Aug 9, 2019
Welcome back to King of the Dark, our special summer series on the B&N Podcast devoted to the shadowy fictional universe of Stephen King. Last week, we did our best to scale the mountain of King's epic The Stand. This week, we're at the other end of the spectrum, reading a story set on as compact a stage as possible. Two episodes back, we talked about King's trapped-in-a-cabin thriller Misery — this week, we're taking on a novel with echoes of that 1986 classic, and some big differences. We're talking about 1992's Gerald's Game, and though it contains no Pennywise, Wendigo or other cosmic monster, we found in it horror aplenty. The plot is bracingly simple: Jessie and her husband Gerald have gone to their lakeside cottage for some secluded time away — but when play in bed with handcuffs turns into something more aggressive, Jessie kicks Gerald in self-defense, he suffers a heart attack and dies. Jessie is left in a nightmarish situation, unable to escape the handcuffs or communicate with the outside world — unless she takes truly desperate measures. Isolation and extremity also force Jessie to confront with abuse in her own history that is as wrenching to confront as anything the author has ever dreamed up, the toxic heart of this powerful and unsettling story. A note of caution for listeners: this conversation includes some mentions of scenes containing disturbingly graphic imagery and issues of sexual abuse raised in the story.