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That description makes the book sound more coherent than it actually is — as the bad guys have been summoned by the mind of a TV-obsessed autistic boy possessed by an alien being. Concerned with a high-school student who kills two teachers and takes over a classroom, the story is very much the work of an angry young man — overheated and full of big talk. Wisely or not, King allowed the book to go out of print, partly because of a fear of having future school shootings linked to it. Blame its place in the series the relatively slim book serves mainly as a transition volume between two thick volumes or its mind-boggling metafictional flourish.

Either way, it it an odd fit with everything that preceded it. Handcuffed to her cabin bed after her husband dies in the middle of a naughty sex game, Jessie must somehow find a way to escape. The one-room, one-woman setting allows King to overindulge in one of his most recognizable and sometimes frustrating tics: the character who speaks out loud to themselves for no good reason. This novella is a trifle, but King writes lovingly about his favorite game. Yet there is both an authorly tension and bond between King and Straub that results in more lovely passages than the typical lesser King book has any right to offer.

Partially a satirical look at Reagan-era American materalism, the book plays broader than it should, but less funny than King who considers the book a black comedy would have liked. Future kid-centered books would be both scarier and deeper. Edgar loses his arm in a construction accident but gains the ability to make things happen when he paints them. As she wanders, afraid and alone, the only thing to keep her company is her radio, broadcasting a Red Sox game featuring her favorite player. The Shop is a secret government agency that, on account of an experiment it performs on one college campus, inadvertantly creates two students with special powers.

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They marry and have a kid who is capable of wreaking fantastic havoc through her psychic control of fire. With several wonderfully tense set pieces, the book nonetheless has a few too many stationary scenes set in an underground government bunker. I find I can read two pages of a book during each commercial break.

Lovecraft indirectly. A solid late career addition. The climactic confrontation is a prime example of what King does not do well — battle scenes. This book was the turning point, pushed by new publisher Scribner of Fitzgerald and Hemingway fame as a piece of literary, rather than genre, fiction. Henry award in The book was published in , right as the critical shift toward King had approached one of its peaks the following year, he would receive a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation.

Still, for all their literary merit, few of the stories stick in your nerve centers. Because of its interstitial position, though, the book cannot wholly live on its own. The second half of the Bachman-King double feature finds the Lord channeled through a young boy, one who is forced to become a religious leader of sorts for a group of people trapped in a small desert town and hunted by a demon-posessed sheriff. With four books to his credit, Bachman had never written a story with anything approaching the otherworldly, which tipped some off that King and Bachman might be the same.

I want to provoke an emotional, even visceral, reaction in my readers. A multiverse, in the most comic-book sense of the word: The Dark Tower of the title is the thing that holds all realities, all worlds together. The winner is lavished with anything he wants. The whole thing is televised, and the nation watches with sick glee. The difference here is that this time around, he was dealing with one of his most famous books and characters. Partly made so by the Stanley Kubrick movie version that King has spent over three decades insulting.

The man loves baseball! Danny Torrance is all grown up now, and like his old man Jack he likes to drink. He ends up in AA, of which the book and its AA-attending author have much to say, and crosses paths with an evil group called the True Knot, who get their power from killing kids with the shining.

By David Long. This novel's hero, a ghost, looks back ruefully on his suicide and longs to help a woman survive her own despair. By Kiran Desai. The poised story, set in northern India, of disparate characters united by the toxic legacy of colonialism. By Allegra Goodman. A cancer researcher's dubious finding sets off a tidal wave that carries many people away.

By Jennifer Egan. Old grievances drive the plot of this novel, set in a castle and a prison. Egan deftly weaves threads of sordid realism and John Fowles-like magic. Translated by Chris Andrews. The Pinochet years haunt these stories by a Chilean writer who died in By Richard Ford. Frank Bascombe, the mundane hero of Ford's earlier novels "The Sportswriter" and "Independence Day," finds himself afflicted with intimations of mortality. By Stephen King. In this haunting love story, the widow of a celebrated writer takes up arms against a murderous stalker in this world and a blood-hungry beast in the world beyond.

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A man and his son travel across a post-apocalyptic landscape in this terrifying parable. By Lisa Fugard. A white farm family is the foreground of this novel; behind it, the sins of South Africa. By Marisha Pessl. A motherless waif whose life has been shaped by road trips with her father joins a circle of students around a charismatic teacher with a tragic secret. By Mary Gordon. Motifs from Gordon's life, particularly the pain of childhood grief, resurface throughout this collection. By Galway Kinnell. Kinnell's first collection of new poems in more than a decade revisits themes of marriage, friendship and death, with long, loose lines reminiscent of Whitman.

Translated by Sandra Smith. But the manuscripts came to light only in the late '90s. By John Updike. By Leila Aboulela. A Muslim widow's love for an agnostic Scottish Islamic scholar allows her to nourish a hope for happiness. By Deborah Eisenberg. A contemporary master of the short story leavens familial angst with mordant humor in her fifth collection in 20 years.

By Heidi Julavits. A teenage girl is either a victim or a false accuser in this dark-humored novel of psychoanalysis and prep school angst. Translated by Hillel Halkin. This novel's hero journeys to return a woman's body to her family in a remote former Soviet Republic. By Donald Antrim. Antrim's memoir reckons with his complicated grief at the death of his emotionally volatile, alcoholic mother. By Francis Fukuyama. Parting ways with fellow neocons, Fukuyama censures their blunders and those of the Bush administration, and offers advice for the future.

By David Nasaw. Nasaw's colorful biography reveals a far from conventional capitalist. By Taylor Branch. The third volume, remarkable for its breadth and detail, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's history of the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. A fond reckoning of her marriages, affairs, friendships and movies. By Michael Lewis. From the mean streets to salvation by football: a schoolboy's story. By Hampton Sides. A history of this country's brutal Westward expansion, with Kit Carson at its center.

By Patricia Hampl. A memoir of Hampl's quest for art with transcendent power.


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By David Maraniss. A Pulitzer Prize winner whose previous subjects have included Vince Lombardi and Bill Clinton turns to baseball's first Latino superstar. By David Foster Wallace. Magazine articles with a moral framework. By Matthew Stewart.


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    A historian's account of the horrors spawned by the infamous storm, many of them man-made. By Frank Rich. The Times columnist indicts the Bush administration's approach to message management. By Darrin M. A tour of Western philosophy and its efforts to understand that sought-after yet most elusive of states.

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