some people might call it character development, but I call it boring. Besides, shouldn't a good author be able to develop his main character without resorting to over 600 pages?
While the second half of the novel was better than the first, the last 100 pages dragged on again more than I liked. In the end, Duma Key was a so-so novel that could have been better if it was shorter.