News From The Dead Zone #31

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

More Lisey’s Story reviews are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly gives the book a starred review, and the print issue that contains the review has a short interview with King that you can also read online here. You can read reviews from Kirkus, PW, Booklist and Nora Roberts at the Lisey’s Story page at Amazon.

Stephen King and John Irving plan to appear at a Sept. 24 fundraiser for fellow writer Jim Webb’s Democratic U.S. Senate campaign at the 1,000-seat Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, VA. “It will be a lot of fun,” Grisham said of the event at which Webb will speak and also read from some of his works. Grisham said he will talk for a few minutes about the campaign and politics before reading from his new nonfiction book, An Innocent Man, due out in October. Tickets for the Webb fundraiser will be tiered at $100, $500 and $2,100, Grisham said. Webb is challenging U.S. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., in the November election. Allen’s campaign manager disparaged the Webb event, saying, “Since his whole campaign is based on fiction, having two fellow fiction novelists campaign for him is not a surprise.”

Bett’s Bookstore has just taken delivery of a huge Stephen King collection to sell on behalf of a collector. Proprietor Stu Tinker has listed the lot on eBay to generate some interest in it. Check out the Betts web page next week for an inventory listing of the 1600+ items, some of which are extremely rare.

Here is King’s newest Entertainment Weekly essay: Setting off a Wire Alarm.

For those of you who attended Harry, Carrie and Garp, I’ve heard that the signed books associated with the deluxe package are starting to arrive.

News From The Dead Zone #28

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Joe Camillieri reports that King’s official web site now has information about upcoming events related to Lisey’s Story. The SF event is showing sold out, but since it was just announced I’d recommend checking back to see if this is real or not. More events will be announced, so check that page (and this one) often.

There has been a spate of rumors alleging that George Clooney will be starring in Paramount Pictures’ remake of Pet Sematary announced recently. The report originated with Bloody Disgusting, where a follow-up stated that Clooney’s publicist denied the report.

I was at the August 1 Harry, Carrie and Garp event, which featured readings by King (“The Revenge of Lardass Hogan”), John Irving (the Christmas pageant scene from A Prayer for Owen Meany) and JK Rowling (a scene from the sixth Harry Potter novel). Special guests on Tuesday included Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Bates, Andre Braugher, Jon Stewart and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, who moderated the Q&A. King and Irving declared themselves the “support act” for Rowling, who definitely had younger and  more vocal fans in the audience. The two men had the advantage of reading hilarious passages, which resulted in more audience feedback during their respective readings. Irving and Rowling, however, were asked the more intelligent questions. There are a few user-posted photos from the event at my message board. Reports appeared many places, but the two best I’ve seen so far are here and here. The event was filmed for a webcast on MSN later this month.

News From The Dead Zone #21

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Subterranean Press announced today that they are issuing a 10th Anniversary Edition of The Green Mile. Mark Geyer, whose art graced the original paperback releases, will provide more than 60 original sketches for this edition. This exclusive publication will consist of six individual illustrated hardcover volumes, contained in a cloth slipcase. King will be signing one of the six volumes in each limited set. The book comes in three editions:

  • Gift: 2000 unsigned cloth bound sets, in slipcase
  • Limited: 148 signed numbered sets, bound in leather and cloth, in slipcase
  • Lettered: 52 signed sets, with one of the original sketches matted in the traycase

Some of the usual bookstores are getting gift editions to resell, but the Limited and Lettered editions must be ordered directly from Subterranean. These are bound to go fast!

Kirkus Review has a starred review of Lisey’s Story.

Paramount has set a September 26th release date for The Stephen King Collection, which will include the new collector’s edition DVDs of Pet Sematary and The Dead Zone as well as re-packaged versions of Silver Bullet and Graveyard Shift. The discs will also be available on the same day separately.

Speaking of The Dead Zone, Anthony Michael Hall returns Sunday (9 p.m. on USA) for a fifth season as Johnny Smith. Here’s a review of the Season 4 boxed set.

News From The Dead Zone #16

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

John Mellencamp reports that he and King are still looking for a director for their musical The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. “What we will do is take it to Chicago or the equivalent and workshop it — get the kinks out before we try to take it to Broadway,” Mellencamp told the Bloomington Herald-Times. “Elton John opened his musical in San Francisco, and it lasted all of seven days before they closed it down and decided to rework it. When we hit Broadway, we want it ready from day one.”

Trisha McFarland is over her ordeal of being lost in the woods. However, according to an interview in the Philadelphia Daily News, “I had to go into counseling right around Christmas in 2003, when I was 14,” she said. “That’s when Tom Gordon signed as a free agent with the [censored] Yankees.” According to the parody, “She used a scatological modifier commonly used by all Red Sox fans over age 6 to describe their mortal baseball enemy.” For the record, Trish can breath easier now that Gordon plays for the Phillies.

Here is Scribner’s copy for Lisey’s Story. Read at your own peril!

Lisey Debusher Landon lost her husband Scott two years ago, after a twenty five year marriage of the most profound and sometimes frightening intimacy. Lisey knew there was a place Scott went—a place that both terrified and healed him, could eat him alive or give him the ideas he needed in order to live. Now it’s Lisey’s turn to face Scott’s demons, Lisey’s turn to go to Boo’ya Moon. What begins as a widow’s effort to sort through the papers of her celebrated husband becomes a nearly fatal journey into the darkness he inhabited.Perhaps King’s most personal and powerful novel ever, Lisey’s Story is about the wellspings of creativity, the temptations of madness, and the secret language of love.

Mick Garris talks to MovieHole about upcoming projects, including Desperation. I watched the movie last weekend and boy did Garris ever nail this one. It will be very interesting to see how it is received by the general public, because it doesn’t shy away at all from the religiousness of the novel, the debate between David Carver’s unflinching faith and Johnny Marinville’s lack thereof.

If there’s a star in the movie, it’s Tom Skerritt as Johnny. A terrific performance. The rest of the cast is decent: Charles Durning as the town drunk is another notable. Steven Weber is okay–he gets better as the movie progressess, Kelly Overton makes a good Cynthia Smith though she doesn’t match my visualization of the character, and Ron Perlman is a hoot as Collie Entragian, vacillating between lucidity and insanity. Matt Frewer is uncharacteristically restrained as David’s father. The actress who plays his mother is bitchy and strident and I wasn’t sorry when things didn’t work out so well for her.

The film doesn’t flinch from violence, either. There are shocking scenes and real gross out moments the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen on broadcast TV. I’ll have more to say about Desperation in the near future, but let me close by saying it had me glued to the screen. Commercials will abound of course, which might dilute the impact (my screener DVD had brief blank gaps to show where they will come), but hold on for a heckuva ride.

News From The Dead Zone #9

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

According to several online TV listings, King will be on Late Night With Conan O’Brien tonight. Other guests include Ricky Gervais and Nickel Creek. I’m not sure if this is a new episode or a rerun of a previous appearance. Check your local listing for time and station.

Nicholas Sparks has this to say about King’s upcoming novel: “Lisey’s Story is a wondrous novel of marriage, a love story steeped in strength and tenderness, and cast with the most vivid, touching and believable characters in recent literature. I came to adore Lisey Landon and her sisters, I ached for Scott and all he’d been through, and when I finally reached the bittersweet and heartfelt conclusion, my first thought was that I wanted to start over again from the beginning, for it felt as if were saying good-bye to old friends. This is Stephen King at his finest and most generous, a dazzling novel that you’ll thank yourself for reading long after the final page is turned.”

Check out an interview with my buddy Glenn Chadbourne at Lilja’s Library.

News From The Dead Zone #2

Breaking News from the Dead Zone

Happy New Year, readers. Those of you who ordered the limited edition of The Road to the Dark Tower should be seeing your copies soon if you haven’t received them already. Cemetery Dance is shipping copies as fast as they can pack ’em, and I’ve heard from people who’ve been notified by Amazon that their orders are being filled, too. I’m delighted at how the book turned out. The design is wonderful and I’m especially fond of the Tarot card endpapers.

I’m not much one to look back at the end of the year, or make resolutions or anything like that. However, since he started doing his column for Entertainment Weekly, King has done best-of lists for films, books and music from the previous year. Here are the columns that feature his lists:

If you haven’t heard about The Secretary of Dreams yet, then you’ve missed out on the chance to get a lettered or numbered edition, unless stray copies turn up between now and publication, which is anticipated sometime in the first half of the year. The graphic short story collection, illustrated by my buddy Glenn Chadbourne (who worked with us on The Illustrated Stephen King Trivia Book and illustrated The Road to the Dark Tower) adapts “The Road Virus Heads North,” “Uncle Otto’s Truck,” “The Rainy Season,” “The Reach,” “Jerusalem’s Lot,” and “Home Delivery.” What’s unique about these adaptations is that every word of the original stories is conserved. Check out the sample illustrations starting here and working your way through the six stories. Even better news: this is Volume I, which means Glenn will be working on a follow-up this year. This is going to be a gorgeous production that I’m looking forward to seeing.

I haven’t had a chance to work my completely through Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished yet, but I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen and read so far. I was surprised to rediscover how many of King’s stories had been substantially revised on repeat publications. Rocky Wood does a yeoman’s job of chronicling all these updates and revisions and makes me want to go back and reread stories in their original forms.

I’ve updated the Guide to Identifying First Editions, which appears on King’s official web page. It’s now current through The Colorado Kid and corrects a few errors and omissions in the original version.

King wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in response to a review of a D. H. Lawrence biography. He chastises the reviewer for thinking that a person may be “better able to understand a great writer by reading about him than by reading him.” It’s a riff on the line from Different Seasons: “It is the tale, not he who tells it,” which King updates by saying, “The writer’s rainbow is always found in his work.”

I’m putting the finishing touches on my column for Cemetery Dance magazine issue #55, with in depth coverage of Cell, which I read last week. I’ll have more to say about the book here as publication date approaches. If Richard Bachman hadn’t died before cell phones became part of our culture, this might have had his name on the cover. It’s a dark, gritty, pessimistic novel in many ways and stands in stark contrast to the fundamental optimism of The Stand. I’ll not say more on that subject until more of you have had a chance to read the book. Keep an eye out for the names of the headmaster of Gaiten Academy and a gentleman in a Miami Dolphins hat who appears late in the story. The Publishers Weekly review is online at Amazon. It’s relatively spoiler-free and concludes, “King’s imagining of what is more or less post-Armageddon Boston is rich, and the sociological asides made by his characters along the way…are jaunty and witty. The novel’s three long set pieces are all pretty gory, but not gratuitously so, and the book holds together in signature King style.”

Here is an interesting article about King’s appearance at the New Yorker festival last fall from the Sydney Morning Herald. Note the following snippet, which is surely the genesis of Cell.

King told a story about leaving a New York hotel to get a coffee one morning about six years ago. “A lady under the canopy was on her cell phone and the doorman was getting someone a cab. I thought, what if she got this message on her cell phone that she could not deny and she had to attack everyone she saw – and she started with the doorman, she ripped his throat out.”

The Scribner edition of Cell contains a sneak peak at Lisey’s Story. The first twelve pages of the book are presented in King’s own handwriting. The excerpt is not the same as what we’ve previously seen in “Lisey and the Madman.” The opening chapter is called “Lisey and Amanda (Everything the Same)” and deals with Lisey Landon two years after the death of her famous writer husband Scott. She’s finally going through his writing office, trying to decide what to do about his unpublished works. Amanda is her older sister, and there seems to be tension between the two. My feeling is that this book will be in the Bag of Bones vein.

Each time I update this online column, I’m going to tackle a FAQ, which comes either from questions I see on King’s message board or ones directed to me via e-mail.

Q: Does King have any plans to complete “The Plant”?

A: The short answer is: “It’s not on his to-do list at the moment.” When King stopped work after finishing Book One: Zenith Rising, he said that he felt like he was pushing the story instead of having it pull him along. That’s never a good feeling. My guess is that until the day comes when the story recaptures his imagination and sweeps him up again, “The Plant” will stay in its current state. Who knows? Someday a few years from now he may find new wind to breath life into the story. Those of us who bore with the Dark Tower series for two decades have learned patience toward the storyteller.

Have news, information, corrections? E-mail me!