General Fiction ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, November 1998
Bag of Bones by Stephen KingScribner, September, 1998.
Hardcover, 529 pages.
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Michael Noonan, a successful novelist whose books frequent the bestseller lists, has been overcome with writer's block ever since the tragic loss of his wife, Jo, in an accident four years ago. The doctors could not adequately explain the death, and blamed it on a brain aneurysm. Michael is also suffering from vivid dreams in which he suffers from "writer's walk" where he is unable to approach Sarah Laughs, a cottage he owns and a place he and his wife used to frequent in the summer months. In his dreams he is terrified of the cottage, and he comes to realize that the only way to stop the nightmares and the crippling writer's block is to address his fears directly by visiting Sarah Laughs. Luckily, during his three years of writers block he has been able to use the "nuts" he has stored during his writing career -- previous novels he wrote and safely tucked away in a safety deposit box in case of an emergency. The author finds that Sarah Laughs is haunted by something or someone. He also finds that his wife had been visiting Sarah Laughs without his knowing it, and that this may have had something to do with her "accidental" death. Noonan must overcome his deepest fears and discover the mystery of the haunting and the town to be able to somehow accept the loss of his wife and move forward with his life.
Bag of Bones is an engrossing and compelling novel. We understand and feel Noonan's fears as he faces the unknown, feel his agony for his losses and sympathize with his writer's block. In addition to the love story of Noonan and his past wife, the novel also portrays a compelling ghost story that reaches back into the small town's repressed past. Through the eyes of the main character Noonan, we are also given a satirical insider's look at the publishing world as only as Stephen King could see it. Complex and intriguing, this is truly one of King's best works. Highly Recommended.
Beyond the Wall of Sleep by R. Andrew HeidelMortco, August 1998.
Hardcover, 56 pages.
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This fascinating little collection of short stories and poetry by R. Andrew Heidel shows a promising new talent to be watched. The nine short stories include the witty and thought-provoking "Dead Drunk, " the story of an ordinary guy who meets Death herself in a bar, "Staring Skyward" the story of a man who is terrified of getting left out of the next level of human evolution and "The God Makers," the story of a simple fishing village which learns to worship the sea. The poetry ranges from the very simple to more experimental pieces, and is dark and interesting.
Mystical, magical and sometimes surreal, the short stories from Beyond the Wall of Sleep will have you thinking about them long after you've put it down. An excellent debut from a talented writer whose talents should translate well into a full-length novel.
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