Tag Archives: Art

Review: Duma Key

Duma Key

Duma Key
By Stephen King
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781416552512, January 2008, 624pp.)

The Short of It:

Once again, King pulls you in with his vivid imagination, colorful characters and wry sense of humor. This is “classic” King.

The Rest of It:

I’ve got a thing for King. I like to read him in between my heavier reads, and I always save him for long breaks. I spent my July 4th weekend curled-up with Duma Key, and let me tell you, it was wonderful!

After surviving a construction accident that nearly kills him, Edgar is forced to come to terms with his new life. Left with one arm and angry as all get out, Edgar is not pleasant to be around. His wife has decided to leave him, and his grown daughters aren’t sure what to make of their new dad. On the recommendation of his doctors and close friends, Edgar rents a house on Duma Key’s Florida coast. There, his phantom arm continues to remind him of what was, but he gains a skill which he never had before; he becomes an artist. At first he is startled, but as the paintings begin to tell a story, he becomes frightened.

Why I loved this book:

  1. Memorable characters. This may be my favorite King yet. I fell in love with Wireman and Jack. These are Edgar’s friends on Duma and they make this good read, great.
  2. The setting. The sounds of the ocean, the color of the sunsets all play a role in this story. I had no trouble visualizing Duma Key’s strip of coastline and that’s saying a lot because Duma Key does not exist.
  3. Very little gore. I know a lot of you shy away from King because you have this image in your head that he is all about gore. That’s not true. Yes, he does have a vivid imagination and his stories often have horrific scenes in them, but he plays upon your insecurities and he does it well. That’s why his books have the effect that they do. Given what I just said, the images created in this one are very mild compared to some of his other books. Mild, but still memorable.
  4. There’s supernatural stuff going on. Some ghostly in nature, a bit of intuition and a lot of premonition.
  5. There were no slow spots. This book is a chunkster, weighing in at 600+ pages yet I didn’t notice its length at all. It was steady reading throughout and there were many times where I didn’t want to put it down.
  6. It’s “classic” King. Meaning, it’s the way he used to write when I first started reading him (late 80’s). After his accident in 1999, which involved being struck by a minivan, countless operations and several physical therapy sessions, his books took on a different tone. I didn’t care for that tone. I still read his work because I am a constant reader (what he calls his fans) but I didn’t care for it.  Duma Key, was written at the end of that phase (imo) and he returned to his classic style of writing.

When I mentioned that I was reading this one, a lot of you said that you were looking forward to the audio version. I imagine it would be wonderful on audio, but there is something special about reading a book like this and picturing these characters yourself. Yes, I know you can do that with audio (to a degree) but I’m sure my image of Wireman would be completely different on audio. It would be an interesting test, that’s for sure.

Needless to say, I added this to my list of faves for this year even though it’s not literary or considered one of those “must-read-before-you-die” books. I am adding this one purely for the characters. I was so sad to say goodbye to them.

Source: Borrowed.

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Review: The Swan Thieves (audio)

The Swan Thieves Audio Version

The Swan Thieves
By Elizabeth Kostova
Ready By: Treat Williams, Anne Heche, Erin Cottrell, Sarah Zimmerman and John Lee
(Hachette Audio, Compact Disc, 9781600247453, January 2010)

The Short of It:

I adored the references to art and the mystery behind the main character, but the story was too long and drawn out for my taste.

The Rest of It:

Robert Oliver, a well-known artist, attacks a painting in the National Gallery of Art and is institutionalized due to his unstable behavior. Dr. Marlow is called in to treat him and as luck would have it, he is an artist himself so he understands Oliver in a way that no one else does. As Marlow investigates Oliver’s past, he talks to Oliver’s ex-wife Kate, and his ex-lover Mary in an attempt to piece together a life that has become a big mystery for all involved. In addition to Oliver’s story in the present day, the author also takes us back to the late 1800’s to explore the artists of that time and the painter that Oliver is obsessed with.

There are lots of wonderful visuals in this novel. As an audio book, I lost myself in the descriptions of the paintings numerous times. Listening to it was very calming and the characters were interesting and complex but it’s one of those novels where nothing really happens. There is very little action…very little movement if you get my drift and this made the story drag. Drag, I say! Plus, the reading itself was not that great. Much of it seemed trite and I can’t figure out if that is due to the readers (there are several) or the dialogue or a combination of both.

As an audio book with 17 CDs, I was willing to put up with the lack of action but as a book, I think I would have gotten frustrated with it. At about disc 14, I was thinking that I might skip a few tracks just to get back to the meat of it, but I continued on thinking I’d miss something critical. In hindsight, I don’t think I would have missed much.

I don’t want you to think that I didn’t enjoy this one, because  I did but I don’t think this author is for me. I had a hard time with The Historian and could not finish it (too wordy). Had this one not been on audio it probably would have been a DNF (do not finish) for me because it was also very wordy and dense. If it had been a bit shorter, and the dialogue a bit more realistic, I think I could have loved this one because it contains all of the elements that I love…madness, art, conflicted characters, etc.

For those who choose their audio books based on the reader, you should note that this one is read by many readers (Anne Heche and Treat Williams) to name a few, but the reading was sort of flat and blah.

P.S. I listened to this one with the kids in the car and a couple of tracks were not appropriate for their little ears so if you are taking a road trip with the kiddies, you might want to listen to something else.

Source: Won in a giveaway.

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