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Duma Key [Mass Market Paperback]

Stephen King
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 21 2008
When Edgar Freemantle moves to Duma Key to escape his past, he doesn't expect to find much there. But Duma Key and its mysteries have been waiting for him. The shells beneath his house are whispering to him, and something in the view from his window urges him to discover a talent he never knew he had. Edgar Freemantle begins to paint. Even though he has lost an arm. And even though the hand he uses is the one he lost !
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

It would be impossible to convey the wonder and the horror of Stephen King's latest novel in just a few words. Suffice it to say that Duma Key, the story of Edgar Freemantle and his recovery from the terrible nightmare-inducing accident that stole his arm and ended his marriage, is Stephen King's most brilliant novel to date (outside of the Dark Tower novels, in which case each is arguably his best work). Duma Key is as rich and rewarding as Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (yes, that Shawshank Redemption), and as truly scary as anything King has written (and that's saying a lot). Readers who have "always wanted to try Stephen King" but never known where to start should try a few pages of Duma Key--the frankness with which Edgar reveals his desperate, sputtering rages and thoughts of suicide is King at the top of his game. And that's just the first thirty pages.... --Daphne Durham

Duma Key: Where It All Began
A Note from Chuck Verrill, the Longtime Editor of Stephen King
In the spring of 2006 Stephen King told me he was working on a Florida story that was beginning to grow on him. "I'm thinking of calling it Duma Key," he offered. I liked the sound of that--the title was like a drumbeat of dread. "You know how Lisey's Story is a story about marriage?" he said. "Sure," I answered. The novel hadn't yet been published, but I knew its story well: Lisey and Scott Landon--what a marriage that was. Then he dropped the other shoe: "I think Duma Key might be my story of divorce."

Pretty soon I received a slim package from a familiar address in Maine. Inside was a short story titled "Memory"--a story of divorce, all right, but set in Minnesota. By the end of the summer, when Tin House published "Memory," Stephen had completed a draft of Duma Key, and it became clear to me how "Memory" and its narrator, Edgar Freemantle, had moved from Minnesota to Florida, and how a story of divorce had turned into something more complex, more strange, and much more terrifying.

If you read the following two texts side by side--"Memory" as it was published by Tin House and the opening chapter of Duma Key in final form- -you'll see a writer at work, and how stories can both contract and expand. Whether Duma Key is an expansion of "Memory," or "Memory" a contraction of Duma Key. I can't really say. Can you?

--Chuck Verrill

Memories are contrary things; if you quit chasing them and turn your back, they often return on their own. That's what Kamen says. I tell him I never chased the memory of my accident. Some things, I say, are better forgotten.

Maybe, but that doesn’t matter, either. That's what Kamen says.

My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in building and construction. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I was a genuine American-boy success in that life, worked my way up like a motherf---er, and for me, everything worked out. When Minneapolis–St. Paul boomed, The Freemantle Company boomed. When things tightened up, I never tried to force things. But I played my hunches, and most of them played out well. By the time I was fifty, Pam and I were worth about forty million dollars. And what we had together still worked. I looked at other women from time to time but never strayed. At the end of our particular Golden Age, one of our girls was at Brown and the other was teaching in a foreign exchange program. Just before things went wrong, my wife and I were planning to go and visit her.

I had an accident at a job site. That's what happened. I was in my pickup truck. The right side of my skull was crushed. My ribs were broken. My right hip was shattered. And although I retained sixty percent of the sight in my right eye (more, on a good day), I lost almost all of my right arm.

I was supposed to lose my life, but I didn’t. Then I was supposed to become one of the Vegetable Simpsons, a Coma Homer, but that didn't happen, either. I was one confused American when I came around, but the worst of that passed. By the time it did, my wife had passed, too. She's remarried to a fellow who owns bowling alleys. My older daughter likes him. My younger daughter thinks he’s a yank-off. My wife says she’ll come around.

Maybe , maybe no. That's what Kamen says.

When I say I was confused, I mean that at first I didn’t know who people were, or what had happened, or why I was in such awful pain. I can't remember the quality and pitch of that pain now. I know it was excruciating, but it's all pretty academic. Like a picture of a mountain in National Geographic magazine. It wasn’t academic at the time. At the time it was more like climbing a mountain.

Continue Reading "Memory"

Duma Key
How to Draw a Picture
Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How do we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time on Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I’ve come to believe.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone, and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then one day she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon-line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil... hesitating... and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice. Pictures are magic, as you know.

My Other Life
My name is Edgar Freemantle. I used to be a big deal in the building and contracting business. This was in Minnesota, in my other life. I learned that my-other-life thing from Wireman. I want to tell you about Wireman, but first let's get through the Minnesota part.

Gotta say it: I was a genuine American-boy success there. Worked my way up in the company where I started, and when I couldn’t work my way any higher there, I went out and started my own. The boss of the company I left laughed at me, said I'd be broke in a year. I think that's what most bosses say when some hot young pocket-rocket goes off on his own.

For me, everything worked out. When Minneapolis–St. Paul boomed, The Freemantle Company boomed. When things tightened up, I never tried to play big. But I did play my hunches, and most played out well. By the time I was fifty, Pam and I were worth forty million dollars. And we were still tight. We had two girls, and at the end of our particular Golden Age, Ilse was at Brown and Melinda was teaching in France, as part of a foreign exchange program. At the time things went wrong, my wife and I were planning to go and visit her.

Continue Reading Duma Key

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In bestseller King's well-crafted tale of possession and redemption, Edgar Freemantle, a successful Minnesota contractor, barely survives after the Dodge Ram he's driving collides with a 12-story crane on a job site. While Freemantle suffers the loss of an arm and a fractured skull, among other serious injuries, he makes impressive gains in rehabilitation. Personality changes that include uncontrollable rages, however, hasten the end of his 20-year-plus marriage. On his psychiatrist's advice, Freemantle decides to start anew on a remote island in the Florida Keys. To his astonishment, he becomes consumed with making art—first pencil sketches, then paintings—that soon earns him a devoted following. Freemantle's artwork has the power both to destroy life and to cure ailments, but soon the Lovecraftian menace that haunts Duma Key begins to assert itself and torment those dear to him. The transition from the initial psychological suspense to the supernatural may disappoint some, but even those few who haven't read King (Lisey's Story) should appreciate his ability to create fully realized characters and conjure horrors that are purely manmade. (Jan. 22)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once again, Stephen King demonstrates his genius story-telling abilities! Awesome goose-bumps causing twists with a story about family, and friendships woven into it! Interesting artsy stuff, and great scenery descriptions with nice smattering of zombies, and ghosts! Nice thick read--good luck putting it down!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Thriller May 17 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I fell away from Stephen King books for a little while until I read a review that stated this book was a perfect introduction to Stephen King. That reviewer was absolutely correct. Duma Key is a perfect blend of thrills, angst, other worldliness, and subtle humour. Very enjoyable, and highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Sept. 16 2008
By Misslou
I have been a King fan since I first read "Carrie" way back in 1974. Until I read "Duma Key", "The Stand" had been my favourite. Now I'm happy to have 2 favs! This book kept me wanting to keep reading. For anyone who has done any sketching and/or painting, you can truly relate to Ed. This is a awesome book and I've already read it again!
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By John M. Ford TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Edgar Freemantle, a Minnesota construction manager, is recovering from a crane accident that cost him his right arm. Also recovering from the disintegration of his marriage, Edgar rents a house on Florida's Duma Key. He divides his time between physical therapy and a renewed interest in sketching and painting. Edgar's art takes on an eerie quality as he creates haunting scenes he does not understand. And as he begins to paint with his missing right hand.

Edgar progresses along two paths. As planned, he gets on with his recovery. Edgar becomes physically stronger, proving his growing stamina with lengthening walks on the beach each day. He comes to terms with his estranged wife, two adult daughters, and former life in Minnesota. And Edgar makes friends, both on his little island and off. These are solid friendships with interesting people. Some, like Jerome Wireman from down the beach, have their own stories to tell. Others, like his handyman Jack Cantori, reveal little of themselves, but bring stability to Edgar's new life on the Key.

Like others who find themselves in a Stephen King story, Edgar also goes down a darker path. He draws on his terrifying supernatural experiences, his friends' knowledge of the Key's troubled history, and his emerging understanding of his own otherworldly artistic talent. Edgar slowly figures out the evil power confronting him and the rules of the supernatural world Stephen King has drawn around him. Edgar's progress along both paths is braided into a story that binds our attention. Some find the pace slow between the book's scarier events, but this time is well used to show the steady progress of Edgar's physical recovery and deepening friendships.

It surprises no one when this author tells a superior horror tale.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vintage King Feb. 4 2008
By Carol
I was disappointed in King's book "Lisey's Story" but our library had just gotten "Duma Key" in so I thought I would give it a chance, having read almost all of King's work over the years. I was captured by the first page and could hardly put it down. Great characters and dialogue and without giving away the ending my only disappointment was one person's fate at the end in Mexico. Steven King can still write a great novel where many other modern day writers fail to keep up to their fans expectations.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Touch of Supernatural Oct. 28 2008
By Toni Osborne TOP 100 REVIEWER
Edgar Freemantle a building contractor who had a job site accident; his skull was fractured, his hip shattered, he lost an arm and almost his sanity. He is in constant pain and prone to fits of rage, to make matters worse his wife decides to leave him and demands a divorce and all the fringe benefits.

After pondering suicide, he relocates to Duma Key, Florida where he rents Big Pink, a house built partially over the water. A place where the waves at high tides stir the seashells under the house creating an eerie sound, tennis balls appear unexpectedly and a heron flies by upside-down. Inspired by these activities, he decides to create his ideas on canvas, which leads to all sorts of supernatural developments. His pictures reflect not only his past but future horrors, will his art save him or kill him and those he loves...can ghosts come alive on canvas?

Duma Key is a terrifying delight, a slow and intense story about friendship, family and events of a mind under extraordinary stressful times. The protagonists are intensely well characterized as they make their way through the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day adventures; they add depth and are the focus of the story.

Not only is Mr King a master in describing chilling horrors and creating vivid images; you can imagine and hear the crashing waves, smell the musty air and feel the creepy crawlies, a touch of supernatural creating a wonderful novel.

The strong devotional care given to Elizabeth and the tenacity of Edgar to regain his mobility is possibly derived from Mr King's own life experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 2nd Listen and Still 5 Star June 16 2010
By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
I listened to Duma Key when it was first released and thoroughly enjoyed the story and the audio version. John Slattery's voice is absolutely perfect for the role. His cadence, inflections, and believable character variations are a huge plus. I am a big fan of Mad Men but after the first 20 minutes had lost any association with Roger Sterling. This is one of King's stronger entries exploring in a unique way many of his constant themes: redemption, vanquishing evil (at least for a time), bitter and critical self-examination, human fallibility and, of course, plenty of creepy manifestations. He inherently believes in the goodness of people especially when they band together in a noble or necessary cause. I have just finished listening to it for a second time and it has lost none of its appeal, indeed, I discovered more this time through.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Disgusting
I feel horrible that I spent a week reading this. I did a lot of reading during said week; probably could have finished 4 novels in the time this one took. Read more
Published on March 28 2010 by Brad Fast
5.0 out of 5 stars Well read, engaging, long audiobook novel
I used to be a big King fan but "grew out" of his stuff around Dolores Claiborne and haven't read a thing of his since then. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2009 by crazybatcow
4.0 out of 5 stars A departure from the norm for Stephen King
Duma Key

By Stephen King, Scribner, 611 pp., $32

Stephen King has built his career by putting ordinary people into the most unusual of situations, slipping... Read more
Published on April 25 2009 by Clayton Bye
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Stephen King
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well written, descriptive, scary, just what you would expect from Mr. King.
Published on Dec 29 2008 by Kristine
5.0 out of 5 stars Best since Bag of Bones
I'm still not yet finished Duma Key, but I have to say that it's given me nightmares two night in a row now (mostly ghostly ships on the ocean, coming to get me). Read more
Published on Aug. 23 2008 by C. Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
This was my very first Stephen King novel, (I know, where have I been?)and I feel like I came off of the ride of a lifetime. Where does this man's mind come from ?! Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2008 by WP
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start but grips you none-the-less
I have read every single SK book and this one was not in my Top 5 but it's definitely a good King book. Read more
Published on July 18 2008 by Mo Mo
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