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Media Review : Books

The Dark Half by Stephen King
Paperback ISBN 0-451-16731-7
$7.99, published in 1990 by Signet
Review by Jason of the Hondas.


The Nitty Gritty:

The main characters:

Thad Beaumont, a struggling writer whose novels meet with mostly failure. He has a wife and two children, and is a decent, law-abiding citizen. His novels are written with a typewriter.
George Stark, another writer. He is a huge success, writing novels that make the bestseller list. He has a straight-razor, and enjoys using it. George uses Berol Black Beauty pencils to scrawl his works.


I rooted for the bad guy.

What? You're surprised? You really shouldn't be... and I doubt you'd react differently upon reading this novel. The crux of the matter is that George Stark and Thad Beaumont, while being twins, somehow share part of the same mind. Thad is able to channel George when he wishes to write.

This is not to say that Thad can't write on his own. No, no. Thad is perfectly capable of doing so, but it simply isn't as good as what George writes. George has what is described as a "darkness" within him, a sort of maggoty rot within his soul that allows him to write about murderers and organized crime gangs led by a man who likes to watch blood flow.

George's novels sell much better than Thad's.

Why does George have a darkness inside? Why is he, as says on his car's bumper sticker, a High Toned Son of a Bitch? Why does Thad refer to him as Not a Very Nice Guy? For starters, George enjoys cutting people. He carves a great number of people through the course of the story into shapes that you will never find at your mother's Thanksgiving table. As for the "maggoty rot," I mean this literally: George is rotting on the outside, sickening and falling apart. Thad must commune with him, teach him how to write again, or he will die. The only way for George to relearn to write, and to continue to exist, is to take over Thad's body.

This is not nearly as strange as the book's central premise. The author claims that George and Thad were twins, but the strong Thad-embryo engulfed the weak George-embryo and absorbed it into his own self. At the age of eleven, when Thad's writing abilities began to emerge, George actually begins to grow again inside Thad's brain. A neurologist manages to scrape the foreign tissue out of Thad's head, but George is once again summoned back to reality when Thad, as a struggling writer with no successes, subconsciously wishes him back to life

After a number of George's novels become bestsellers, Thad decides to "bury" his "pen name," even staging a fake burial for a magazine photo shoot. George, as you may imagine, is not happy.

Can you blame him? Thad only owes his livelihood and success to his brother, and discards him like a rag when he decides that he no longer needs him. I was on George's side through the course of the story, hoping that he would claim the acknowledgment, the very -existence,- that he deserves.

But George is a Bad Guy, George is a lunatic who likes to kill people, so of course it is George who dies in the end, ripped apart by sparrows who ferret his soul back to the land of the dead.

Those of us who do have darkness inside of us, who are unapologetic for the less-than-savory elements of ourselves, are quite justified at bristling at this treatment of George Stark. Therefore, each and every one of us should be outraged, since we all have a secret side of ourselves. We all contain an element of this darkness. Yet what happens to poor George, who contains nothing but this darkness in another attempt to stereotype plurality into a good cop/bad cop farce?

Final Result:

Everyone who reads this book should be squirming at the idea that Wrong and Right are so clearly defined, and that those classified as Wrong should be ripped alive and dragged off screaming. For if it were so, every one of us would suffer the same fate.