July 5th, 2007

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My Little Lisey

So, last night, Trista and I finished reading Stephen King's Lisey's Story (pronounced Lee-see's Story, if you're curious), and it's a heart breaker. [Semi-Humorous aside: For the longest time -- since Hearts in Atlantis came out, so 1999(?) -- Trista has bought me SK's newest books when they come out. "Happy Stephen King day" she says. When this one was coming (October last year), I didn't think she'd heard about it, so I ordered it. Turns out she had heard, and we both bought each other copies. Aren't we just so cuuuuuute? Well, we sent one copy back and kept the other.] She's been reading it to me aloud, since the night we got it. Until last night, that is, when I read sections of it aloud to her (notebook entries from a deceased husband character). Best audio book I've ever heard, by the way (her reading, not mine).

It's a beautiful story, often touching, occasionally chilling and just about perfect. At its heart, Lisey's tale is one of passing through grief. The eponymous character's famous hubby, an award winning writer named Scott Landon, has been dead for a couple of years, and widow Lisey is still mired in mourning. Over the course of the work, she comes to understand a bit more about him -- because in life, we never completely understand another human being; in death, it's not much easier, but the time and distance can occasionally allow us the chance to see things a bit more clearly -- and puts him to rest. This is very much a ghost story (without the Boo-jum tropes often associated with such a work) and something of a dark fantasy (there's a parallel, spiritual world in here called Boo'ya Moon), but it's also more: it's a peek into a very good marriage. Not perfect, mind you (but what marriage is?), but as damn close as it is possible to find in this world.

As someone who's been handfasted going on eight years this November (startling but true!), I think I know a thing or two about good and bad marriages. I've got one of the best, (then again, I'm biased), but I've seen more than my share of others' lousy ones.

One of the things the novel really hits on, and hits on well, is the importance of really sharing a life. To do that properly, one must always keep a part that's just for you, because though all the ballads say otherwise, sharing times do end, and often we who share are left alone. Holding back something private is something I haven't done too well. I suppose my writing is for me (well, mostly for me). However, I am well aware of how quickly my life would collapse if I didn't have hntrpyanfar in my life. Oh, I wouldn't just keel over and die, but I'd certainly be devastated (pondering this devastation has fueled quite a bit of the horror in my stories; it's one of the two things that truly, deeply, personally terrifies me). All the greatest moments of the last eight-plus years, she's shared in. Cosmos willing, there's plenty more years of ups and downs she will share in.

Did you know I've only seriously considered divorce once in my life? That was earlier this year, at that pretty rough time when I was coming to terms with my spending addiction. She, of course, was the instigator of this little bout with self realization (my own Hour of the Wolf). And I hated her for it. "I'll show her. I don't need her." Lucky for me, cold sobriety showed up shortly after. If I didn't comprehend how much of a problem I had before that little consideration, then that nailed it pretty effectively. Divorce? Was I crazy? Why, yes, Anastasia. I was. Nutty as a fruitbat in a produce aisle.

And, yet, I digress.

I was talking about Stephen King's latest fiction... Not really his latest, since a new novel has only just appeared at Borders (actually it's one of his early as-yet-unpublished works, now appearing under his Richard Bachman pseudonym).

It addresses so many topics. The language of marrieds (every couple has its own cypher, each quite unique), where stories come from, how much of a role the unseen people can play in a public figure's life, the question of legacy, of letting go but holding back enough, what love really is (past the goofy flowers and the cutesy cards and candy and Hallmark/Valentine's Day horse puckey) and, of course, the importance (particularly for writers) of spouses.

My wife is not just like Lisey Landon (amongst many other reasons, Trista doesn't have a gaggle of sisters -- so she doesn't do that 'sister thing' -- nor is she from Maine), but they share similar qualities: they're both strong, smart, resourceful. My "Little Lisey" (one of Scott's nicknames for his wife, as well as Babyluv) helps me find my own strength. Perhaps she hasn't quite saved my life in the literal fashion that Lisey Landon saved her hubby (who, armed with a silver trophy shovel, disarmed a loony gunman at a social mixer), but she has in her own (metaphorical) ways. I dunno if I communicate how much I appreciate her (I dunno if I ever can), but I try. I know she appreciate me (even those terrible times I tickle-torment her mercilessly), probably more than I deserve.

I am surrounded, it seems, with media takes on marriage that I cannot really connect with. The image of marriage/commitment as something to be feared, something somehow detrimental to artistic ability or individuality or... They treat it like it's a weird combination of slavery and death (playing to the misguided preconceptions of their target audience of single teenagers, I suppose)... Very few things piss me off as easily as that. Because my marriage isn't like that. Not even remotely. Lisey's Story I can relate to; the rest of that stuff, I can't.

I think The Shining just got outed from my number one SK novel slot. I'm pretty sure my reader had a little something to do with that.

-- DRR2
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