DOCTOR SLEEP Reviewed by Margaret Atwood

Doctor SleepFeatured on the cover of the upcoming NYT Book Review is Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep, (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio; Thorndike). Not only is it a surprise to find the Book Review covering a book by a best-selling author close to publication date (likely the doing of the new editor, Pamela Paul, who began that position in May), but the name of the reviewer is also a surprise, Margaret Atwood.

Perhaps to justify that choice, a callout quotes Atwood’s review, “Some may look skeptically at ‘horror’ as a genre, but it’s one of the most literary of all forms.”

TMaddAddamhis may be the only review of Doctor Sleep that mentions Vladimir Nabokov and Salvador Dali in the first paragraph. Atwood calls it,

… a very good specimen of the quintessential King blend. According to Vladimir Nabokov, Salvador Dali was ‘really Norman Rockwell’s twin brother kidnapped by gypsies in babyhood.’ But actually there were triplets: the third one is Stephen King.”

The review is peppered with literary references. Atwood gives King respect as a  writer, noting that he “loves wordplay and puns and mirror language … The names of King’s characters are frequently appropriate: Daniel ‘Lion’s Den’ Anthony the (the tempted saint) Torrance (it never rains but it pours) is a case in point.” She also gives him respect as entertainer, “by the end of this book, your fingers will be mere stubs of their former selves.”

This may be the only review of Doctor Sleep you need to read (currently, it’s only available in print; it will be online Friday afternoon).

Atwood’s latest book is Maddaddam (RH/Doubleday/Talese), which was reviewed earlier in the NYT Book Review.

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