Read Lisey’s Story Online

Authors: Stephen King

Lisey’s Story

BOOK: Lisey’s Story

“Exhilarating” “Audacious” “Passionate” “Exquisitely told”

Stunning words of praise for a stunningly different Stephen King novel. . . his #1 bestseller


Lisey's Story,
King has crashed the exclusive party of literary fiction, and he'll be no easier to ignore than Carrie at the prom. . . . An audacious meditation on the creative process and a remarkable intersection of the different strains of his talent: the sensitivity of his autobiographical essays, the insight of his critical commentary, the suspense of his short stories and the psychological terror of his novels.”

The Washington Post

“Rarely has King created a world as compelling, as tear-streaked as the one he has built in
Lisey's Story
 . . . possibly King's best work since
The Stand

—The Associated Press

“Intricate. . . . Exhilarating.”

The New Yorker

“Disturbing and sorrowful. . . . This novel answers the question King posed twenty-five years ago in his tale ‘The Reach': yes, the dead do love.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“A beautiful, exquisitely told story, a tale of romance and passion so strong that it can outlast even the separation of death.”

Chicago Sun-Times

More acclaim for Stephen King and
Lisey's Story

“A passionate, often wrenching account. . . . Once King has you in his grasp, you'll willingly follow him to the end.”

(Fort Worth, TX)

Lisey's Story
is unlike any novel King has written. Its tone and style feel highly personal. You sense that King really, really loves this book. . . .”

USA Today

“An imaginative, emotional book as easily defined by grace as by terror. . . . At once heartbreaking and heartwarming.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Lisey's Story
is many stories at once: a touching exploration of grief, an honest appraisal of marriage, a salute to resolute women and a paean to the collective imagination that links and sustains us. . . . There is also a surprising poignancy and deep understanding of what the writer risks and gains through the act of creation.”

Hartford Courant

Lisey's Story
should serve as definitive notice that Stephen King has evolved from a talented writer of horror into a serious literary artist.”

Los Angeles Times

“First and last, this is a powerful love story. . . . One of King's finest works.”

Kirkus Reviews

Lisey's Story
 . . . I've come to see that you don't know the power of the man's work if you limit yourself to the iconography. . . . What's still haunting me is the language . . . King evokes the mesmeric power of words to both maintain and destroy sanity with a clarity that really gets to you.”


“Powerful. . . . A love story and supernatural suspense tale rolled into one gripping read. . . . This is King at his best. As a storyteller, a fantasist, and a chronicler of the human condition, he has no match.”

Rocky Mountain News

“Splendid. . . . A wonderfully structured novel . . . with the entirety coming together like a well-planned mosaic.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“The novel soars in its depiction of the marital landscape: the day-today rhythms, the slights, the unspoken joys and, most of all, the elusive glue binding ever-erratic human hearts.”

The Christian Science Monitor

“King has been getting me to look at the world with terror and wonder since I was fifteen years old, and I have never been more persuaded than by this book of his greatness.”

—Michael Chabon, author of
The Final Solution: A Story of Detection
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

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Part 1: Bool Hunt

I. Lisey and Amanda (Everything the Same)

II. Lisey and The Madman (Darkness Loves Him)

III. Lisey and The Silver Spade (Wait for the Wind to Change)

IV. Lisey and The Blood-Bool (All the Bad-Gunky)

Part 2: SOWISA

V. Lisey and The Long, Long Thursday (Stations of the Bool)

VI. Lisey and The Professor (This Is What It Gets You)

VII. Lisey and The Law (Obsession and The Exhausted Mind)

VIII. Lisey and Scott (Under the Yum-Yum Tree)

IX. Lisey and The Black Prince of The Incunks (The Duty of Love)

X. Lisey and The Arguments Against Insanity (The Good Brother)

XI. Lisey and The Pool (Shhhh—Now You Must Be Still)

XII. Lisey at Greenlawn (The Hollyhocks)

XIII. Lisey and Amanda (The Sister Thing)

XIV. Lisey and Scott (Babyluv)

XV. Lisey and The Long Boy (Pafko at the Wall)

Part 3: Lisey's Story

XVI. Lisey and The Story Tree (Scott Has His Say)

Author's Statement

About Stephen King

For Tabby

Where do you go when you're lonely?

Where do you go when you're blue?

Where do you go when you're lonely?

I'll follow you

When the stars go blue.





“If I were the moon, I know where I would fall down.”

—D. H. Lawrence,
The Rainbow

I. Lisey and Amanda (Everything the Same)

To the public eye, the spouses of well-known writers are all but invisible, and no one knew it better than Lisey Landon. Her husband had won the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, but Lisey had given only one interview in her life. This was for the well-known women's magazine that publishes the column “Yes, I'm Married to
!” She spent roughly half of its five-hundred-word length explaining that her nickname rhymed with “CeeCee.” Most of the other half had to do with her recipe for slow-cooked roast beef. Lisey's sister Amanda said that the picture accompanying the interview made Lisey look fat.

None of Lisey's sisters was immune to the pleasures of setting the cat among the pigeons (“stirring up a stink” had been their father's phrase for it), or having a good natter about someone else's dirty laundry, but the only one Lisey had a hard time liking was this same Amanda. Eldest (and oddest) of the onetime Debusher girls of Lisbon Falls, Amanda currently lived alone, in a house which Lisey had provided, a small, weather-tight place not too far from Castle View where Lisey, Darla, and Cantata could keep an eye on her. Lisey had bought it for her seven years ago, five before Scott died. Died Young. Died Before His Time, as the saying was. Lisey still had trouble believing he'd been gone for two years. It seemed both longer and the blink of an eye.

When Lisey finally got around to making a start at cleaning out his office suite, a long and beautifully lit series of rooms that had once been
no more than the loft above a country barn, Amanda had shown up on the third day, after Lisey had finished her inventory of all the foreign editions (there were hundreds) but before she could do more than start listing the furniture, with little stars next to the pieces she thought she ought to keep. She waited for Amanda to ask her why she wasn't moving
for heaven's sake, but Amanda asked no questions. While Lisey moved from the furniture question to a listless (and daylong) consideration of the cardboard boxes of correspondence stacked in the main closet, Amanda's focus seemed to remain on the impressive stacks and piles of memorabilia which ran the length of the study's south wall. She worked her way back and forth along this snakelike accretion, saying little or nothing but jotting frequently in a little notebook she kept near to hand.

What Lisey didn't say was
What are you looking for?
What are you writing down?
As Scott had pointed out on more than one occasion, Lisey had what was surely among the rarest of human talents: she was a business-minder who did not mind too much if you didn't mind yours. As long as you weren't making explosives to throw at someone, that was, and in Amanda's case, explosives were always a possibility. She was the sort of woman who couldn't help prying, the sort of woman who
open her mouth sooner or later.

Her husband had headed south from Rumford, where they had been living (“like a couple of wolverines caught in a drainpipe,” Scott said after an afternoon visit he vowed never to repeat) in 1985. Her one child, named Intermezzo and called Metzie for short, had gone north to Canada (with a long-haul trucker for a beau) in 1989. “One flew north, one flew south, one couldn't shut her everlasting mouth.” That had been their father's rhyme when they were kids, and the one of Dandy Dave Debusher's girls who could never shut her everlasting mouth was surely Manda, dumped first by her husband and then by her own daughter.

Hard to like as Amanda sometimes was, Lisey hadn't wanted her down there in Rumford on her own; didn't trust her on her own, if it came to that, and although they'd never said so aloud, Lisey was sure Darla and Cantata felt the same. So she'd had a talk with Scott, and
found the little Cape Cod, which could be had for ninety-seven thousand dollars, cash on the nail. Amanda had moved up within easy checking range soon after.

Now Scott was dead and Lisey had finally gotten around to the business of cleaning out his writing quarters. Halfway through the fourth day, the foreign editions were boxed up, the correspondence was marked and in some sort of order, and she had a good idea of what furniture was going and what was staying. So why did it feel that she had done so little? She'd known from the outset that this was a job which couldn't be hurried. Never mind all the importuning letters and phone calls she'd gotten since Scott's death (and more than a few visits, too). She supposed that in the end, the people who were interested in Scott's unpublished writing would get what they wanted, but not until she was ready to give it to them. They hadn't been clear on that at first; they weren't
down with it,
as the saying was. Now she thought most of them were.

There were lots of words for the stuff Scott had left behind. The only one she completely understood was
but there was another one, a funny one, that sounded like
That was what the impatient people wanted, the wheedlers, and the angry ones—Scott's
Lisey began to think of them as Incunks.


What she felt most of all, especially after Amanda showed up, was discouraged, as if she'd either underestimated the task itself or overestimated (wildly) her ability to see it through to its inevitable conclusion—the saved furniture stored in the barn below, the rugs rolled up and taped shut, the yellow Ryder van in the driveway, throwing its shadow on the board fence between her yard and the Galloways' next door.

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