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Bag of Bones  
Bagofbones.gif
First edition cover
Author Stephen King
Cover artist Frank Oudeman
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror novel
Publisher Scribner
Publication date September 22, 1998
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 660
ISBN 0684853507
Preceded by Desperation
Followed by The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Bag of Bones is a 1998 novel by Stephen King. Its themes include the trials of the writing process (the main character, Mike Noonan, has writer's block), the power of memory (the ghosts of Noonan's past as well as the ghosts of Sara Laughs, the lakeside house to which he moves) and the ghosts lurking close behind the everyday and the mundane. A human element, however, is the struggle of a young widow and her daughter to stay away from the grip of Max Devore, the power-mad figurehead of the community.

Bag of Bones won the British Fantasy Award in 1999.[1]

Contents

Plot introduction

After the sudden death of his wife Jo, author Mike Noonan is plagued by writer's block; with his dreams haunted by the summer house he shared with her, he reluctantly decides to return to the isolated lakeside retreat.

There he finds his once-beloved township in the grip of the powerful millionaire Max Devore, who twists this small community to his own purpose, attempting to take his young granddaughter away from her widowed young mother. As Mike is drawn into their struggle, he falls in love with both of them and is further drawn into the mystery of this ghostly, unusual town.

Plot summary

The narrator, Mike Noonan, is an author living in Derry, Maine who suffers from severe writer's block after the death of his wife, Johanna (called Jo), from an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. Particularly disquieting to Mike is that his wife had just bought a home pregnancy test, but never revealed the pregnancy to him. He anguishes after his wife's death and finds himself unable to write due to panic attacks; fortunately, he has four unpublished manuscripts stashed in a safe deposit box and uses them to keep his agent and editor unaware of his problem.

Four years after Jo's death, Mike begins to experience nightmares set at his summer house in TR-90, an unregistered township in Maine. He decides to confront his fears and moves to the house, known to locals as Sara Laughs. On one particular day, Mike encounters a small child, Kyra Devore, walking down the middle of the road. Mike worries that something might happen to the child if she continues walking like that, so he scoops her up and returns to his car with her. A moment later, Kyra's mother, Mattie Devore comes flying up the road in her old jeep. Mike's initial reaction is that Mattie is a "white trash" mom who will yell at the child and possibly beat it due to her own inattentions, but he is pleasantly surprised when Mattie clutches the child for dear life and begs her never to run off again. Mattie asks Mike not to say anything about this; they talk for a few minutes and Mattie drives off.

Later, while in town, Mike learns from the locals that Mattie's late husband, Lance, was the son of Max Devore, a rich and influential man from the town who didn't approve of his son's marriage to Mattie. Max, now well into his 80's and bound to a wheelchair, wants custody of his granddaughter, and is using his money and influence to paint Mattie as an irresponsible mother. Through his caretaker, Bill, Mike learns of Mattie's past, her marriage and custody woes.

When Max finds out that Mike ran into Mattie and Kyra, he threatens him via telephone. Despite the threats, or perhaps because of them, Mike hires John Storrow, a custody lawyer, for Mattie as an act of kindness, and he gradually develops feelings for Mattie, despite the almost twenty-year age difference between them. Through his various crooked connections, Max manages to drag Mike into the custody battle even further by forcing him to make a deposition for the impending custody hearing. Accompanied by a local lawyer, Romeo Bisonette, Mike makes the custody lawyer hired by Devore look foolish by beating him at his own game and calling his bluff.

Mike begins to write again, while both Kyra and Mike experience hauntings in their homes. The author realizes that the ghost of Jo is assisting him in solving the mystery of Sara Tidwell, a blues singer whose spirit is haunting Mike's house. Mike asks the locals what happened to Sara Tidwell, and is warned to refrain from digging in old scandals. He also learns that Jo frequently returned to the town in the year before her death, without telling him.

Max Devore threatens Mike again, and in an encounter with Mike, Max and his personal assistant, Rogette, almost succeed in drowning him. It's only due to the help from his wife's spirit that he's able to survive the attack. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Max Devore commits suicide, which seemingly leaves Mattie and Kyra free from his influence.

Mike, Mattie, John, Romeo Bissonette (Mike's lawyer from his deposition) and George (a detective that helped Romeo with the trial), are having a party when two gunners make a drive-by shooting and hit nearly everyone in sight- Mattie fatally in the head, John in the ankle, Romeo in the shoulder and George in the arm and thigh. George takes out a pistol he's carrying and shoots at the car, rupturing the fuel tank, breaking the rear window, blowing out the rear tire and hitting the driver, which causes them to crash into a ditch, igniting the leaking gasoline. Mike, the only adult not hit, takes Kyra back to Sara Laughs as a huge storm breaks. He's acting under the influence of the ghost of Sara Tidwell and finds himself preparing to drown Kyra and commit suicide himself, going so far as to give Kyra cocoa and Benadryl to make her sleep, and drawing the bath. But there are still pieces to the mystery that Mike doesn't understand, and the ghost of Jo is trying to prevent him from doing what he's doing.

Jo's spirit calls Mike's attention to a novel he has begun to write. Hidden in the pages are clues that clarify some of the mysteries that have confronted him in the house. As Kyra sleeps, Mike goes to Jo's studio to search for answers. He discovers documents that Jo had hidden away before her death, among them a genealogy showing Mike's blood relationship to one of the town families. Several families had firstborn children with "K" names who had been murdered or died under suspicious circumstances. The genealogy shows that Mike and Jo's child (who was going to be named Kia) would've been the next firstborn child with a "K" name in the family line, had she been born.

Mike realizes this must be Sara Tidwell's curse for something that had been done to her. He returns to the house, checks on the still-sleeping Kyra and drains the bath meant for her drowning. He can feel Sara's influence, urging him to take Kyra to the lake, but he fights it off. He leaves the house once more with a shovel and a bottle of lye to search for Sara's grave, knowing that the only way to break the curse and keep Kyra safe is to destroy Sara's bones. On his way to where he suspects Sara is buried, the ghosts of Max Devore's grandfather and several members of the old families, attempt to thwart his progress. Mike learns in a vision that these men had viciously raped and killed Sara, and drowned her son Kito in the lake; furthermore, all the "K" children who have died were descendants of those men. Mike makes it to the gravesite, but Sara's ghost doesn't want the curse ended prematurely. She tries to stop Mike, and starts to assume corporeal form to do so. Jo appears in corporeal form herself and tells Mike he must hurry, as Sara has been taken over by an "Outsider" to harm Mike and prevent him from reaching Sara's bones. Jo struggles to fight off the Outsider while Mike digs up and destroys Sara's bones with the lye, ending the curse.

Returning to the house, Mike discovers that Max Devore's assistant Rogette has kidnapped Kyra. Mike follows Kyra and Rogette to a neighboring property, arriving just as Kyra bites Rogette and attempts to flee onto a floating dock heaving in the waves from the storm. Mike tries to hit Rogette and keep her away from Kyra when Mattie's ghost appears and knocks Rogette into the lake. Rogette tries to pull Mike in with her, but is impaled by wreckage from the dock. Mattie's ghost says her goodbyes to Mike and Kyra, tells Kyra that she's now Mike's "little guy".

The novel ends with an epilogue in which readers are told that Mike has retired from writing and is attempting to adopt Kyra. His status as a single, unrelated male complicates things, and the adoption has taken longer than Mike anticipated. Still, the state has allowed Mike to visit Kyra, and she has been allowed overnight stays with him. The outcome of the adoption is left unresolved at the end of the novel, but the reader is given hope that it will be a positive outcome.

Connection to King's other works

  • Ralph Roberts, the main character from Insomnia, appears briefly in the novel. Ironically, during his appearance he asks Mike Noonan if he suffers from insomnia. Noonan also notes Roberts's death, as described in Insomnia's epilogue. Joe Wyzer, also from Insomnia, appears briefly in the novel.
  • Ray Garraty, the main character from The Long Walk, is mentioned in the novel. However, there's no indication this is the same Ray Garraty; this Ray Garraty is a character in a novel Noonan is working on during his stay at Sara Laughs.
  • Mike Noonan reads books by Bill Denbrough, including It.
  • Sara Laughs is located on Dark Score Lake, from Gerald's Game.
  • Mike Noonan lives in Derry, the setting for It and Insomnia.
  • Thad Beaumont, from The Dark Half, is mentioned as having killed himself.
  • Norris Ridgewick, sheriff of Castle Rock, shows up at Mike's door. Mike asks about former sheriff Alan Pangborn, and Norris mentions Polly Chalmers. All three were central characters in Needful Things.
  • Jared Devore, Max's ancestor, mentions Shawshank Prison.
  • Sara Laughs is the twinner to Cara Laughs, a location in The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower.
  • Lisey's Story, King's 2006 novel, mentions a Mike Noonan novel, but not the outcome of his adoption of Kyra.
  • TR-90 is the location of Kashwak in King's novel Cell.
  • The importance of 19, a number of talismanic power in The Dark Tower series, is introduced here.
  • A woman Mike meets in the gym is said to be reading a book by Ellen Gilchrist; this is the maiden name of Ellen Rimbauer (Rose Red)

Awards

British Fantasy Award winner in 1999[1] Bram Stoker Award winner for Best Novel in 1998[2]

Audio version

The audio version of Bag of Bones is noteworthy in several respects. Like all Stephen King books, the audio version is unabridged. It is read by Stephen King himself, one several books he has read himself for audio version publication, including Hearts in Atlantis, Lunch at the Gotham Cafe, and In the Deathroom. Intermingled with the text are bits of music and a song sung by Sara Tidwell; this music and song were recorded specifically for the audio version of Bag of Bones. Finally, the audio version of this book includes an interview with Stephen King.

Tenth Anniversary Edition

Bag of Bones:
Tenth Anniversary Edition  
Bag of Bones 10th.jpg
Author Stephen King
Cover artist Frank Oudeman
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror novel
Publisher Scribner
Publication date October 21, 2008
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 660
ISBN ISBN 1439106215

A trade paperback edition was published in the fall of 2008, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the novel's release in 1998. It contained a Q&A with Stephen King, along with "The Cat from Hell", a short story from his then-upcoming collection Just After Sunset.

Film Adaption

A film directed by Mick Garris and written by screenwriter Matt Venne is in pre-production.[3] The filmmakers had been hoping to shoot the film in Maine, but due to the failure of a proposed tax incentive in June, they are now far less likely to do so. Michigan is far more likely to be the next place to shoot.[4]

References

External links


Bag of Bones  
Author Stephen King
Cover artist Frank Oudeman
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror novel
Publisher Scribner
Publication date September 22, 1998
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 660
ISBN 0684853507
Preceded by Desperation
Followed by The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Bag of Bones is a 1998 novel by Stephen King. It won the British Fantasy Award in 1999.[1]

Contents

Plot summary

The narrator, Mike Noonan, an author living in Derry, Maine, suffers from severe writer's block after the death of his wife, Johanna (called Jo), from an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. His unborn child died as well; which further exacerbates his writer's block. Fortunately Mike has four unpublished manuscripts that will hide his problems for a time.

Four years after Jo's death, Mike begins to experience nightmares set at his summer house in TR-90, an unregistered township in Maine. He decides to confront his fears and moves to the house, known to locals as Sara Laughs. Mike finds Kyra, a young girl, walking down the road on her own.He brings her back to safety and her mother, twenty-one year old Mattie Devore.

Mike learns from his caretaker Bill that Mattie's father-in-law is Max Devore, an elderly rich man who will do anything to gain custody of his granddaughter. Kyra's father, Lance, has died. Max learns of Mike and threatens him over the situation. The writer hires John Storrow, a custody lawyer, for Mattie; Mike is seemingly developing feelings for her. Invited to dinner, Mike gets to know Mattie and Kyra, and learns more about their situation. In passing, Mattie repeats a remark once made to her by Max Devore, implying that the two men's great-grandfathers were associates. Mike is puzzled by this, since his family came from points quite distant from TR-90.

Max manages to drag Mike into the custody battle even further by forcing him to make a deposition for the impending custody hearing. Accompanied by a local lawyer, Romeo Bissonette, Mike makes the custody lawyer hired by Devore look foolish by beating him at his own game and calling his bluff.

Mike begins to write again, while both Kyra and Mike experience hauntings in their homes. The author realizes that the ghost of Jo is assisting him in solving the mystery of Sara Tidwell, a blues singer whose spirit is haunting Mike's house. Mike asks the locals what happened to Sara Tidwell, and is warned to refrain from digging in old scandals. He also learns that Jo frequently returned to the town in the year before her death, without telling him.

Max Devore threatens Mike again, and in an encounter with Mike, Max and his personal assistant, Rogette, almost succeed in drowning him. It's only due to the help from his wife's spirit that he is able to survive the attack. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, Max Devore commits suicide, which seemingly leaves Mattie and Kyra free from his influence. Throughout the novel, Mike experiences psychic phenomena. He has complex dreams of Sara Tidwell, Mattie and Jo; he speaks on the phone with Mattie and can tell not only what she is wearing, but what she is thinking. As the story progresses, Mike is increasingly "in the zone." After Devore's death, Mike is plagued by uneasy feelings on behalf of Mattie. The approaching storm is symbolic of this hovering dread. Clues gradually appear, provided by Jo, while Sara Tidwell's spirit fights to keep him from learning the truth. He begins to understand some of it when he notices how many names of local inhabitants begin with a "K" or "C." He learns how relatives of several people he knows in town have drowned in childhood.

Mike, Mattie, John, Romeo Bissonette (Mike's lawyer from his deposition) and George (a detective that helped Romeo with the trial), are having a party when two gunners make a drive-by shooting and hit nearly everyone in sight- Mattie fatally in the head, John in the shoulder, Romeo in the ankle and George in the arm and thigh. George takes out a pistol he's carrying and shoots at the car, rupturing the fuel tank, breaking the rear window, blowing out the rear tire and hitting the driver, which causes them to crash into a ditch, igniting the leaking gasoline. Mike, the only adult not hit, takes Kyra back to Sara Laughs as a huge storm breaks. He's acting under the influence of the ghost of Sara Tidwell and finds himself preparing to drown Kyra and commit suicide himself, going so far as to give Kyra cocoa and Benadryl to make her sleep, and drawing the bath. But there are still pieces to the mystery that Mike doesn't understand, and the ghost of Jo is trying to prevent him from doing what he's doing.

Jo's spirit calls Mike's attention to a novel he has begun to write. Hidden in the pages are clues that clarify some of the mysteries that have confronted him in the house. As Kyra sleeps, Mike goes to Jo's studio to search for answers. He discovers documents that Jo had hidden away before her death, among them a genealogy showing Mike's blood relationship to one of the town families. Several families had firstborn children with "K" names who had been murdered or died under suspicious circumstances. The genealogy shows that Mike and Jo's child (who was going to be named Kia) would've been the next firstborn child with a "K" name in the family line, had she been born.

Mike realizes this must be Sara Tidwell's curse for something that had been done to her. He returns to the house, checks on the still-sleeping Kyra and drains the bath meant for her drowning. He can feel Sara's influence, urging him to take Kyra to the lake, but he fights it off. He leaves the house once more with a shovel and a bottle of lye to search for Sara's grave, knowing that the only way to break the curse and keep Kyra safe is to destroy Sara's bones. On his way to where he suspects Sara is buried, the ghosts of Max Devore's grandfather and several members of the old families, attempt to thwart his progress. Mike learns in a vision that these men had viciously raped and killed Sara, and drowned her son Kito in the lake; furthermore, all the "K" children who have died were descendants of those men. Mike makes it to the gravesite, but Sara's ghost doesn't want the curse ended prematurely. She tries to stop Mike, and starts to assume corporeal form to do so. Jo appears in corporeal form herself and tells Mike he must hurry, as Sara has been taken over by an "Outsider" to harm Mike and prevent him from reaching Sara's bones. Jo struggles to fight off the Outsider while Mike digs up and destroys Sara's bones with the lye, ending the curse.

Returning to the house, Mike discovers that Max Devore's assistant Rogette has kidnapped Kyra, attempting to complete Sara's task. Mike follows Kyra and Rogette to a neighboring property, arriving just as Kyra bites Rogette and attempts to flee onto a floating dock heaving in the waves from the storm. Discovering the last mystery surrounding Sara's curse, Mike tries to hit Rogette and keep her away from Kyra. Mattie's ghost appears and knocks Rogette into the lake. Rogette tries to pull Mike in with her, but is impaled by wreckage from the dock. Mattie's ghost says her goodbyes to Mike and Kyra, tells Kyra that she's now Mike's "little guy".

The novel ends with an epilogue in which readers are told that Mike has retired from writing and is attempting to adopt Kyra. His status as a single, unrelated male complicates things, and the adoption has taken longer than Mike anticipated. Still, the state has allowed Mike to visit Kyra, and she has been allowed overnight stays with him. The outcome of the adoption is left unresolved at the end of the novel, but the reader is given hope that it will be a positive outcome.

Connection to King's other works

  • Ralph Roberts, the main character from Insomnia, appears briefly in the novel. Ironically, during his appearance he asks Mike Noonan if he suffers from insomnia. Noonan also notes Roberts's death, as described in Insomnia's epilogue. Joe Wyzer, also from Insomnia, appears briefly in the novel.
  • Ray Garraty, the main character from The Long Walk, is mentioned in the novel. However, there's no indication this is the same Ray Garraty; this Ray Garraty is a character in a novel Noonan is working on during his stay at Sara Laughs.
  • Mike Noonan reads books by Bill Denbrough, including It.
  • Sara Laughs is located on Dark Score Lake, from Gerald's Game.
  • Mike Noonan lives in Derry, the setting for It and Insomnia.
  • Thad Beaumont, from The Dark Half, is mentioned as having killed himself.
  • Norris Ridgewick, sheriff of Castle Rock, shows up at Mike's door. Mike asks about former sheriff Alan Pangborn, and Norris mentions Polly Chalmers. All three were central characters in Needful Things.
  • Jared Devore, Max's ancestor, mentions Shawshank Prison.
  • Sara Laughs is the twinner to Cara Laughs, a location in The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower.
  • Lisey's Story, King's 2006 novel, mentions a Mike Noonan novel, but not the outcome of his adoption of Kyra.
  • TR-90 is the location of Kashwak in King's novel Cell. It is also mentioned as a near by town in King's novel "Under the Dome"
  • The importance of 19, a number of talismanic power in The Dark Tower series, is introduced here.
  • A woman Mike meets in the gym is said to be reading a book by Ellen Gilchrist; this is the maiden name of Ellen Rimbauer (Rose Red).

Awards

British Fantasy Award winner in 1999[1] Bram Stoker Award winner for Best Novel in 1998[2]

Audio version

The audio version of Bag of Bones is noteworthy in several respects. Like all Stephen King books, the audio version is unabridged. It is read by Stephen King himself, one of several books he has read himself for audio version publication, including Hearts in Atlantis, Lunch at the Gotham Cafe, and In the Deathroom. Intermingled with the text are bits of music and a song sung by Sara Tidwell; this music and song were recorded specifically for the audio version of Bag of Bones. Finally, the audio version of this book includes an interview with Stephen King.

Tenth Anniversary Edition

Bag of Bones:
Tenth Anniversary Edition  
Author Stephen King
Cover artist Frank Oudeman
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Horror novel
Publisher Scribner
Publication date October 21, 2008
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 660
ISBN ISBN 1439106215

A trade paperback edition was published in the fall of 2008, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the novel's release in 1998. It contained a Q&A with Stephen King, along with "The Cat from Hell", a short story from his then-upcoming collection Just After Sunset.

Film adaption

A film directed by Mick Garris and written by screenwriter Matt Venne is in pre-production.[3] The filmmakers had been hoping to shoot the film in Maine, but due to the failure of a proposed tax incentive in June, they are now far less likely to do so. Michigan is far more likely to be the next place to shoot.[4]

References

External links








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