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The Dark Half by Stephen King
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The Dark Half (original 1989; edition 1990)

by Stephen King

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5,29138836 (3.54)79
Member:karenwodke
Title:The Dark Half
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1990), Edition: First Thus, Mass Market Paperback, 496 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:horror

Work details

The Dark Half by Stephen King (1989)

  1. 30
    Dead City by Shane Stevens (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: In his afterward to The Dark Half, King explains that he took the character of Alexis Machine from Stevens' Dead City
  2. 10
    A Soul to Steal by Rob Blackwell (Othemts)
  3. 10
    The Crime Writer by Gregg Hurwitz (VictoriaPL)
    VictoriaPL: Another writer who has trouble figuring out if he's involved in a series of murders or not.
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English (35)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
While I still enjoyed this book quite a bit, it did not hold up on the re-read as well as I remembered it. The premise of an author's abandoned pseudonym coming back from the grave to claim it's own glory is still rather awesome and I find this to be an extremely entertaining story, but it's not nearly as riveting as I had in mind. Thad Beaumont and the rest of the cast of characters are fantastic as is par for the course for almost any King novel and I would read stories about his characters even if the storylines weren't as good as King's usually tend to be.

The Dark Half is a fast-paced book and keeps the reader going by the sheer force of the crazy events taking place in Thad Beaumont's life. In this case, I almost felt that things were happening a bit to fast and crazy at times and that I needed to slow it down a bit myself in order to better enjoy the novel as a whole. Maybe it's because I HAD read this one before, but at times the pace almost seemed to be a bit overwhelming and I just wanted some sort of an aside to calm things down for a little bit.

Overall, a very enjoyable novel (even on the re-read) and one that I'll pick up again one day down the road. ( )
  StefanY | Mar 4, 2015 |
Stephen King aficionados might get a kick out of this geekgasm disguised as a review. It's not all new info, but I didn't know about Guy Pilsbury. If you know who that is (or should have been), you get a cookie.

Also, I cannot promise there won't be spoilers, but I will try my best.

Okay, we're all clear that Stephen King once wrote under the pen name Richard Bachman, right? Good. And if you didn't know, now you know. Bachman is probably one of the most famous pseudonyms ever created. King didn't do a very good job of hiding the fact that he was Bachman, though, because most people thought Bachman was ripping off King, both in style and content. King simply wanted to publish more than once a year, and back then such epic feats of daring do just didn't happen. Publishers pubbed one book a year from an author because people read slower in the dark ages. Or some shit. I don't know. (The only jokes I got are bad ones...)

Which brings me to some really cool six-degrees-of-separation type goings-on within The Dark Half. Dig on this: Stephen King killed Richard Bachman in much the same way that Thad Beaumont kills off George Stark in this novel; by having a fake funeral for the guy. Bachman supposedly died of cancer, and is survived to this day by his wife Claudia Inez Bachman (a fictional woman who keeps finding manuscripts tucked away in the attic - The Regulators, Blaze). But, did you know that Richard Bachman was not always Richard Bachman? King's first choice for a pen name was Guy Pilsbury, which was also King's grandfather's name. Why did he change it? I'll get to that. First, let's discuss another author by the name of Donald E. Westlake.

Donald E. Westlake is mentioned in The Dark Half not only because Westlake had a famous pen name, but because King took part of that pen name to create his own. You see, during the copyright process, somebody mistakenly put King's name AND Guy Pilsbury's name on the paperwork, so the person submitting the paperwork had to call King. King had to come up with a new name on the fly. First name to come to mind was Westlake's, but not Westlake himself, Westlake's pen name, which was Richard Stark. At the time of the phone call, King was listening to Bachman Turner Overdrive, so he threw the two names together. Richard Bachman.

Now, fast forward to The Dark Half. The pen name that comes to life inside this book is George Stark. Richard Stark/Richard Bachman/George Stark. Obvious connections are obvious.

If you want to hear the Guy Pilsbury story yourself, here's the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ_S89fdg38

Anyfuck, I love this book because it's a fictionalized piece of King's life with a heavy dose of the weird and the supernatural piled on top. It's lean, mean, and far from clean. One of King's more brutal works. But, overall, it's simply big fun.

Notable names:
Alan Pangborn (Needful Things, which is up next)

In summation: If you're up on your King history, this book is a treat. Even if you're not, it's a damn good read. One of King's best. Highly recommended to long-time fans as well as newbies to the King-verse. ( )
  Edward.Lorn | Feb 13, 2015 |
Really bloody one -- good story, but fairly predictable ending. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 15, 2014 |
Middling Stephen King novel, interesting mainly for the issues around pseudonyms, which King also struggled with concerning his pseudonym Richard Bachman. This book had some interesting bits about brain tumors and also taught me about the phenomenon of absorbing a twin in utero, which I had never heard of before. Entertaining page-turner, but not among his best.

Read when the book was released (1989) and reviewed from memory. ( )
  sturlington | Jun 26, 2014 |
Thad Beaumont is a horror writer, but a normal guy. He has a family and lives a quiet life. It seems like Stephen King modeled Thad's character on himself.

Thad has recently retired a pseudonym, George Stark. Now Stark has come to life and is murdering anyone responsible for Stark's demise.
When Stark focuses on Thad and revive the pseudonym is when the story gets really suspenseful. ( )
  SebastianHagelstein | Jun 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rekiaro, IlkkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"Cut him," Machine said, "Cut him while I stand here and watch. I want to see the blood flow. Don't make me tell you twice."

-- Machine's Way

by George Stark
Dedication
This book is for Shirley Sonderegger, who helps me mind my business, and for her husband, Peter.
AUTHOR'S NOTE I'm indebted to the late Richard Bachman for his help and inspiration. This novel cound not have been written without him. S.K.
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People's lives -- their real lives, as opposed to their simple physical existences -- begin at different times.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Thad Beaumont would like to say he is innocent. He'd like to say he has nothing to do with the series of monstrous murders that keep coming closer to his home. He'd like to say he has nothing to do with the twisted imagination that produced his bestselling novels. He'd like to say he has nothing to do with the voice on the phone uttering its obscene threats and demanding total surrender. But how can Thad disown the ultimate embodiment of evil that goes by the name he gave it - and signs its crimes with Thad's bloody fingerprints? (0-451-16731-7)
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451167317, Mass Market Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:03 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Thad Beaumont, a writer of brutally violent novels, becomes a murder suspect when his pseudonym is linked to the killings.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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