I’m still reading Stephen King’s Lisey Story, but there’s a good chance that I will finish it tonight or tomorrow.
I’m finding that there area few holes in my understanding of the plot. For instance, what is Scott Landon’s “long boy” that he so often mentions? In my reading last night, I learned that it was a creature in Boo’ya Moon, an alternative reality that Scott visits, where Scott finds healing and inspiration. When Scott was dying (the doctors identified his disease as pneumonia, but Lisey reflects that it could have easily been something that Scott picked up at Boo’ya Moon), he was unable to access the healing pool because his “long boy” was blocking his path. But the long boy did manage to help out Lisey. When a psychopathic fan of Scott Landon, James Dooley, was after Lisey so he could take her late husband’s manuscripts and give them to a professor who wanted them, Lisey and her sister Amanda take Dooley to the Boo’ya Moon, and there Scott’s long boy kills him, or absorbs Dooley into himself.
On page 449, Lisey reflects that the long boy was “the living embodiment of what Scott had been talking about when he talked about the bad-gunky.” The bad gunky was a sort of madness or depression that ran through Scott’s family, and the long boy is somehow an embodiment of that. There is some depth or symbolism that may inhabit this book, therefore, even though Lisey takes a whack at literary criticism on pages 415-416:
“Lisey looked at the many drawers of Dumbo’s Big Jumbo, but going through them seemed like make-work now…and probably was. She had an idea that there was very little of actual interest up here. Not in the drawers, not in the filing cabinets, not hiding on the computer hard drives. Oh, maybe a little treasure for the more rabid Incunks, the collectors and the academics who maintained their positions in large part by examining the literary equivalent of navel-lint in each other’s abstruse journals; ambitious, overeducated goofs who had lost touch with what books and reading were actually about and could be content to go on spinning straw into footnoted fool’s gold for decades on end. But all the real horses were out of the barn. The Scott Landon stuff that had pleased regular readers—-people stuck on airplanes between L.A. and Sydney, people stuck in hospital waiting rooms, people idling their way through long, rainy summer vacation days, taking turns between the novel of the week and the jigsaw puzzle out on the sunporch—-all that stuff had been published. The Secret Pearl, published a month after his death, had been the last.”
This reminds me of a passage in Stephen King’s IT, in which the narrator talks about Bill Denbrough’s frustration with literary critics who try to find some complex sexual or political symbolism in stories, rather than simply enjoying them as good stories. Stephen King writes a good story, but, at the same time, notwithstanding the mockery of literary criticism that comes out in some of his books, he does use symbolism. Here is an article that comments on that issue, referencing the LOST episode in which Juliet was leading a group discussion about Stephen King, while responding to someone in the group who did not think that King wrote serious work.
As far as Scott’s “long boy” goes, I suppose that I could go through the book again and read every single reference to it in order to understand better what it is. I think that I missed it in reading the book this first time around because the book has a lot of silly language that I do not understand, language that was a part of the repertoire between Scott and Lisey in their relationship, and I thought that “long boy” was just another example of that—-silly language that was non-essential to the plot. I don’t plan to reread the book anytime soon, though. To be honest, I’m eager to leave this book behind and to go on to something else. I would probably appreciate the book better were it made into a movie, since then I could follow it better. I may reread the book in the distant future, though, because, although I did not fall in love with it this first time around, it is a good book, and I could probably appreciate it the second time around, after gaining a degree of distance from it. I could then return to the book knowing what to expect and to look for, and I’d appreciate it more.