It’s October, one of my favorite months for stories, even though most October stories have a tie to the supernatural. So it only seems right to start off with a story by one of the writers most associated with scary stories: Stephen King.
At its essence, marriage is a closed corporation. It’s a private entity with its own personality and the principals own all the stock. Sure, often children are born to a marriage and spouses share parts of their lives with others but these people are beneficiaries, not stockholders; if children leave and friends fall away, the corporation continues unless death or divorce intervene, keeping secrets known only to the principals. At least that’s the premise of Lisey’s Story. And those untold secrets are what makes a marriage powerful, even when one of the principals dies.
Lisey Landon is still learning about the strength of her marriage years after her husband, Scott, died. Scott was a successful novelist and the public face of their marriage. His passing left her with a sizable amount of cash, a barn full of books, and some very insensitive academic types that believe their knowledge of Scott Landon’s work gives them superior rights to and understanding of Scott, the man. Only Lisey knows how wrong they are.
Scott’s commitment to his wife is a suggestion why some marriages go the distance, even when one of the principals is famous. Landon treats his fans with kindness and respect but recognizes their view of him is grounded in their response to his stories. In his words, Lisey sees him as himself, a person of both weakness and strength, that is totally separate from his work. Before the world fell in love with Scott’s creations, Lisey fell in love with Scott, not his work, making her one of the few trustworthy souls in his world. And trust her he does with his deepest secrets, the ones where King’s imagination runs dark.
If parents and siblings knew us when we were children, then spouses see how we live with the effects of that childhood . Lisey’s learns of her husband’s fearful background and the genuine affection that can thread through knots of abuse. She also discovers the genetic dynamite her husband carries and the extraordinary abilities and terrors he keeps private. In exchange, Scott gains access to Lisey’s quiet, incredible sense and strength and insight into her long-term dance in a gaggle of sisters. To the public, Scott and Lisey Landon look like an uneven couple but they are a strong, symbiotic team, unaffected by fame or money. The marriage is based on mutual trust they’ve learned to rely on, knowing each will not only keep the other’s secrets but the secrets they hide from themselves.
King fans will find the humor and gruesome scenes in Lisey’s Story that fill many of their favorite author’s books and literary fans will be enchanted by the pool at Boo’ya Moon, the place Scott says all storytellers drink from to find the words and ideas that keep them writing and us reading. But make no mistake, Lisey’s Story is primarily a love song, a hymn for a long, loving marriage. Listen well because songs are all outsiders are allowed to hear. The best of any good marriage remains a privileged secret.