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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
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
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
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.