I’m a big fan of Stephen King. In fact, I’ve been working on a project since 2013 to read all of his books in order of publication (I took a year or two off at one point for…reasons). And while I’m a fan of everything he writes, even *I* have my favorites and my not-so-favorites. Not everything he writes speaks to me or sits well with me. Uncle Steve can be verbose. Sometimes I love one of his books until the last 100 pages…and then I want to chuck it across the room. But Duma Key? That is going on my list of favorites.
The plot, from Goodreads:
A terrible construction site accident takes Edgar Freemantle’s right arm and scrambles his memory and his mind, leaving him with little but rage as he begins the ordeal of rehabilitation. A marriage that produced two lovely daughters suddenly ends, and Edgar begins to wish he hadn’t survived the injuries that could have killed him. He wants out. His psychologist, Dr. Kamen, suggests a “geographic cure,” a new life distant from the Twin Cities and the building business Edgar grew from scratch. And Kamen suggests something else.
“Edgar does anything make you happy?”
“I used to sketch.”
“Take it up again. You need hedges…hedges against the night.”
Edgar leaves Minnesota for a rented house on Duma Key, a stunningly beautiful, eerily undeveloped splinter of the Florida coast. The sun setting into the Gulf of Mexico and the tidal rattling of shells on the beach call out to him, and Edgar draws. A visit from Ilse, the daughter he dotes on, starts his movement out of solitude. He meets a kindred spirit in Wireman, a man reluctant to reveal his own wounds, and then Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman whose roots are tangled deep in Duma Key. Now Edgar paints, sometimes feverishly, his exploding talent both a wonder and a weapon. Many of his paintings have a power that cannot be controlled. When Elizabeth’s past unfolds and the ghosts of her childhood begin to appear, the damage of which they are capable is truly devastating.
Something about Duma Key touched me very deeply. It moved me. No matter how you feel about his writing or his books, here’s the thing about Stephen King: he knows the human mind. He knows what terrifies us. He knows what makes us angry. He knows what makes us sad. And SK is not afraid to have his characters think the kind of thoughts we all have, but would never speak aloud. A lot of King’s books take place inside his characters’ heads, which is the main reason I think his books don’t usually translate well to screen.
I’ve been able to personally relate to more than a few of King’s characters/books, but this one in particular really struck a chord with me for various reasons. And oh, the characters…Wireman, Elizabeth, Jack…they’re all wonderful and I wish they were real so I could meet them. And it’s no wonder SK got Edgar exactly right–having been through a life-threatening accident himself, SK knows exactly what the mind and body of someone coming back from something like that feels like.
I could blabber on much more about Duma Key, but I don’t know how to put all of my feelings about it into words. I could relate to so many of Edgar’s thoughts (for different reasons), and the musings about our memories and how faulty they can be were very touching.
Bottom line? Just read it–I highly recommend it.