Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Following fifteen previous Stephen King horror novels, including the immensely popular Carrie (1974), ’Salem’s Lot (1975), and The Shining (1977), The Dark Half exploits fictions within fiction and paranormal phenomena that mystify and terrorize a cast of plausible characters.
Thad Beaumont, the protagonist, has been a successful novelist whose most popular works were written under the pseudonym “George Stark.” Writing as Stark, Beaumont created a fearsome embodiment of evil, a ruthless, robotlike killer named Alexis Machine. The gruesome fictional horrors perpetrated by Machine were responsible for Beaumont/Stark’s sales and literary notoriety.
Trouble begins, however, when Beaumont determines to abandon his Stark pseudonym and decides to write serious works under his own name. From the moment of this decision, he is incapacitated by writer’s block. He even suspects that he can write successfully only as Stark. Meanwhile, Beaumont’s former agent, the sleazy Frederick Clawson, reveals to People magazine that Stark is Beaumont, a fact that Beaumont acknowledges in an interview that culminates in the mock burial of George Stark and Beaumont’s confirmation that Stark’s career has terminated. A fiction or not, Stark refuses to stay buried in his mock grave. Ghoul-like, he emerges and launches a campaign of terror and grisly murders among Beaumont’s associates and loved ones. The...
(The entire section is 825 words.)
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