Lisey’s Story by Stephen King

Lisey\'s Story cover

Lisey’s Story is a love story, King-style.  It is a love story on many levels: Lisey’s love for her husband, Scott’s love for his brother, first, and later his wife, the sister thing of the Debusher girls, Scott’s love of writing, and people’s love of storytelling.

It is the story of fictional author, Scott Landon, and his surviving wife, Lisey (rhymes with “CeeCee”).  Even though Scott has passed, he will still have his say, and directs Lisey on his final “bool”, or a treasure hunt.  Through the process of discovering each clue, she is guided by Scott behind the purple curtain to the memories too dificult to be remembered.  It is through this process that the nature and origin of Scott’s writing genius is revealed, and the connection Scott had had with Lisey’s manic-depressive sister Amanda Debusher who has a penchant for self mutilation and slipping into periods of catatonia.

While I don’t believe this is one of King’s best, it is, however, my favorite.  There is so much in Lisey’s Story that resonates with my own life experiences and writing process. 

First of all, as a recovering cutter, the explanations of why Scott’s dad, Scott himself, and Amanda do it are true to the emotions and reasoning that go on in the mind of a cutter.  The cocept it is a way to “get the bad-gunky out” is one that crossed my mind often before doing it; I had to relieve the pressure valve.  That Manda covers hers because they are her treasures and not for others to see is another truth, as they serve as medals and trophies to my enduring life, trials and suffering.  Cutting is a flight-or-fight response gone sideways, as shown by Scott’s gift of a blood bool to Lisey when they were dating.  You are forced into a spot where you can’t run becuase where can you go to escape yourself? and you can’t fight back against the person who’s confronting you.  The tension must go somewhere, and it is allowed to bleed out.  That Amanda felt no pain and only ecstacy when doing it is spot on, as it releases the brain’s natural opiates.

Second, I have often pondered and been amazed at how different people in different places from different background come up with the same thoughts, stories and discoveries.  Jung called this “collective consciousness”.  King describes this mystery as “the language-pool, the myth-pool, where we all go down to drink” and cast our nets, where the bravest, the Austens, Tolstoys and Doskievskys sail out into the deepest waters to catch the biggest fish.

Third, it is this “pool” that is the centerpiece of “Boo-Ya Moon,” Scott’s version of the parallel dimensional place that we retreat to when life becomes more than we can handle.  King proposes that each person’s place is different and specific to them, but is the same thing.  It is to this place many of the “gorks” in the psych ward have slipped away.  It is in Amanda’s place, the dock by the S.S. Hollyhocks, that Lisey has to go to retrieve her “big sissa Manda bunny.”

The book is woven throughout in the Stephen King fashion with a monster sighted in reflections, a crazed lunatic hell-bent-for-leather to torture Lisey, and a dead cat in a mailbox.  It is a journey into an abusive past with a psuchotic father, the survival and victory over a monster, the acceptance of the death of the love of her life, and collecting the prize at the end of the bool, for all treasure hunts end with the discovery of something precious.