My first reaction to my first encounter with the plot of Secret Window, Secret Garden was disappointment at the use of what felt like a cheap and unimaginative plot device. Admittedly, this was from seeing the film adaptation; where the strength of the whole piece can rest on the whether the big reveal elicits appreciative surprise or a groan.
Seeing the film, I groaned. From there, the book didn't have much of a chance. I'm definitely on team 'book before film' and this was a sucker punch from that corner. That said, when I saw the film, I saw it on the strength of it being a King adaptation (and there are worse actors than Depp and Turturro) and I wasn't expecting to be reading it all these years down the line, so it's just one I'll have to put down to experience. I'll be approaching The Green Mile and 1408 with some trepidation and hope that having seen the films doesn't spoil the read.
Anyway, enough about the film. I'll be watching it again soon enough so it will be getting a post all of its own in due course.
My second reaction to Secret Window, Secret Garden (this time from the reading) is surprise at its proximity to The Dark Half. I think one compounds the other but I'm talking both thematically and temporally. I know the founding ideas differ (pseudonym vs. plagiarism) but in both there is the physical manifestation of the mental concept. Their being published so close together makes it hard for me fully extricate them from comparison.
Saying that, I'm not going to examine this comparison. This is a blog post, not a thesis (and I'm a mental sloth with a flair for indolence.) Instead, I'll just talk a little more about the plagiarism personified, so to speak. I don't know enough about mental illness to judge the accuracy of someone being so plagued by the guilt of previously passing someone else's work off as their own to bring the need and search for retribution upon themselves but it had more plausibility and logic than The Dark Half. While I know the former isn't an essential ingredient in the fantasy genre, surely the latter is one of the fine threads suspending our disbelief. I preferred this story to The Dark Half. The 'ghostly' epilogue aside, Secret Window, Secret Guardian wasn't nearly so divorced from reality as The Dark Half, which drifted towards the absurd. This last point shouldn't be important, but I decided to let it be here.
I wonder whether its the conflict between the close realism of King's writing (in that he sucks you into the reality of his plots through the detail of his writing) and the fantastical elements. By that I mean that his worlds seem so real, I sometimes apply the same laws of possibility as I do to ours e.g. there's no such thing as the supernatural. Shit, that would be like a thousand nails in the coffin of my suspension of disbelief and stop this mission in its tracks. Not cool.
Or is it more a problem of age and application of imagination? I say application rather than ability as I don't suffer from the same problem when watching films or reading comics. Must. Try. Harder.
The Wikipedia page for the book describes Mort (and Thad) as a thinly veiled analogue of himself. The more I read of his books, the more I realise he puts of himself in them. Actually writing that makes it sound an incredibly facile observation. It stands to reason and is something you take for granted but unless you're told or take the time to read around a book, you wouldn't know the specifics. I certainly don't think it's necessary to see what lies behind the curtain and we've all read any number of books without knowing the first thing about the author, but I'm not averse to a bit of author/work trivia.
I'll finish with an apology for the length of this entry, heartfelt thanks for your reading it and this link on the subject of plagiarism, this time levelled at King himself -