20th-Century American Bestsellers


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ResearcherAuthor: Title
Tracy NectouxKing, Stephen and Peter Straub: The Talisman
Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description
1. First Edition Publication InformationStephen King and Peter Straub. The Talisman. New York: Viking Penguin, 1984.

“A special limited edition of this book was published by Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Rhode Island.”—T.p. verso.

The Talisman was published in a joint publishing agreement with Viking and G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Copyright: Stephen King and Peter Straub, 1984
2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?The first edition was published in quarter cloth binding.
3. Image of Cover Art A13191060215093121.jpg
4. Pagination328 leaves, pp. [i-ix] x [1-3] 4-10 [11] 12-22 [23] 24-39 [40] 41-54 [55] 56-67 [68] 69-76 [77-79] 80-88 [89] 90-119 [120] 121-129 [130] 131-149 [150] 151-160 [161] 162-173 [174] 175-179 [180] 181-196 [197] 198-208 [209] 210-222 [223] 224-228 [229] 230 [231] 232-240 [241] 242-257 [258] 259-278 [279-281] 282-292 [293] 294-303 [304] 305-318 [319] 320-330 [331] 332-338 [339] 340-348 [349] 350-371 [372] 373-380 [381] 382-391 [392] 393-395 [396] 397-400 [401] 402-409 [410] 411-423 [424] 425-431 [432-435] 436-449 [450] 451-453 [454] 455-480 [481] 482-496 [497] 498-519 [520] 521-525 [526] 527-537 [538] 539-550 [551] 552-555 [556] 557-568 [569] 570-582 [583] 584-590 [591] 592-603 [604] 605-621 [622] 623-632 [633] 634-644 [645-646]
5. Edited and/or Introduced? Includes advertisement for other works by Stephen King and Peter Straub (p. ii).

Dedication (p. v): This book is for | Ruth King | Elvena Straub

No editor or introduction.
6. Illustrated? The Talisman has no illustrations, but the title page is ornamented. The book is divided into four parts, with ornamentations introducing each part (pp. 1, 77, 279, 433). For a sample of the ornamentation, see section 13 of this assignment, below.
8. General AppearancePagination, typography, legibility are all excellent. Text typeface, including chapter titles and heading, is typeset in Garamond. Text, excluding chapter titles, is 12-pt. font.

Chapters are numbered and titled. Opening chapter initial capitals are dropped 4 lines.

Book contains five interludes, with Old English typeface introducing each interlude.

Book is divided into four parts, with Old English typeface and ornamentation introducing each part.

115R. Book size 254mm. by 153mm.
9. Image of Sample Chapter PageA19191060215195313.jpg
10. Description of PaperWhite, wove paper. Fore-edge is cut.

Book is printed on acid-free paper, and has no visible aging. It has held up beautifully, considering it is over 20 years old.
11. Description of BindingThe Talisman is quarter cloth bound.

Cover is gray (possibly faded from black), plain board, with no text or pictures.

Description of spine:

Spine is bound in red cloth. Title is stamped in gold ink with Old English typeface. Authors’ names are stamped in black ink with Garamond typeface: The Talisman | STEPHEN KING | PETER STRAUB | VIKING

Title and authors’ names on spine are horizontal. Publisher is vertical.
12. Title Page TranscriptionThe | Talisman | Stephen King | Peter Straub | Viking | G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Title page verso transcription:

VIKING | Viking Penguin Inc., 40 West 23rd Street, | New York, New York 10010, U.S.A. | Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, | Middlesex, England | Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, | Victoria, Australia | Penguin Books Canada Limited, 2801 John Street, | Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 1B4 | Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182–190 Wairau Road, | Auckland 10, New Zealand | Copyright © Stephen King and Peter Straub, 1984 | All rights reserved | First published in 1984 by Viking Penguin Inc. | Published simultaneously in Canada | A special limited edition of this book was published by | Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Rhode Island. | LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA | King, Stephen, 1947– | The talisman. | I. Straub, Peter. II. Title. | PS3561.I483T3 1984 813´·54 83-40677 | ISBN 0-670-69199-2 | Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint copyrighted material: | Bourne Co. Music Publishers: Portions of lyrics from “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” by Frank E. | Churchill and Ann Ronell. Copyright 1933 by Bourne Co. Copyright renewed. | Bourne Co. Music Publishers and Callicoon Music: Portions of lyrics from “When the Red, Red Robin Goes Bob- | Bob-Bobbing Along,” music and lyrics by Harry Woods. Copyright © 1926 by Bourne Co. and Callicoon | Music. Copyright renewed. | CBS Songs, A Division of CBS, Inc.: Portions of lyrics from “Rueben James,” by Barry Etris and Alex Harvey. | Copyright © 1969 by UNART MUSIC CORPORATION. Rights assigned to CBS CATALOGUE PARTNERSHIP. All | rights controlled and administered by CBS UNART CATALOG INC. All rights reserved. International copyright | secured. An excerpt from “The Wizard of Oz,” lyric by E. Y. Harburg, music by Harold Arlen. Copyright | © 1938, renewed 1966, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. Copyright 1939, renewed 1967 by Leo Feist, Inc. | Rights assigned to CBS CATALOGUE PARTNERSHIP. All rights controlled and administered by CBS FEIST | CATALOG INC. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. | Hudson Bay Music, Inc.: Portions of lyrics from “Long Line Rider” (Bobby Darin). Copyright © 1968 by | Alley Music Corporation and Trio Music Company, Inc. All rights administered by Hudson Bay Music, Inc. | All rights reserved. | Jondora Music: Portions of lyrics from “Run Through the Jungle,” by John Fogarty. Copyright © 1973 by | Jondora Music, courtesy Fantasy, Inc., Berkeley, California. | Sanga Music Inc.: Portions of lyrics from “Gotta Travel On,” by Paul Clayton, David Lazar, Larry Ehrlich, and | Tom Six. Copyright © 1958, 1960 by Sanga Music Inc. All rights reserved. | Printed in the United States of America | by R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company, Harrisonburg, Virginia | Set in Garamond | Designed by Ann Gold
13. Image of Title PageA113191060215195313.jpg
14. Manuscript HoldingsStephen King

“King has donated most of his manuscript material to the Special Collections of the Fogler Library (at the Orono campus of the University of Maine). This collection, which includes the manuscripts of all his books, is not open to the public.”

From Fogler’s online catalogue:

KING, STEPHEN EDWIN, 1947-
Papers. ca. 80 ft.

Author, of Bangor and Bridgton, Maine. Drafts and galleys of published works. Typescripts of unpublished works.
Card catalog in the repository.
Gift of Mr. King.
Additions to the collection are anticipated.
COLLECTION RESTRICTED

SUBJECTS:
AUTHORS, AMERICAN - MAINE

Peter Straub

I have been unable to find information on Peter Straub’s manuscript holdings.

Sources:
Fogler Library
Hill House Publishers
15. OtherHalf-title (p. i), in Garamond: THE TALISMAN

Two quotations preface the book (p. vii):

Well, when Tom and me got to the edge of the hilltop, we looked away down into the village and could see three or four lights twinkling, where there was sick folks, and may be; and stars over us was sparkling ever so fine; and down by the village was the river, a whole mile broad, and awful still and grand.
—Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

My new clothes was all greased up and clayey, and I was dog-tired.
—Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
Assignment 2: Publication History
1. Other Editions: Penguin, 1985 (unknown binding)
Berkley, Nov. 1, 1985 (paperback)--Berkley is a paperback imprint of Putnam, now of Penguin Putnam

Special limited editions by Donald M. Grant:

1,200 signed limited editions
1,200 unsigned trade editions

6 different limited editions have been issued:

1. 30 copies reserved for the press, marked “Author’s Copy”
2. An indeterminate number of copies designated the “artist’s presentation state,” signed by the authors and the book’s 10 illustrators
3. 70 numbered copies, designated the “artist’s presentation state”
4. 5 designer copies
5. A “deluxe edition” of 1,200 copies, numbered and signed by King and Straub
6. A “trade edition” of 1,200 copies, not numbered or signed

These editions all feature the artwork of 10 artists, including Michael Whelan, R. J. Krupowicz, Stephen Gervais, Rick Berry, and Tom Canty. Sections 2 & 3 contain images of Grant’s limited publication.

Source:
Hill House Publishers
2. Image of Cover Art A22191060228094008.jpg
3. Sample IllustrationA23191060228123637.jpg
4. First Edition printings or impressions?Publishers Weekly states that The Talisman “was backed with a record-breaking 600,000-copy first printing (largest ever for a hardcover novel).”

Additionally, by Nov. 2nd, a second printing of 75,000 brought the total in-print to 705,000, five days before the distribution date.

On Nov. 9th, Publishers Weekly announced a third printing of 75,000 copies, bringing the final Viking 1st edition in-print total to 780,000.

Note: There is a discrepancy of 30,000 copies for which I am not able to account.

Sources:
BooksInPrint.com
Publishers Weekly. Nov.–Dec. 1984. Vol. 226.
5. Editions from other publishers?The following post-1984 editions are listed in chronological order:

Turtleback Book Distributed by Demco Media, Jan. 1985 (hardcover)
Random House Value Publishing, Feb. 9, 1987 (hardcover)
Berkley, reissue edition, Mar. 15, 1987 (paperback)
New English Library, 1996 (unknown binding)
BT Bound Publishing, Oct. 1999 (library binding)
Sagebrush (rebound), July 2001 (school & library binding)
Turtleback Books Distributed by Demco Media, July 2001 (unknown binding)
Ballantine Books, July 31, 2001 (paperback)
Random House, Sep. 2001 (hardcover)

Box Set Editions of The Talisman and Black House:

Ballantine Books, Oct. 1, 2002 (paperback)
Donald M. Grant, Oct. 1, 2003 (hardcover gift set, limited edition, 3,500 copies)

Sources:
Worldcat

Amazon.com
Donald M. Grant Publisher
AddAll.com
6. Last date in print? As of March 1, 2006, The Talisman is still in print, the most recent edition occurring in 2001 by Random House. This 2001 edition coincided with the publication of the book’s sequel, Black House. See Section 15. See also, Supplementary Materials for images of the 2001 edition.

Source:
BooksInPrint.com
7. Total copies sold? Unknown
8. Sales by year?Publishers Weekly reports that The Talisman’s final 1984 sales figure was 880,287 copies.

Time spent on bestsellers lists

Viking hardbound edition:
New York Times, #1 for 12 weeks, 23 weeks in total
Publishers Weekly, #1 for 11 weeks, 26 weeks in total
(George Beahm reports 28 weeks in total)

Berkley paperback edition:
New York Times, #1 for 2 weeks, 14 weeks in total
Publishers Weekly, #1 for 3 weeks, 13 weeks in total

Sources:
BooksInPrint.com
Justice, Keith L. Bestseller Index. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, 1998. p. 176.
Beahm, George, ed. The Stephen King Companion. Rev. ed. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1995. p. 249.
9. Advertising copy: Following is an ad placed in the New York Times, October 28, 1984. Please see Section 10 for a scanned image of this particular ad.

This full page ad, which includes both an image of the book and a Viking imprint, reads:

The ultimate fusion of fantasy and fear

“Astounds”

“Mesmerizes”

“Terrifies”

“Fulfills”

“Surpassing the expectations created by their separate past work, THE TALISMAN astounds, mesmerizes, terrifies, and fulfills the reader . . . The plot shuttles from world to world, cresting like a stormy sea from climax to climax . . . Seamlessly written, THE TALISMAN is a grand novel.”--Publishers Weekly

Buy THE TALISMAN wherever hardcover books are sold. Not available through book clubs.

Source:
ProQuest
10. Image of sample advertisementA210191060301222709.jpg
11. Other promotion? The Talisman was backed by a $550,000 promotion campaign. However, it was not made available through book clubs, and Viking did not release the book to stores until the day of publication (Nov. 7, 1984).

Sources:
BooksInPrint.com
Beahm, George. The Stephen King Companion. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1995. pp. 248–249
12. Performances in other media? The Talisman is available in numerous audio and digital media:

Audioworks, MP3-CD edition, Sep. 1, 2001 (audio CD)
Audioworks, unabridged edition, Sep. 1, 2001 (audio cassette)
Audioworks, unabridged edition, Sep. 1, 2001 (audio CD)
Ballantine Books, Sep. 2001 (digital download: ADOBE READER)
Ballantine Books, Sep. 2001 (digital download: MICROSOFT READER)
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, 2005 (audio CD)
Simon & Schuster (audio.com), Sep. 2001 (digital audiobook, unabridged)

A Dreamworks production of The Talisman is in pre-production, with Ehren Kruger, Kathleen Kennedy, and Steven Spielberg credited as executive producers. Kruger has written the screenplay. Internet Movie Database lists a release date of 2008.

Sources:
Worldcat

Amazon.com
Internet Movie Database: The Talisman
Internet Movie Database: Ehren Kruger
13. Translations? Translations in Alphabetical Order by Language:

Chinese
Mo fu. Taibei Shi: Huang guan chu ban she, 1985

Czech
Talisman. Plzen: Perseus, 1996

Finnish
Talismaani. Hyvinkää: Book Studio, 1991

French
Le Talisman. Paris: R. Laffont, 1986

German
Der Talisman. Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1986
Der Talisman. München: Heyne, 1994

Hebrew
ha-Kamià. Tel-Aviv: Modan, 1985

Italian
Il Talismano. Milano: Sperling and Kupfer Editori, 1986

Japanese
Tarisuman. Tokyo: Shinchosha, 1987

Korean
Pujok. Seoul: Parkun Sesang, 1992

Polish
Talizman. Warszawa: Prószynski i S-ka, 2002

Russian
Stolknovenie Mirov. Leningrad: KHRONOS, 1993
Talisman. Moskva: AST, 1997, 1999, 2002

Spanish
El Talismán. México, D.F.: Editorial Planeta Mexicana, 1983
El Talismán. Barcelona: Planeta, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1998, 2002, 2003
El Talismán. Barcelona: Plaza & Janés Editores, 2002
El Talismán. New York: Random House Español, 2002

Turkish
Tilsim. Instanbul: Inkilâp, 2002

Sources:
Worldcat

AddAll.com
14. Serialization? N/A
15. Sequels or Prequels? In 1987, Stephen King wrote The Tommyknockers, which contains a scene that includes Jack Sawyer (89–92). We learn that Jack is still living at the Alhambra Hotel on Arcadia Beach. As Jack stands, looking out at the water, he meets Jim Gardener, the novel’s protagonist, whose surname, if Jack knew it, would have surely caused Jack to think his troubles were beginning anew (as it happens, Jim introduces himself as “Gard,” so no harm done). Jim and Jack have a short conversation in which Jack tells Jim that Lily drank so much she was sometimes “too hung-over to talk,” and that she had recently died in a car crash (90). Thus, three years after The Talisman was published, we learn that the effort, the suffering, the literal torture that Jack’s endured to save Lily was for naught. This disturbingly cynical twist to Jack’s story borders on the tragic, until we remember that his heroic quest transcended the health of his mother: it brought justice for his father’s murder; it brought to Jack knowledge of the Good; and it saved an entire world.

In 2001, King and Straub published Black House, a sequal to The Talisman. See Assignment 4 for brief discussion of Black House’s reception among book reviewers.

King and Straub have said that they intend The Talisman to be a trilogy, and King was quoted on Feb. 17, 2006 as saying that a third book is in the planning stages. In 2007, Straub concurred that he and King "have agreed to do the last book in the series," but there is no definite completion date thus far.

Sources:
CemeteryDance.com
The Overlook Connection
King, Stephen. The Tommyknockers. New York: Putnam’s, 1987.
King, Stephen and Peter Straub. Black House. New York: Random House, 2001.
Assignment 3: Brief Biography
Stephen King

The Bestsellers Database contains eleven biographies for Stephen King. I have read them all, and consider those for Cujo, Misery, and It to be the most accurate and detailed regarding King’s early life. This biography will focus on the time during which King and Peter Straub co-wrote The Talisman.

Steve King and I respect each other enormously, and by now there can be no doubt that our mutual trust is well-nigh absolute. Me, I’d damn near step off a building if he told me he’d be there to catch me.~~Peter Straub on Stephen King (“A chat with . . .”)


In 1977, Stephen and Tabitha King moved their family to London. They had planned to live there for a year, but stayed for only three months. However, within that short time, the Kings met Peter and Susan Straub, who were living in London’s Crouch End district (King, “jack’s back”). They had long been fans of each other’s work, and after meeting, came to enjoy “each other as well” (“jack’s back”). The two self-proclaimed “ghettoized” horror writers found a common bond in their shared dismissal by the more “literary-established types” (“jack’s back”), and though they did not mind the critical condescension, they longed to break down the doors of the Fantasy Departments in the publishing companies and find a larger audience (Straub, “Meeting Stevie” 12). The Kings and the Straubs (including their children) quickly became friends, and King even dedicated his book Eyes of the Dragon to his daughter, Naomi, and Straub’s son, Ben. King recalls that he and Straub “started talking about collaboration at that first meeting in London” (King, “jack’s back”). When the Straubs moved to Connecticut in the early eighties, the “talk got serious” (“jack’s back”).

Before meeting Straub, King had published three novels: Carrie, 'Salem’s Lot, and The Shining. By the time he began collaborating with Straub, he had already “driven a huge wedge” into the New York Times bestsellers list (Straub, “Meeting Stevie” 13), and he had also become an alcoholic and drug addict (King, On Writing 96). In his memoir, King admits to drinking “a case of sixteen-ounce tallboys a night” (99), and in 1982, even Straub affectionately remarked that he “drinks a lot of beer” (“Meeting Stevie” 13). Indeed, The Talisman has a short, but near-poetic scene, in which Morgan Sloat dances the ritualistic steps to prepare and then snort cocaine—“His nasal passages opened up as wide as tunnels. Way back there, a drip began to deliver the goodies” (451). And what Morgan does next is telling: he washes his hands, and then, “for the sake of his nose [draws] a little of the moisture on his thumb and index finger up into his nostrils” (451). It is impossible to read this scene without thinking of King’s description of himself, writing The Tommyknockers with “cotton swabs stuck up [his] nose to stem the coke-induced bleeding” (On Writing 96). King has been sober since 1986. That he was going through such monstrous ill health while producing such excellent work is impressive; that he is brave enough to admit it is admirable.

King and Straub’s partnership did not end with The Talisman. In 1999, they began discussing a possible sequel that they originally called T2, but later titled Black House. However, two months into the preliminary writing, King was horrifically injured when a van ran him down on June 19, 1999 (an eerie coincidence given Straub’s childhood trauma [see below]). He and Straub resumed their writing during the winter in 2000, and Black House was published in 2001. A list of Stephen King’s publications can be found on his website. Please see the Supplementary Materials section for a list of the author’s honors and awards.


Peter Straub

I was impressed with Peter because he had such a beautiful grasp of how people behave. Also, the man had a sense of humor and could tell a story.~~Stephen King on Peter Straub (“jack’s back”)


Peter Francis Straub was born on March 2, 1943 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is male. He is white. He is son to Gordon Anthony and Elvena (Nilsestuen) Straub. He is husband to Susan (née Bitker, married since 1966). He is father to Benjamin Bitker and Emma Sydney Valli (Literature Resource Center). He is Lutheran. He is heterosexual (NNDB.com). And he gleefully tricks his fans by providing a faux email link, getting us excited, and then crushing our hopes when the inevitable “mailer-daemon” response arrives in our inboxes. And he chuckles about it (Straub, “Frequently Asked Questions About Peter Straub”).

When reading about Straub, it quickly becomes clear that he has an extraordinary intellect. As a child he lived in a world “filled with a code [he] wished to master” (Straub, “Peter Straub: Connoisseur of Fear”). As early as kindergarten he was frustrated by the “stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy colored paper,” and consequently taught himself to read before reaching the first grade (Straub, “About the Author”).

While still in the first grade Straub was hit by a car, “which resulted in a classic near-death experience, many broken bones, surgical operations, a year out of school, a lengthy tenure in a wheelchair, and certain emotional quirks” (Straub, “About the Author”). He also developed a “severe stutter,” which—though much improved—has lasted into adulthood (“About the Author”). And though he discusses this terrible event with wit and aplomb, Straub suffered recurring nightmares until thirty years later, when he began writing horror fiction (“About the Author”).

After graduating with a Bachelor of English from the University of Wisconsin (1965) and an MA from Columbia University (1966), Straub married Susan Bitker, and began teaching at the University School of Milwaukee (Wilson Web). But Straub was not happy, and feared turning into a “spiritless & chalk-stained drudge” if he did not pursue what he intuitively knew to be his calling: writing (Straub, “About the Author”). So, in the fall of 1969, he embarked on PhD study at the University College Dublin in Ireland, specializing in Victorian literature and D. H. Lawrence under the auspices of literary critic Denis Donoghue (Wilson Web). While there, Straub did very little studying, but quite a bit of writing, and by 1972 he had published two books of poetry: Ishmael (Turret Books) and Open Air (Irish UP), participated in readings with a playwright friend, and finally completed and published his first book, Marriages, in 1973 (Coward) (Literature Resource Center). He then moved to London, where “his writing improved,” where he “gathered up his ancient fears and turned them into fiction,” and where he eventually met Stephen King (Straub, “About the Author”).

It was through a blurb that Straub first became aware of Stephen King. King had written a short commentary for Straub’s new book, Julia, and he considered it “easily the most insightful” of any of the other responses (Straub, “Meeting Stevie” 7). Straub had never heard of King, nor had he heard of Carrie or 'Salem’s Lot, the only books that King had published at that time (7). But he was intrigued, simply because—though the praise was appreciated—“King showed in a few sentences that he understood what I was trying to do” (7). Straub saw that King got him, so he made a point to remember the name.

Straub eventually read 'Salem’s Lot, and was delighted by it (Straub, “Meeting Stevie” 8-9). Then King wrote yet another blurb for Straub’s If You Could See Me Now: “two pages of generosity and insight. . . . So it was clear that if I had an ideal reader anywhere in the world, it was probably Stephen King” (9). Reading The Shining, says Straub, made it impossible not to write to King; he considered the book a “masterpiece” (10). King wrote back, saying that he would be traveling to England shortly, and asked if they could meet. Thus, two writers who not only “noticed each other’s work almost as soon as it appeared,” but appreciated the “common ambitions and attitudes toward [their] bizarre field” (“A chat with . . .”), and who clearly still value each other’s friendship, met through a blurb. And the literary world is better for it.

Straub and his wife live in the Upper West Side of New York City. His latest novel is In the Night Room, published in 2004, and his current publisher is Random House. A list of Peter Straub’s publications can be found on his website. Please see the Supplementary Materials section for a list of the author’s honors and awards.


Sources Cited

King, Stephen. Interview. “jack’s back.” Black House. July 2001. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. 3 Apr. 2006. FireAndWater.com

---. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Pocket Books, 2000.

Literature Resource Center. “Peter (Francis) Straub.” 28 Sept. 2005. Thompson Gale. 5 Apr. 2006. Literature Resource Center

Notable Names Database: Tracking the Entire World. “Peter Straub.” 2006. Soylent Communications. 3 Apr. 2006. NNDB.com

Straub, Peter. “About the Author.” 6 Feb. 2006. PeterStraub.net. 3 Apr. 2006. PeterStraub.net

---. “Frequently Asked Questions about Peter Straub.” 6 Feb. 2006. PeterStraub.net. 3 Apr. 2006. PeterStraub.net

---. Interview. “A chat with . . .” Black House. July 2001. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. 3 Apr. 2006. FireAndWater.com

---. Interview. “Peter Straub: Connoisseur of Fear.” Originally published: June 1997. By Paula Guran. DarkEcho.com. Apr. 2002. Dark Echo Horror. 4 Apr. 2006. DarkEcho.com

---. Introduction. “Meeting Stevie.” Fear Itself: The Early Works of Stephen King. Eds. Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller. San Francisco: Underwood-Miller, 1993. 7–13.

Wilson Web. “Peter Straub.” 1995. The H. W. Wilson Company. 5 Apr. 2006. Wilson Web
Assignment 4
Contemporary Reception:
Because of the immense popularity of Stephen King and Peter Straub, anticipation for The Talisman was extraordinarily strong. Along with the unprecedented $550,000 promotion budget were publicity articles, such as “Kindred Spirits,” in which Michael Kernan describes the electricity “crackl[ing]” between the two authors, and exclaims that the “remarkable thing about the Straub-King collaboration is not that it happened but that it took them so long to think of it” (C1). Indeed, George Beahm claims that the expected result of the King/Straub collaboration was nothing less than “the greatest horror novel ever written” (The Stephen King Companion 248). Thus, with expectations this high, mixed opinion among readers was inevitable, and most critics expressed at least some disappointment.

By far the most negative review came from People magazine, which awarded The Talisman the top spot in its yearly “Worst of Pages” list: “In horror fiction, two heads are better than one only if they’re on the same body” (qtd. in Beahm, Stephen King from A to Z 224). Conversely, the most positive review was probably that of Twilight Zone magazine, whose readers chose The Talisman as the year’s best novel (224). Another positive review came from Peter Gorner of the Chicago Tribune: “[T]here is so much cliffhanging, so much virtuosic shtick and so many realistic shtunks that few young readers are likely to feel cheated” (E3). But most reviews of The Talisman were not so black and white. Reviewers expressed enjoyment of the characters, delight with the Territories, irritation at the authors’ bombastic writing style, and boredom with the book’s “long-winded” ending—all of these descriptions can be found in a single review (Pollock 1), and their near-opposite can be found in others (Shapiro 587).

Though Dale Pollock of the Los Angeles Times considers the collaboration between King and Straub both “gripping” and “immensely satisfying,” and compliments the authors on refraining from “intruding on their story,” he nonetheless claims that Straub could not “eliminate all of King’s tired mannerisms,” and criticizes the book’s “long-winded” and “predictable” ending (1). The Washington Post’s Frank Herbert—who wrote an otherwise extremely positive review—faults the book for its “contrivance,” saying that it is “not so much a novel as it is a film vehicle” (A1). Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times says that he long viewed King the “more instinctive” psychologically of the two authors, and Straub the “more cerebral and aware of the history of the genre” (C27). However, Lehmann-Haupt pronounces that The Talisman—suffering from a “surfeit of monstrosity”—“inherited the worst traits” of both authors: brand-name product placement, teenage pop culture, and “cryptic italicized phrases” from King; “literary self-consciousness,” “ink-stained scholarliness,” and “an over-fascination with complicated magic effects” from Straub (C27). And though Lehmann-Haupt assumes that the authors have each learned from the other, he still concludes that the “result of their union” is nothing to “fawn over” (C27).

One aspect of the novel on which reviewers almost universally agreed is the well-written characters, especially Jack Sawyer and Wolf. Herbert finds himself “caring whether Traveling Jack-Jason will triumph” over the many “frightening characters” (A1). And Gorner lists “true-hearted” Jack and the “immensely appealing” Wolf as just two reasons he found The Talisman enjoyable (E3). Lehmann-Haupt makes mention of the “good werewolf” and the “hip and groovy kid,” Jack Sawyer, and he gleefully admits that the “villain” Osmond made him “nervous” (C27).

Reviewers also find the “quasi-medieval” Territories enchanting (Pollock 1), and seem to enjoy comparing them to other literary fantasy worlds. Indeed, every reviewer I have read references at least one literary predecessor to the Territories: Gorner mentions Tolkien and Bradbury; Herbert suggests that the chase scene rivals A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; Pollock calls Jack a “junior Candide” (1); the New York Times’ Anna Shapiro sees the entire book as “The Wizard of Oz written as a boy’s adventure” (587); and Lehmann-Haupt claims that the “alternate landscape evokes Oz, the Looking Glass World, Narnia, the lands of both John and Paul Bunyan, . . . as well as several other worlds that buffs of fantasy fiction could cite” (C27). And yet, it is the fantastical setting juxtaposed with King and Straub’s trademark horror that some reviewers found the most off-putting. This consensus was due to the novel being both horror and fantasy, and because of this, critics presumed that it was going to have a difficult time finding an audience. Herbert recommends the book, but only if the reader is “into good horror and suspense” (A1). As positive as Gorner’s review is, he still worries that the novel might annoy King and Straub’s fan base: “Horror fans may not know what to make of the Territories, while fantasy buffs may find themselves marking time as King/Straub repeatedly try to scare the bejabbers out of them” (E3).

Thus, The Talisman was not universally acclaimed as “the greatest horror novel ever written,” but neither was it universally condemned. With the exception of People magazine, I found no critic that advised against reading the book at all.


Sources Cited

Beahm, George. Stephen King from A to Z: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Work. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1998.

---, ed. The Stephen King Companion. Rev. ed. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1995.

Gorner, Peter. “Horror kings put power in ‘Talisman.’ ” Chicago Tribune. 8 Nov. 1984: E3.

Herbert, Frank. “When Parallel Worlds Collide.” The Washington Post. 14 Oct. 1984: A1+.

Kernan, Michael. “Kindred Spirits.” The Washington Post. 27 Nov. 1984: C1+.

Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. “Books of The Times.” New York Times. 8 Nov. 1984: C27.

Pollock, Dale. Los Angeles Times. 18 Nov. 1984: 1.

Shapiro, Anna. “In Short.” New York Times. 4 Nov. 1984: 587.
Subsequent Reception:
In the late-eighties, scholarly consideration of Stephen King’s works exploded. Suddenly, King was worthy of academic attention. A few of his short stories were included in literature anthologies. Professors began discussing his novels in classrooms. And scholars’ literary criticism of King’s works were more readily accepted for publication. King has been, and remains, a controversial figure in academe, but literary criticism of his works continues to grow.

In The Stephen King Companion, George Beahm writes, along with a detailed account of the novel’s publishing history, a review of The Talisman. Like the reviewers before him, Beahm claims that the novel contains “echoes of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, Mark Twain and The Wizard of Oz” (249). Beahm also describes a “third, almost wholly unexpected voice” that surfaced from the joint venture, different from King’s “vividly colloquial prose, or Straub’s coolly ironic academic tone” (249).

In 2001, Stephen King and Peter Straub published Black House, a sequel to The Talisman. Consequently, a few of the reviews for Black House generated commentary on its predecessor. In her essay, “Stephen King, go home!”, Laura Miller admits that she “can’t quite fathom” why The Talisman was “beloved by so many readers.” She postulates that, while writing The Talisman King and Straub “realized that good fantasy calls on talents that they just don’t have, at least not in abundance,” and this is why Black House “cants more in the direction of horror (as opposed to fantasy).” Richard Blow, however, disagrees with Miller—at least regarding her assessment of The Talisman. He includes the novel in his list of King books that have “memorable characters and strong plots.” And when critiquing Black House, Blow claims that the novel “reads like a Hollywood sequel, manufactured solely to cash in on a far superior predecessor.”

Following is a list of essays and books that are devoted to, or make mention of, The Talisman. This is by no means a comprehensive list, and these are not exactly book reviews, but the scholarship and literary criticism of The Talisman that has appeared due to King’s newfound position in the literary canon should not be neglected.

Bosky, Bernadette. “Stephen King and Peter Straub: Fear and Friendship.” Discovering Stephen King. Ed. Darrell Schweitzer. Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism Ser. 8. Mercer Island: Starmont House, 1985. 55–82.

Casebeer, Edwin F. “The Art of Balance: Stephen King’s Canon.” Stephen King. Ed. Harold Bloom. Modern Critical Views Ser. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1998. 207–218.

Davis, Jonathan P. “Childhood and Rites of Passage.” Stephen King. Ed. Harold Bloom. Modern Critical Views Ser. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1998. 131–152.

Heldreth, Leonard G. “The Ultimate Horror: The Dead Child in Stephen King’s Stories and Novels.” Discovering Stephen King. Ed. Darrell Schweitzer. Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism Ser. 8. Mercer Island: Starmont House, 1985. 141–152.

Magistrale, Tony. “Inherited Haunts: Stephen King’s Terrible Children.” Stephen King. Ed. Harold Bloom. Modern Critical Views Ser. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1998. 59–75.

---. Landscape of Fear: Stephen King’s American Gothic. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988.

---. “Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination: The Talisman.The Dark Descent: Essays Defining Stephen King’s Horrorscape. Ed. Tony Magistrale. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. 113–127.

Strengell, Heidi. “ ‘The Monster Never Dies’: An Analysis of the Gothic Double in Stephen King’s Oeuvre.” Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture (1900–present) 2:1 (Spring 2003). AmericanPopularCulture.com

Wiater, Stanley, Christopher Golden and Hank Wagner. The Stephen King Universe: A Guide to the Worlds of the King of Horror. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 2001.

Winter, Douglas E. Stephen King: The Art of Darkness. New York: New American Library, 1984.


Sources Cited

Beahm, George, ed. The Stephen King Companion. Rev. ed. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1995.

Blow, Richard. “The chill is gone.” Salon.com. 19 Feb. 2002. Salon Media Group, Inc. 19 Apr. 2006. Salon.com

Miller, Laura. “Stephen King, go home!” Salon.com. 18 Oct. 2001. Salon Media Group, Inc. 19 Apr. 2006. Salon.com
Assignment 5
Critical Essay:
“Never harm the herd”: Social Criticism and Environmental Consciousness in Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman

You’re reaching up to hold a universe of worlds, a cosmos of good, Jack— . . . Don’t drop it, son. For Jason’s sake, don’t drop it~~Philip Sawyer

The only way Stephen King and Peter Straub could have prevented The Talisman from becoming a bestseller would have been to publish under pseudonyms. George Beahm says that by 1984, King was considered “the premier writer of contemporary horror,” and that of King’s “perceived heirs,” Straub “enjoyed perhaps the highest standing” (The Stephen King Companion 248). The authors’ popularity, along with Viking’s $550,000 publicity campaign, certainly helped propel The Talisman to the top of the bestseller lists (Publishers Weekly). Thus, with such admiration and anticipation from their fans, King and Straub’s collaboration could not help but be an instant bestseller. But were popularity and money the only things that kept the novel on the lists for seven months? Are they what has kept The Talisman in print for the past twenty-two years? King and Straub gave their readers more than standard horror fare. They wrote a novel that contains fantastic imagery, homages to both contemporary and past authors, and important contemporary thematic concerns. The Talisman is a quest story; it is a bildungsroman, written in the tradition of Huckleberry Finn and The Wizard of Oz; it is a fantasy tale; it is a Gothic horror story; it is an epic in the purest literary definition of the word. But most especially, it is a novel of ferocious social criticism that is as timely today as it was when it was written over twenty years ago.

During his undergraduate years at the University of Maine, King’s “conservative upbringing fell away with a sudden rage,” and he has been active in politics, civil rights, and environmental issues ever since (Winter 22–23). Of his college activism, King has said that, for him, the issues “boiled down to three or four strong points—protest the war, protest poverty, protest discrimination against women” (qtd. in Smith). According to Beahm, King “passionately” opposed Ronald Reagan (Stephen King from A to Z 163), and campaigned for Gary Hart in 1988 (94). In 2004, King supported John Edwards for president, and described the Bush administration as the “ ‘most dangerous and unpleasant bunch’ to occupy the White House since the Nixon years” (“Edwards speaks at UMaine rally, criticizes Cheney”). Peter Straub is less vocal about his political leanings, but he seems to agree with those of King, at least with respect to the environment:
What Steve describes as ‘Reagan’s America’ is almost implicit in elements we assembled for the book. The book does seem to be about the death of the land, the terrible poisoning of the land. (qtd. in Bosky 70)

Moreover, Straub continued to write “[r]adical horror” that “expose[s] the nasty side of American society” long after The Talisman was published. In 1997, Straub published The Hellfire Club, a book that Paula Guran calls “a vivid view of the festering corruption of present day American society,” replete with “the evil greed of capitalist misogynist power-mongering fascists.” Guran applauds Straub for stripping away the “facade” of the “Republican world of reactionary politics and morality.”

Whether King and Straub originally intended their novel to be “an investigation of the American Dream and the nightmare that it sometimes becomes” is not readily apparent (Bosky 69); however, that they wrote exactly this is unmistakable. King and Straub began plotting The Talisman in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan was elected President (Magistrale, “Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination” 114). The Talisman’s “grim” account of “American society and values” takes place during Autumn in 1981, the first year of Reagan’s presidency (Bosky 70). And by the time the novel was published in November 1984, Reagan had been elected for a second term.

A demonstrable example of 80s American culture in The Talisman is the character of Reverend Sunlight Gardener, a frighteningly insane Christian fundamentalist, who is modeled on the likes of Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and Jim Bakker—four prominent television evangelists in the 1980s. Additionally, Swaggart, Roberts, and Falwell (who took control of Jim Bakker’s The PTL Club and Heritage USA theme park after accusations of sexual affairs, embezzlement, and fraud were charged against Bakker) had all founded institutes of education, on which Gardener’s Sunlight Home is probably based. And only Jerry Falwell has avoided the various scandals that Swaggart, Roberts, Bakker, and Sunlight Gardener have faced. Sunlight’s closeness with Morgan is a possible literary representation of Jerry Falwell’s conservative political lobbying group Moral Majority, and the hazy line between Church and State in America. King has written that, though he believes in God, he has “no use for organized religion” (On Writing 61). Considering his unfavorable treatment of fundamentalism in his late-70s and early-80s novels, such as Carrie, The Dead Zone, and The Gunslinger, it seems likely that Sunlight Gardener may have been King’s creation.

Fundamentalism of all beliefs and ideologies did not end with Reagan’s presidency, and is alive and well in twenty-first-century America. When we read The Talisman today, it is not Jimmy Swaggart who comes to mind, but Pat Robertson; not Oral Roberts, but Tim LaHaye. Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition is one of the most influential political lobbying groups today. Ralph Reed, leader of the Christian Coalition until 1997, worked for the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004. And Jerry Falwell is as powerful and as politically connected today as he was during the 80s.

Another issue that influenced The Talisman—though only symbolically—was the AIDS epidemic. By the end of 1981, the Center for Disease Control had already reported the deaths of 234 “young men, all active homosexuals,” that were linked to diseases caused from complications of what would later be known as AIDS (“So little time . . .”). By July 27, 1982, the term “AIDS” was being used for the first time, and the CDC had linked the disease to blood (“So little time . . .”). It was also in 1982 that White House Press Secretary Larry Speakes made jokes about AIDS and gay men, while claiming not to “know anything about it”:
Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases? [sic]

MR. SPEAKES: What’s AIDS?

Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” [Laughter.] No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?

MR. SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? [Laughter.]

Q: No, I don’t. . . . Well, I just wondered, does the President . . .

MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? [Laughter.]

Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?

MR. SPEAKES: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester.

Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?

MR. SPEAKES: I don’t think so. (James).

At the time of Speakes’ press briefing, 200 Americans had already died of AIDS (James). By the year’s end, that number rose to 853. And by the end of 1983, 2,304 more had died of AIDS (“So little time . . .”). In May 31, 1984, “the number of Americans killed in the AIDS epidemic surpassed 2,000, . . . [not including a] diagnosis of 2,615 others who now awaited death,” including Rock Hudson (Shilts 456). By December 31, “the Center for Disease Control reported that 7,699 Americans were dead or dying of [AIDS]” (502–503), and yet President Reagan had still not seen a need to mention the disease in public (“So little time . . .”).

The AIDS crisis does not appear in The Talisman, but there seems little doubt that King and Straub were aware of this epidemic, if only as a “gay plague.” The Talisman, however, does contain two gay characters, and both are sympathetically portrayed. These characters appear in the story so fleetingly, that to call them “minor” is generous. But when we read about them, we realize how important they are, simply because King and Straub treat them with empathy and dignity. Homosexuality itself is treated in such an adult, matter-of-fact way by twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer, that when homophobia does appear, it is even more starkly highlighted. In fact, the only characters who use bigoted slurs against homosexuals are the cruel people that Jack encounters: Morgan Sloat, Smokey Updike, Sunlight Gardener and his thugs. Tommy Woodbine is the first gay character we encounter, and his story is told by Morgan, after Morgan has had him killed:
Sloat understood almost at once, and knew that Phil Sawyer would never see it unless he were told, that Tommy Woodbine lived with an enormous secret: . . . Tommy was now a homosexual. Probably he’d call himself gay. And that made everything easier—in the end, it even made it easier to get rid of Tommy. Because queers are always getting killed, aren’t they? (74)

King and Straub make it very clear that Tommy was a good man, a trusted friend, possessing humility, “seriousness and straightforwardness”—attributes that only feed Morgan’s hatred (72–73). Phil and Lily make Tommy the executor of their estate, and legal guardian of Jack (72). We only see Tommy through Morgan’s eyes, but because Phil, Lily, and, especially, Jack trust him, we do too. As far was we know, none of them are aware that Tommy is gay (though how this got past the cynical, street-smart Lily is anyone’s guess), but what is also very clear is that—gay or straight—Tommy is a much better guardian for Jack than Morgan Sloat. That King and Straub were writing this during a decade in which homosexuals had to fight in the courts to adopt, or even keep custody of their biological children, makes this brief episode incredibly brave and subversive.

The Talisman’s other prominent gay character is Donny Keegan, a mentally handicapped boy who lives in the Sunlight Home with Jack and Wolf. We first meet Donny as the boys are outdoors working the fields, and another boy, Ferd Janklow, starts teasing Jack that Donny is “in love” with him, which embarrasses Jack terribly (321). This scene, one probably enacted in every park and playground everywhere, is a realistic portrayal of boys’ interactions, and it is clear that poor, retarded Donny—though teased often—is safe enough around Ferd, Jack, and Wolf. But when we next see Donny, circumstances are very different. Jack has found the Talisman, and everywhere, those close to Jack experience their own personal revelations:
Donny looked up suddenly, his muddy eyes widening. Outside, clouds . . . pulled open in the west, letting out a single broad ray of sunshine that was terrible and exalting in its isolated beauty. “You’re right, I DO love him!” . . . He’s beautiful and I DO love him!” Donny honked his idiot laugh, only now even his laugh was nearly beautiful. . . . His face was bathed in the sunlight from that one clear, ephemeral ray, and one of the boys would whisper to a close friend that night that for a moment Donny Keegan had looked like Jesus. (584)

Our last sight of Donny Keegan is this revelation, this knowing, experiencing of “love and triumph, . . . of grace for once fulfilled and delivered,” of “clarity” and “ecstasy” (584). And we are told that he would never forget this moment. Why King and Straub chose Donny for this particular gift is important. He is one of the few real orphans at the Sunlight Home. He is one of the few Americans whom Jack meets who intuits something “special” about Jack. And he is one of the few true innocents that Jack encounters on his journey. The fact that Donny is gay removes nothing from his innocence, no matter what Sunlight (or the preachers on which he is based) believe.

It is necessary to note that homoerotic interpretation of Donny’s feelings toward Jack is not indisputable. It could convincingly be argued that Donny’s feelings for Jack are more Agape than Eros. However, when we compare Jack’s friendships with Richard and Wolf, the difference becomes more apparent:
Wolf smiled so openly—and yet so wistfully—that Jack was moved to take his hand. It was something he never could have done in his old life, no matter what the circumstances, but that now seemed like his loss. He was glad to take Wolf’s warm, strong hand (234). . . . ‘I love you, Jacky.’ ‘I love you, too, Wolf,’ Jack said, ‘Right here and now.’ (371)

[Jack] reached for Richard. Richard tried to push him away. Jack was having none of that. He held Richard. The two of them stood that way in the middle of the deserted railroad bed for awhile. Richard’s head on Jack’s shoulder (507–508). . . .Then Richard fell on his knees with his hair in his tired face, and Jack got down there with him, and I can bear to tell you no more—only that they comforted each other as well as they could. (510)

Jack’s affection for his friends is, indeed, Agape. He loves them openly, without reservation. Comparing these friendships with Jack’s reaction to Donny’s adoration—“Donny grinned at him worshipfully, baring those amazing buck teeth. Spit dribbled from the end of his lolling tongue. Jack looked away quickly”—highlights the difference dramatically (321). The imagery is not subtle and it starkly elucidates Agape vs. Eros. During a time when not even our President would acknowledge an epidemic that was killing literally thousands of gay citizens, King and Straub were writing about gay characters who were intelligent, loyal, moral. Perhaps even more meaningful, during a time when the so-called “gay plague” was further ostracizing homosexuals, further designating them as “Other,” and encouraging more people to feel justified in their homophobia, King and Straub were writing a novel that contains not only open, affectionate, loving friendships between male characters, but gay characters (however minor) who possessed both innocence and dignity.

Today, AIDS is still a prominent health issue, now for people of both gay and straight orientations. But it is just one of many, many issues that are relevant to gays in the twenty-first century. Today the LGBT community (with help from its allies) is fighting for the right to adopt, the right to marry, domestic partner benefits, and anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation. The hate crimes to which Morgan so flippantly alluded still occur, and civil rights for gay people are at the forefront of the so-called “culture wars” in America. The reactions of Sunlight Gardener and his minions upon catching Jack and Wolf in the bathroom stall—“I don’t even want to touch him. He’s a sinner. And he’s a queer” (366)—the torture and murder that follow, happen every year, every month, every week in America. On his website, Straub, whose novel In the Night Room has a gay protagonist (a novelist and combat veteran), reflects on the very real danger that often comes with being gay in America, saying, “Thinking back to what elementary school and high school were like, I think that it probably takes a great deal of courage to grow up gay in this country. This reflection always contributes a degree of admiration to my relationships with gay men and women.”

During the 80s, though the American government did not seem to be concerned with the troubles of our most desperate citizens, it was extremely concerned with peoples in other countries, especially those whose leaders happened to be leftist or socialist. Robert Parry reports that during his years in the White House, “Reagan found virtually every anticommunist action justified, no matter how brutal.” Reagan interfered with every leftist or socialist government he could in Central America, funding “hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid” to conservative forces and dictatorial governments (Parry): “The death toll was staggering— . . . possibly 20,000 slain from the contra war in Nicaragua, about 200 political ‘disappearances’ in Honduras and some 100,000 people eliminated during a resurgence of political violence in Guatemala.” A “CIA-inspired torture manual surfaced from El Salvador,” and Reagan backed the Mozambique National Resistance, which “perpetrated ghastly massacres” that were ignored by the U.S. Government (Cockburn). The reports of what happened in Guatemala under Reagan’s watch (and with his funding) are biblical in scale:
. . . cruelty of the most extreme forms carried out by agents of the State; genocide committed by the State against the Mayan peoples; a National Security Doctrine based on racism which targeted Mayans and all political opposition for elimination; . . . large number[s] of girls and boys who were victims of violent cruelty and murder, . . . special brutality directed against women, especially against Mayan women, who were tortured, raped and murdered. (“Guatemala’s Memory of Silence”)

Mayan communities were “exterminated”; livestock and crops were destroyed (Parry). Father Miguel D'Escoto, Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister in the 1980s, calls Ronald Reagan “the Butcher of [his] people,” and says that in Guatemala “about 200,000 civilians were massacred [by] death squads,” and 70,000 more were killed in El Salvador.

Given Stephen King’s history of anti-war activism, it is not surprising that he would co-author a book that would contain analogies to America’s many atrocities in foreign lands during Reagan’s presidency. “[B]oth the Territories and America itself are governed by some version of the Morgan business ethic,” says Tony Magistrale, “The American capitalist has been setting the tone for society since the start of this country, and in exporting the doctrine of oppressed labor to the Territories, Morgan Sloat represents the most contemporary illustration of capitalist imperialism” (“Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination” 117). Though Morgan’s plans for the Territories are hazy, we can guess at what they are. He has already brought weaponry to the land, and has begun using slave labor in the mines. His “taking” of Wolf’s sister brings to mind the raping of the Guatemalan women (or any spoils of war). That Sunlight’s Twinner, Osmond, has a mutant, half-breed son only further solidifies this image. Morgan has “made himself a place” in the Territories, and he means to get rich off of its resources after he overthrows the Queen (The Talisman 231–234). The primitive agricultural society of the Territories seems to represent smaller, weaker nations in which America was involved during the entire decade of the 80s. Magistrale, who calls The Talisman “a specific indictment of the Reagan legacy,” writes that King and Straub “shaped Morgan in Ronald Reagan’s image” (“Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination” 120). And Morgan’s willingness to allow his own son to die in order to “profit the world” (The Talisman 552) shows the fury that King and Straub must have held for their country’s leaders.

Stephen Kinzer’s recent book, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, tells us that American Imperialism is nothing new:
Hawaii
Cuba
Philippines
Puerto Rico
Nicaragua
Honduras
Iran
Guatemala
South Vietnam
Chile
Grenada
Panama
Afghanistan
Iraq

What do these 14 governments have in common?
You got it.
The United States overthrew them.
And in almost in every case, the overthrow can be traced to corporate interests. (Mokhiber and Weissman)

Today, charges of “American Imperialism” resound throughout the world. In the U.S. territory of Saipan, factories “forc[ed] women to have abortions and treated workers like indentured servants” (Ross). Nike’s reputation for unethical labor practices is well-known, and Philips-Van Heusen, the Gap, Wal-Mart, Reebok, and Disney all “contract out their production to overseas manufacturers whose labor rights violations have been exposed by U.S. and international human rights groups” (Given). America’s occupation in Iraq is becoming increasingly unpopular, and the recent press conferences regarding Iran are only worsening America’s already bad reputation. King and Straub’s message in The Talisman is as relevant today as it was twenty-two years ago.

In “Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination: The Talisman,” Magistrale says that one of the hard lessons that Jack learns on his journey is the “economic and psychological bondage” that Reagan’s America placed on the less fortunate (117), those whom King describes as “the ebb and flow of an underclass, the dregs of society, the roadies who are put upon by other people, the unhomed and homeless drifting just below everybody’s sight” (qtd. in Winter 145). King and Straub’s description of Oatley, New York, with its “shabby” buildings, its factories with “dingy” or broken windows, businesses with boarded over windows, and houses with “sagging porches” and “neglected” yards highlights the desolation and poverty that some American towns began experiencing in the 1980s: “The fields were brown and bare, and the houses were not farmhouses. . . . No cows lowed, no horses whinnied—there were no animals, and no farm equipment” (The Talisman 123–126). Towns like Oatley still exist in our own twenty-first-century, especially in America’s “heartland.” What Thomas Frank calls “brutal economic processes” have created “trailer park cities, dilapidated and unpaved and rubbish-strewn,” and his description of Garden City, Kansas—an “industrialized agriculture” town since 1984—is eerily similar to Oatley, New York: “Take a drive through the countryside here, and you will see no trees, no picturesque old windmills or bridges or farm buildings, and almost no people” (53). Urban Anthropology reports that Garden City is in danger of a “ ‘permanent breakdown’ in middle-class life” (qtd. in Frank 54). Blaming Garden City’s desperate situation on Ronald Reagan’s presidency may be too simplistic (and some would say erroneous). However, King and Straub were certainly pointing to Reagan’s trickle-down economic policies, corporate monopolies, and rampant free market deregulation as correlatives of Oatley’s economic squalor. As Magistrale points out:
[I]t is no coincidence that the dark evils of both Morgan Sloat and Morgan [of] Orris emerge from the west coast and head east, roughly paralleling Ronald Reagan’s political ascendancy in California and eventual consolidation of power in Washington D.C. (“Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination” 120)

In 1984, when readers compared the Territories to Oatley, they were reminded of “the world America once was before it was spoiled by the business ethics of modern capitalism” (Magistrale, Landscape of Fear 104). And today, when we compare the Territories to Garden City, we are reminded of the same.

In a panel discussion in 2002, Stephen King said that the “three or four strong points” regarding his activism were: “protest the war, protest poverty, protest discrimination against women” (qtd. in Smith). King only listed three of his four points; however, his graduation announcement in his college newspaper column “King’s Garbage Truck,” says that his future prospects are “Hazy, although nuclear annihilation or environmental strangulation seems to be a distinct possibility” (Beahm, The Stephen King Companion 20). This statement makes it pretty clear that King would have listed nuclear energy/waste and other anti-environmental polices as his fourth concern. Straub, too, worries about America’s negative impact on the environment. The “infection” that American culture inflicts on the Territories reflects Straub’s view of the American frontier as not a land of “promising potential,” but rather a landscape of “frightening vastness with an unaccountable history and disposition all its own” (Bosky 70–71). Bosky writes that “most of Straub’s novels” reflect “shame and guilt from the land,” and lists If You Could See Me Now, Floating Dragon, and Ghost Story as examples of this (71).

Pollution in America has been a problem since the dawn of the Industrial Age, but it has steadily risen at an increasingly accelerated rate since the 1950s, when the worldwide growth of automobile ownership rose at a “dizzying” pace: “from less than a million in 1910 to 100 million by 1955 and half a billion by 1995,” and which, in turn, burned 700 billion barrels of oil (Hunter 51). Cars have become America’s primary source of transportation, and this “heavy reliance . . . accounts for a large proportion of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere” (Gore 326). As carbon-dioxide emissions grow, so does the Earth’s temperature, and Greenpeace’s Robert Hunter says that in 1983, the U.S. National Academy of the Sciences (NAS) reported that “a doubling of CO2 would raise the world’s temperature by between 1.4 and 4.5 degrees Celsius” (76). Sadly, the Reagan administration ignored warnings of a global environmental crisis, and even removed the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed on the roof of the White House (Conlan). Reagan also appointed James Watt as Secretary of Interior from 1981–1983. As Secretary of Interior, Watt oversaw the “management of nearly 500 million acres of public land” (St. Clair). Watt is reported to have “proposed the sale of 30 million acres of public lands to private companies”; he ignored the strip mine laws, held up our coal resources, our national parks, and Outer Continental Shelf oil reserves for the highest bidder, and disregarded the Endangered Species Act. And he “purged the Interior Department of any employees who objected to his agenda” (St. Clair). Watt is a millennialist Christian, and he truly believed that “conservation of resources for future generations amounted to a waste of ‘God’s gift to mankind’ ” (St. Clair). Watt “gave away billions in public timber, coal and oil to favored corporations, leaving behind toxic scars where there used to be wild forests, trout streams and deserts,” and Reagan once said to the Sierra Club Foundation’s David Brower that “Once you’ve seen one redwood, you’ve seen them all” (qtd. in St. Clair). Reagan’s blatantly dismissive statement regarding a national treasure—said in 1980 during his election campaign—brings to mind Jack and Richard’s walk through the California redwoods, “conspicuously smaller” than their Territories counterparts, and containing tunnels, cut into their trunks, large enough for cars to drive through (The Talisman 627).

Magistrale writes that “by the conclusion of the novel Jack is as radical a twelve-year-old environmentalist” as has been written since Huck Finn (“Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination” 121-122). Perhaps Jack’s dawning awareness of America’s predicament is modeled on King’s own experience of changing from a “conservative who voted for Nixon in 1968 to becoming what he termed a ‘scummy radical bastard’ ” (Beahm, A Stephen King Companion 21). It is with Jack Sawyer’s first swallow of Speedy Parker’s foul-tasting wine, his first “flip” into the Territories, that we first read King and Straub’s lament for the Earth’s environmental destruction. Jack tastes “amazingly sweet, amazingly good” blackberries (The Talisman 48), sleeps in “sweetly fragrant Territories haystacks,” and enjoys the “clear” Territories air (174). It isn’t long before Jack realizes the atmosphere of the planet is thoroughly polluted:
The world, this world, stank. . . . Gasoline, other nameless poisons floated in the air; and the air itself stank of exhaustion, fatigue—even the noises roaring up from the highway punished this dying air. (197)

Jack also experiences the Territories’ Blasted Lands, what Magistrale calls “both a reflection of the nuclear tests conducted by the army in Arizona and Nevada, as well as a dark prognosis for America’s larger future” (“Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination” 121). Indeed, it is understood before he is killed that Wolf, who we’ve seen weep and retch in response to the stench and filth of America, has been weakened and will die from his prolonged stay in the Sunlight Home (The Talisman 332). Even Morgan of Orris is incapable of staying in America for too long, lest he suffer serious allergic reactions (428). And Queen Laura DeLoessian, the “visible symbol of her world’s slow collapse” (Magistrale, “Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination” 121), is one of The Talisman’s several allusions to Arthurian Legend. Queen Laura’s name suggests her ties to the earth; the German löss means “of the earth” (Winter 147), and the English “loess,” etymologically derived from the German, means “an earthy substance deposited by the wind.” The Queen’s symbolic name distinguishes her as more than just a means to save Jack’s mother; she is also a warning that we are the land we are polluting.

With warnings of peak oil and melting icebergs in the news, environmental problems seem even more dire now than they were in the 1980s. The chemical waste dumped in our landfills is another profoundly troubling issue: “[A]nnual production of organic chemicals soured from 1 million tons in 1930 to 7 million tons in 1950, 63 million in 1970, and half a billion in 1990” (Gore 147-148). Al Gore—a U.S. Senator in 1984—writes:
Global warming, ozone depletion, the loss of living species, deforestation—they all have a common cause: the new relationship between human civilization and the earth’s natural balance. (31)

The Talisman reflects Gore’s position. The Blasted Lands are as recognizable today as they were twenty-two years ago. Wolf’s outraged reaction to the stink of our pollution, and Jack’s eventual recognition of it are everyday reality to many people in cities and town around the world. One wonders, if King and Straub were writing The Talisman today, if the money in Speedy’s suitcase would be sufficient for Jack and Richard to buy enough gas for the Cadillac to drive them back to Arcadia Beach.

The contemporary cultural issues that Stephen King and Peter Straub included in The Talisman are still relevant, important issues that Americans are grappling with today. They echo the four “strong points” that King fought for in college; they echo the concerns and social criticism of other novels that Straub has published. This was not what fans of King and Straub had expected. They had anticipated “straightforward horror,” but received instead “critiques of contemporary politicians and writers, of social and economic conditions” (Beahm, The Stephen King Companion 249). But this surprise did not harm sales. The Talisman sold 880,287 copies by the end of 1984 (Publishers Weekly). Moreover, though the contemporary reviews from critics were mixed, in “the decade that has followed its first appearance, The Talisman has emerged to be ranked as one of King’s (and Straub’s) stronger novels” (Beahm, The Stephen King Companion 249–250). And in 2001, when King and Straub published The Talisman’s sequel, Black House, readers who perhaps had not read The Talisman were treated with a story that was still surprisingly relevant to today’s cultural and political climate. To me, this is what is special about The Talisman. It is not dated; its themes are as meaningful today as they were when it was first published. The irony is, if this was (or has been) ever brought to their attention, I doubt that King and Straub would be happy. In 2002, King reflected on his generation’s social and political apathy:
Sometimes I’m not a big fan of my generation. I think the impact of the activism can be overrated. To my mind, a lot of people—even the people involved in the anti-war movement—moved to the center in politics later on. I think an awful lot of people got involved with, ‘How much money can I make?’ and, ‘God, I know that Reagan’s politics are a little bit Neanderthal, but Jesus, he is good for the economy. My portfolio is getting so big. Not only can I afford to put my kids through school, but I can afford some blow.’ (qtd. in Smith)

The Talisman is a mirror held up to this value system. It is biting social criticism, and I would venture to guess that, if given the choice, King and Straub would rather it lose its impressive timelessness.



Sources Cited

Beahm, George. Stephen King from A to Z: An Encyclopedia of His Life and Work. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1998.

---, ed. The Stephen King Companion. Rev. ed. Kansas City: Andrews and McMeel, 1995.

Bosky, Bernadette. “Stephen King and Peter Straub: Fear and Friendship.” Discovering Stephen King. Ed. Darrell Schweitzer. Starmont Studies in Literary Criticism Ser. 8, Mercer Island: Starmont House, 1985. 55–82.

Conlan, Mark Gabrish. “Reagan’s Dark Legacy.” san diego indy media. 24 June 2004. The San Diego Independent Media Center. SanDiegoIndyMedia.org

D'Escoto, Miguel. Interview. “Reagan Was the Butcher of My People.” DemocracyNow! The War and Peace Report. 8 June 2004. Pacifica Radio Foundation. 10 May 2006. DemocracyNow.org

“Edwards speaks at UMaine rally, criticizes Cheney.” USA Today. 8 Sep 2004. The Associated Press. 7 May 2006. USAToday.com

Frank, Thomas. What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America. New York: Henry Holt, 2004.

Given, Olivia. “Feminists Against Sweatshops.” Feminist Majority Foundation Online. Sep. 1997. Feminist Majority Foundation. 9 May 2006. Feminist.org

Gore, Al. Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.

“Guatemala’s Memory of Silence.” Central America and Mexico Report. February 1999. Religious Task Force on Central America and Mexico. 8 May 2006. RTFCAM.com

Guran, Paula. Review. DarkEcho.com. 2002. Dark Echo Horror. 7 May 2006. DarkEcho.com

Hunter, Robert. Thermageddon: Countdown to 2030. New York: Arcade, 2003.

James, John S. “Ronald Reagan Remembered.” AEGiS: HIV Today. 12 June 2004. AIDS Education Global Information System. 7 May 2006. AEGiS.com

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. New York: Pocket Books, 2000.

King, Stephen and Peter Straub. The Talisman. New York: Viking, 1984.

Magistrale, Tony. Landscape of Fear: Stephen King’s American Gothic. Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988.

---, ed. “Science, Politics, and the Epic Imagination: The Talisman.The Dark Descent: Essays Defining Stephen King’s Horrorscape. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992. 113–127.

Mokhiber, Russell and Robert Weissman. “Overthrow.” Common Dreams News Center. 22 Apr 2006. Common Dreams. 9 May 2006. CommonDreams.org

Parry, Robert. “Reagan & Guatemala’s Death Files.” May/June 1999. Third World Traveler. 6 May 2006. ThirdWorldTraveler.com

Publishers Weekly. “Over a Century of Publishers Weekly® Bestsellers: 1984.” BooksInPrint.com. 2006. R. R. Bowker LLC. 9 Mar. 2006. BooksInPrint.com

Ross, Brian. Interview. “Forced Abortions & Sweatshops: A Look at Jack Abramoff's Ties to the South Pacific Island of Saipan & How Tom DeLay Became An Advocate for Sweatshop Factory Owners.” DemocracyNow! The War and Peace Report. 4 Jan 2006. Pacifica Radio Foundation. DemocracyNow.org

St. Clair, Jeffrey. “The Nature of Ronald Reagan: Will the Earth Accept His Corpse?” CounterPunch.org. 8 June 2004. Ed. Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair. 6 May 2006. CounterPunch.org

Shilts, Randy. And the Band Played On. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987.

Smith, Christopher. “Stephen King on the '60s: Reflections of a campus activist.” UMaine Today: Creativity and Achievement at the University of Maine. Ed. Margaret Nagle. UMaine Today 1.2 (December 2001/January 2002). University of Maine System. 6 May 2006. UMaineToday

“So little time . . . An AIDS History.” AEGiS: HIV Today. 7 May 2006. AIDS Education Global Information System. 7 May 2006. AEGiS.com

Straub, Peter. Interview. “Frequently Asked Questions About Peter Straub.” 6 Feb 2006. PeterStraub.net. 9 May 2006. PeterStraub.net

Winter, Douglas E. Stephen King: The Art of Darkness. New York: New American Library, 1984.
Supplementary Materials
An image of the 2001 hardcover editionS1img191060309140708.jpg
An image of the 2001 paperback editionS2img191060301104628.jpg
Photo of King and Straub on the first edition dust jacket back flap, taken by Andrew UnangstS3img191060309140708.jpg
Photo of Stephen KingS4img191060401150704.jpg
Photo of Peter StraubS5img191060401150704.jpg
On first edition dust jacket back flap: Jacket design © Neil Stuart, 1984 | Jacket lettering by David Gatti
The band Salem Hill has released a song based on The Talisman titled “Between The Two,” which can be found on their self-titled album, Salem Hill #1:

BETWEEN THE TWO

The queenie and the actress
say they want you back
they’re dying as you’re leaving
but all worlds have their Jacks
who will sacrifice his hand
so they break the bank
they’re ready and they’re waiting
to make you walk the plank

In the other world
is another you
A familiar place
with a different view
You’re not quite the same
you’re not totally new
slipping back and forth
in between the two

The flip world and
the known one
have their tricks and traps
they’re loaded and ready
but you know that perhaps
you can sabotage their dreams
and their quest to rule
you’re ready but frightened
you know what to do

The magical and the technical
have their place In time
it’s mystic and it’s knowledge
but most of it sublime
to be recognized by men
and you have the skill
the power and the reason
but do you have the will?

Words by William Neagle, Music by Carl Groves
Copyright 1992 Songs from the Hill, SESAC

Salem Hill
The Talisman has an exceptionally large cast of characters, and Stephen King’s official website lists them all. Below is the list, complete and unedited:


Gloria
Worked at Smoky Updike’s bar

Larry
CPA who was on the road with his family

Lori
Girlfriend of Smokey Updike

Rudolph
Cook in Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Timmy
At mall with girls.

Abelson, Peter
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Adams, Billy
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Anders
Depot Keeper in the Territories

Atwell, Carlton (Digger)
Chief of police who frequented Smoky Updikes bar

Aubrey, ?
Fake stepfather of Jack Sawtelle (Jack Sawyer)

Balgo, Mr.
Jack Sawyer’s computer teacher

Banberry, Minette
Owner of the “Golden Spoon” in Auburn

Bast, Hector
Steward in Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Bledsoe, Jerry
Service station attendant and handyman for Sawyer and Sloat

Bledsoe, Nita
Wife of Jerry

Boynton, ?
Security guard at Thayer School

Brady, Diamond Jim
Mentioned by Jack Sawyer

Buckley, ?
At Thayer School

Calhoun, Haystack
Wrestler

Casey, ?
Worked in Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Cassidy, Tom
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Cavanaugh, Lily
Maiden name of Lily Sawyer

Chang, Lorette
Saw Jerry Bledsoe die

Clark, ?
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Darrent, Bob
Gave Jack Saywer a ride. District high school Superintendent

Davey, Bruce
Killed in Angola earthquake

DeLoessian, Jason
Son of the queen of the Territories, who died at birth. Jack Sawyer’s twinner

DeLoessian, Queen Laura
Queen of the Territories. Mother of Jason. The woman who Jack Sawyer has to save along with his mother

Destry, Alan
Frightened to death

Dondorf, Asher
Client of Sloat. Actor

Dufrey, Mr.
Principal of Thayer school

Duggan, Andrew
Actor

Elam, Jack
Actor

Ella Speed
Carousel Horse at the Arcadia Funworld

Ellis, Andy
Character in Lily Sawyer’s movie “Last train to Hangtown”

Ellis, Rafe
Character in Lily Sawyer’s movie “Last train to Hangtown”

Elroy
A nasty pedophilic shape-changer with hooves

Etheridge, ?
In Thayer School

Fairchild, Judge Ernest
Judge in Cayuga. Puts Wolf and Jack in Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Farren, Lewis
The captain of the outer guard, who helps Jack in the Territories. Also the name Jack Sawyer uses while travelling.

Feeney, Mrs.
Jack Sawyer overheard her talking about Jerry Bledsoe

Ferguson, Tom
Gave Jack Sawyer a ride. Shoe shop foreman

Frazer, Coach
Coach at Thayer School

Gardiner, Reuel
Son of Reverend Gardiner. Went to school at the Thayer school

Gardiner, Reverend Sunlight
Twinner of Osmond. Evil man who runs Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Gargan, Joseph
Writer for Angola Herald

Garson, ?
At Thayer School

Glover, Randy
College friend of Phillip Sawyer

Gordon, Dexter
Sax Player

Hagen, Michael
Killed in Angola Earthquake

Hallas, Judge
Told Snowball where he could busk for money

Hatfield, George
Expelled from Thayer School

Hatfield, Mr.
Father of George

Haywood, Mr.
At Nelson’s house

Heidel, Robert
Killed in Angola Earthquake

Henry
Gave Jack Sawyer a lift in the Territories. Father of Jason

Henry, Mrs.
Wife of Henry

Humbert, Albert
Fat kid in Thayer School

Hunkins, Mr.
Math teacher in Thayer School

Hutchins, Will
Actor

Irwinson, George
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Janklow, Ferd
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Jason
Son of Henry

Keegan, Donald
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Kiger, Myles P.
Gave Jack a lift, and a coat

Lewis
Name given to Osmond as the name of Jack Sawyer, the son of Lewis Farren

Lewis, Brandon
Went to school with Jack Sawyer. Had a speech Impediment

Light, Emory W.
Gave Jack a ride. President of the First Mercantile bank of Paradise Falls

Littlefield, ?
At Thayer School

Margaret
Wife of Morgan of Orris

Martin, Bill
Mentioned in a song sung by Speedy Parker

Midnight
Carousel Horse at the Arcadia Funworld

Morgan of Orris
Evil twinner of Morgan Sloat.

Morton, ?
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Norrington, ?
At Thayer School

Oates, Buster
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Olafson, Mr.
Worked at the Buckeye Mall

Osmond
Morgan of Orris’s right hand man. Possibly smothered Jason DeLoessian.

Owdersfelt, Mrs.
Mother of Roy

Owdersfelt, Roy
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Palamountain, Elbert
Jack Sawyer worked on his farm

Palamountain, Mrs.
Wife of Elbert

Parker, Jack
Name used by Jack Sawyer

Parker, Lester (Speedy)
Jack’s friend who taught him how to “flip” between worlds. Blues musician

Parkins, Billy
Youngest son of Buddy Parkins

Parkins, Buddy
Driver who gave Lewis Farren (Jack Sawyer) a lift

Parkins, Emmie
Wife of Buddy Parkus Lester Parker’s Twinner

Peabody, Bobby
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Pedersen, ?
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Rasmussen, Theodore
Missing after Angola earthquake

Rushton
Son of Morgan of Orris.

Sawtelle, Jack
Name given to Smokey Updike by Jack Sawyer

Sawtelle, Prince Philip
Twinner of Phillip Sawyer. Killed by Orris shortly after birth

Sawyer, Jack (John Benjamin)
Twelve-year-old Travelin’ Jack that has to find the Talisman in order to save the queen and his mother, and possibly the world.

Sawyer, Lily Cavanaugh
Queen of the B Movies. Mother of Jack. Actress in “Death’s Darling”, “Blaze”, “Last train to Hangtown”.

Sawyer, Philip
Father of Jack. Died in hunting accident

Schulkamp, Arnold
Missing after Angola earthquake

Scoffler, Hank
Friend of Jack Sawyer

Scoffler, Mrs.
Mother of Hank

Scout
Carousel Horse at the Arcadia Funworld

Silver Lady
Carousel Horse at the Arcadia Funworld

Simon
Guard in the Territories

Singer, Sonny
Steward In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Skarda, Vernon
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Sloat, Gordon
Father of Morgan. Lutheran minister

Sloat, Morgan
An evil manipulator, Twinner of Morgan of Orris. Father of Richard. Partner of Phillip Sawyer

Sloat, Richard Llewell
Good friend of Jack Sawyer

Snowball
Blind man who sung. Looked like Speedy Parker

Stephen
Delivered ale to village until his carriage overturned and the ale was spilled.

Stevens, Inger
Actress

Temkin, Victor
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Thayer, Andrew
In Thayer School

Thayer, Elder
In Thayer School

Thielke, Thomas
Killed in Angola Earthquake

Thompson, Bill (Buck)
Gave Wolf and Jack a ride

Thudfoot, Morgan
Morgan Sloat’s Twinner. Also known as Morgan of Orris

Updike, Smokey
Owner of Oatley’s Tap bar where Jack worked.

Van Pelt, Armin
Worked in New York University Geology Department

Van Zandt, ?
Urinated on beds in Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Vaughan, Helen
Fake aunt that Jack Sawyer was travelling to find. His mother’s sister

Walker, Clint
Actor

Warwick, Andy
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Wild, Jerome
Killed in Angola Earthquake

Williams, Officer Frank B.
Took Wolf and Jack to Judge in Chayuga

Wolf
Jack’s werewolf friend

Wolf, Phillip Jack
Name Jack Sawyer uses for Wolf

Woodbine, Thomas
Uncle of Jack Sawyer who was killed by a car. Homosexual. He was killed by order of Morgan Sloat

Woodruff, Benny
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

Yellin, ?
In Reverend Gardiner’s Home for Wayward Boys

StephenKing.com
Stephen King

Awards and Honors


2005 Quill Award
Best Sports, for Faithful

2004 World Fantasy Award
Lifetime Achievement Award

2003 Bram Stoker Award
Fiction Collection, for Everything’s Eventual (Nominated)

2003 Horror Guild
Best Novel, for From A Buick 8

2003 Horror Writers Association
Lifetime Achievement Award

2003 National Book Foundation
Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Recipient
King’s acceptance speech

2002 Bram Stoker Award
Novel, From a Buick 8 (Nominated)

2002 Horror Guild
Best Novel, Black House

2001 Bram Stoker Award
Novel, for Black House (Nominated)

2001 Horror Guild
Best Non-Fiction, On Writing

2001 Locus Award
Best Non-Fiction, for On Writing

2000 Bram Stoker Award
Long Fiction, for Riding the Bullet (Nominated)

2000 World Fantasy Award
Collection, for Hearts in Atlantis (Nominated)

1999 Bram Stoker Award
Novel, for Low Men in Yellow Coats (Nominated)

1999 Locus Award
Best Novel, for Bag of Bones

1998 Bram Stoker Award
Best Novel, for Bag of Bones

1997 Bram Stoker Award
Long Fiction, for Everything’s Eventual (Nominated)

1997 Horror Guild Award
Best Novel, for Desperation

1997 Locus Award
Best Novel, for Desperation

1996 Bram Stoker Award
Best Novel, for The Green Mile

1996 O. Henry Award
Best Short Story, for “The Man in the Black Suit”

1995 Bram Stoker Award
Best Long Fiction, for Lunch at the Gotham Café

1995 World Fantasy Award
Best Short Fiction, for “The Man in the Black Suit”

1994 Bram Stoker Award
Novel, for Insomnia (Nominated)

1993 Bram Stoker Award
Fiction Collection, for Nightmares & Dreamscapes (Nominated)

1991 Bram Stoker Award
Novel, for Needful Things (Nominated)

1990 Bram Stoker Award
Long Fiction, for The Langoliers (Nominated)

1988 Bram Stoker Award
Long Fiction, for The Night Flier (Nominated)

1988 World Fantasy Award
Novel, for Misery (Nominated)

1987 Bram Stoker Award
Best Novel, for Misery (Tie)

1987 World Fantasy Award
Novel, for IT (Nominated)
Short Fiction, for “The End of the Whole Mess” (Nominated)

1986 Locus Award
Best Collection, for Skeleton Crew

1986 World Fantasy Award
Collection/Anthology, for Skeleton Crew (Nominated)

1985 World Fantasy Award
Novel, for The Talisman (Nominated)
Novella, for The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet (Nominated)

1984 World Fantasy Award
Novel, for Pet Sematary (Nominated)

1983 World Fantasy Award
Collection/Anthology, for Different Seasons (Nominated)
Novella, for The Breathing Method (Nominated)

1982 Hugo Award
Best Non-Fiction, for Danse Macabre

1982 Locus Award
Best Non-Fiction, for Danse Macabre

1982 World Fantasy Award
Best Short Fiction, for “Do the Dead Sing?”

1981 World Fantasy Award
Novel, for The Mist (Nominated)

1980 Nebula Award
Novella, for The Way Station (Nominated)

1979 World Fantasy Award
Collection/Anthology, for Night Shift (Nominated)
Novel, for The Stand (Nominated)

1976 World Fantasy Award
Novel, for 'Salem’s Lot (Nominated)

StephenKing.com
Peter Straub

Awards and Honors


2003 Bram Stoker Award
Best Novel, for Lost Boy Lost Girl

2003 International Horror Guild Award
Best Novel, for Lost Boy Lost Girl

2000 Bram Stoker Award
Fiction Collection, for Magic Terror

1999 Bram Stoker Award
Best Novel, for Mr. X

1998 International Horror Guild Award
Best Long Form, for Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff

1998 Grand Master at World Horror Convention
(TK City)

1998 Bram Stoker Award
Best Long Fiction, for Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff

1994 British Fantasy Award
Best Novel, for Floating Dragon

1993 World Fantasy Award
Best Novella, for The Ghost Village

1993 Bram Stoker Award
Best Novel, for The Throat

1989 World Fantasy Award
Best Novel, for Koko

PeterStraub.net

Bestsellers
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