Misery

Stephen King, Author Viking Books $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-81364-3
King's new novel, about a writer held hostage by his self-proclaimed ""number-one fan,'' is unadulteratedly terrifying. Paul Sheldon, a writer of historical romances, is in a car accident; rescued by nurse Annie Wilkes, he slowly realizes that salvation can be worse than death. Sheldon has killed off Misery Chastain, the popular protagonist of his Misery series and Annie, who has a murderous past, wants her back. Keeping the paralyzed Sheldon prisoner, she forces him to revive the character in a continuation of the series, and she reads each page as it comes out of the typewriter; there is a joyously Dickensian novel within a novel here, and it appears in faded typescript. Studded among the frightening moments are sparkling reflections on the writer and his audience, on the difficulties, joys and responsibilities of being a storyteller, on the nature of the muse, on the differences between ``serious'' and ``popular'' writing. Sheldon is a revealingly autobiographical figure; Annie is not merely a monster but is subtly and often touchingly portrayed, allowing hostage and keeper a believable, if twisted, relationship. The best parts of this novel demand that we take King seriously as a writer with a deeply felt understanding of human psychology. One million first printing; $400,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection. (June 8)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
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