King's Highway pt. 5 Duma Key

The cover to the paperback that I bought at Myopic. $3.50. Nice.
First a confession... Many of you probably remember the "Numa Numa" viral video from a few years back. As a result of over-saturation of that in those days (thank you, Bill Terranova) everytime I picked this book up when I was leaving my apartment or work, I got the song in my head and had Du-ma KEY, Du-ma KOO-OO... ringing a four-alarm-fire in the brains all day. Whew.

Another confession: I'm an idiot. I can't believe I've let so many King books go by (This is blog #5 and we've covered Salem's Lot, Night Shift, and Firestarter, but I've been reading far ahead of that and need to catch up, verdammt) without catching at least a couple of lines I really liked and writing them down. I have corrected my trajectory. Here's one:

"If you keep your focus," (paraphrasing Nietzsche) "eventually your focus will keep you."

Spoken by Wireman, one of my favorite King's-elder-guys I can ever remember reading. Poor bastard. Well, sort of. Anyway - I'm starting to see a bit of a pattern in the male relationships in King's work, or at least the smart-ass sidekick who lapses into 60s-TV-isms. Mainly guys who talk in accents you'd hear on 60s tv, I mean, or their speech is peppered with catchphrases. It might be a little repetitive, but why try to reinvent the wheel/ construct a huge spider's-web when you've got something that reads real and works? Anyway.

Hello Dali you're still swinging, I'm still singing
This is a mountain range of a novel. I was about 200 pages in before I realized I was walking this mega trail through them. Now that it's done, as I told Dawn earlier, and I meant it, I miss the crap out of walking it for the first time.

It is a novel about loss, and recovery, and more loss, and more recovery. Supernatural inspiration and the toll it takes on you. And relationships and how powerful and mysterious they are.

Not that it's a perfect book or can cut diamonds when recited at hyper-speed by a baritone, as the crazy uncle I never really had used to say. But it's more than perfect enough for me. And should be for you, too. If I was writing for a reputable magazine, I might say, "Well, Wireman's dialogue is a bit repetitive. He calls Edgar 'muchacho' more than Mary Jane calls Peter Parker 'Tiger' in those old Stan Lee scripts." Or I might bring up Nan Melda and find something there (though, perhaps not? I actually wouldn't mind reading some analysis of that character. Seems to me, she comes off not quite well but quite real and quite an important plotting refraction/ relay-point for the theme of it all.) But who gives a crap, really? I'm so glad I don't have to pretend I don't actually find it all quite lovely and evocative and wonderful to read.

The last act reminded me a little of Salem's Lot - they race the sunset to kill the monster, which inserts itself in the protagonists' heads and uses human and animal proxy to keep an eye/ run an audible. I got swept up in it, I cared about the characters, I envisioned everything described, I got mad and I got sad, and now I miss them. These things tip the scales in the balance of a life-worth-examined, you ask me.

Little things I loved: the still-growing ghost-fingernails digging into the ghost palm and forearm, the storms and the flora, the paints.

It makes sense when you read it.
And also, my now-reigning favorite description of Sharpies:  
"In my old life, I'd hated Sharpies for both the smell of the ink and their tendency to smear. In this one I'd come to love the fat boldness of the lines they created, lines that seem to insist on their own absolute reality."

It's 11:05 pm on a weeknight and give me a rake, Ma Bell. (Cross-connect! It makes sense when you read it.)

One final note - when Perse made her first appearance, I was caught unawares...

Stop now or I'll take the other one, too.
but I almost made the "yes" gesture. 

You know the one, where you make a fist  and turn it to your chest, then pump it up and down and silently nod along? That one. But: with my ghost arm.

See you next time.

(EDIT: I google-image searched all images in this post and did not appropriately credit the artists of the last two. I did so again just now, hoping I could find and cite them, but no luck. I apologize for my half-assedness in originally posting them without proper credit and for my having no further information to give.)


  1. One of King's very best novels, as far as I'm concerned. The best scenes are masterpieces of dread.

    An HBO miniseries version starring Bryan Cranston and Edward James Olmos needs to go into production RIGHT THIS INSTANT. I mean, maybe a screenplay ought to be written first, but otherwise, I demand that it happen STAT.

    1. That's some inspired casting, right there - God I'd love to see that.

      Having just read The Dead Zone, I was struck by the similarities between the two. At least in their first and second acts... I'll get into this when I blog about that one, but food for thought in the meantime.

    2. Oh man - I spent some time casting Duma Key in my head this eve and forgot all about Bryan Cranston as Edgar. That's perfect. Ditto for Admiral Adama. (But I remembered that one.)