In 1985, 39-year-old Stephen King announced in public that his pseudonymous alter ego, Richard Bachman
, was dead. (Never mind that he revived him years later to write The Regulators
.) At the beginning of The Dark Half
(1989), 39-year-old writer Thad Beaumont announces in public that his own pseudonym, George Stark, is dead.
Now, King didn't want to jettison the Bachman novel, titled Machine Dreams, that was he working on. So he incorporated it in The Dark Half as the crime oeuvre of George Stark, whose recurring hero/alter ego is an evil character named Alexis Machine.
Thad Beaumont's pseudonym is not so docile as Stephen King's, though, and George Stark bursts forth into reality. At that point, two stories kick into gear: a mystery-detective story about the crime spree of George Stark (or is it Alexis Machine?) and a horror story about Beaumont's struggle to catch up with his doppelganger and kill him dead.
This is not the first time that Stephen King has written a dark allegory about the fiction writer's situation. As the New York Times writes, "Misery (1987) is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his audience, which holds him prisoner and dictates what he writes, on pain of death. The Dark Half is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his creative genius, the vampire within him, the part of him that only awakes to raise Cain when he writes, the fratricidal twin who occupies 'the womblike dungeon' of his imagination." --Fiona Webster
--This text refers to the
Mass Market Paperback
From Publishers Weekly
The protagonist of King's top-notch new novel is literary novelist Thad Beaumont, whose greatest success has come with three gory thrillers written under the pseudonym George Stark. (King himself wrote five novels under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.) When a blackmailer threatens to reveal Stark's identity (planning his scheme, he finds a new use for PW 's "People" page), Beaumont and his literary agent decide to foil the plan and capitalize on Stark's "demise." But Stark, who of course was never alive, will not stay dead either. Beaumont's alter ego (for Stark is obviously more than just a pen name) seeks revenge against all those involved in killing him off, and his murderous rampage, gory and gripping, systematically reduces the ranks of his enemies to Thad, his wife and two children. Stark's aim--to force Beaumont to write another Stark novel--is basically a variation on King's Misery , in which a deranged fan held a writer captive until he wrote another novel featuring the heroine whose life he had terminated in his previous book. But this new King thriller is so wondrously frightening that mesmerized readers won't be able fault the master for reusing a premise that puts both Misery and The Dark Half among the best of his voluminous work. 1,500,000 first printing; $500,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.