Title: Secret Window, Secret Garden.
Author: Stephen King.
Genre: Novella, fiction, mental health, writing, horror, thriller.
Publication Date: 1990.
Summary: The novella enters the suddenly strange life of writer Mort Rainey, recently divorced, depressed, and alone on the shore of Tashmore Lake. Alone, that is, until a sinister figure named John Shooter arrives, claiming Rainey had plagiarized one of his stories, and hungry for retribution.
My rating: 7.5/10.
♥ "I am not taking that," Mort said, and part of him was marvelling at what a really accommodating beast a man was: when someone held something out to you, your first instinct was to take it. No matter if it was a check for a thousand dollars or a stick of dynamite with a lit and fizzing fuse, your first instinct was to take it.
♥ Well, a story was a thing, a real thing—you could think of it like that, anyway, especially if someone had paid you for it—but in another, more important, way, it wasn't a thing at all. It wasn't like a vase, or a chair, or an automobile. It was ink on paper, but it wasn't the ink and it wasn't the paper. People sometimes asked him where he got his ideas, and although he scoffed at the question, it always made him feel vaguely ashamed, vaguely spurious. They seemed to feel there was a Central Idea Dump somewhere (just as there was supposed to be an elephant graveyard somewhere, and a gabled lost city of gold somewhere else), and he must have a secret map which allowed him to get there and back, but Mort knew better. He could remember where he had been when certain ideas came to him, and he knew that the idea was often the result of seeing or sensing some odd connection between objects or events or people which had never seemed to have the slightest connection before, but that was the best he could do. As to why he should see these connections or want to make stories out of them after he had... to that he hadn't a clue.
♥ For every step he took forward, the entrance to the hall seemed to retreat a step, and it occurred to Mort, not for the first time, that hell was probably like the way you felt after sleeping too long and too hard on a hot afternoon.
♥ "It's so horrible!" she wept. "I was at Ted's and Isabelle called... she said there were at least fifteen fire trucks there... hoses spraying... crowds... rubberneckers... gawkers... you know how I hate it when people come and gawk at the house, even when it's not burning down..."
He had to bite down hard on the insides of his cheeks to stifle a wild bray of laughter. To laugh now would be the worst thing, the cruellest thing he could possibly do, because did know. His success at his chosen trade added to the years of struggle had been a great and fulfilling thing for him; he sometimes felt like a man who has won his way through a perilous jungle where most other adventurers perish and has gained a fabulous prize by so doing. Amy had been glad for him, at least initially, but for her there had been a bitter downside: the loss of her identity not only as a private person but as a separate person.
♥ "It doesn't matter. I'm not stressed. Just heartsick."
Mort almost told her he believed they were the same thing, and decided not to.
♥ But if he told Herb Creekmore, whom he could visualize sitting in the living room of his New York apartment in a pair of natty tweed pants and a strap-style tee shirt, that he intended to handle this himself, with only Greg to lend a hand, he doubted if Herb would understand. Herb was a good friend, but he was something of a stereotype: Civilized Man, late-twentieth-century model, urban and urbane. He was the sort of man who believed in counselling. The sort of man who believed in meditation and mediation. The sort of man who believed in discussion when reason was present, and the immediately delegation of the problem to Persons in Authority when it was absent. To Herb, the concept that sometimes a man has got to do what a man has got to do was one which had its place... but its place was in movies starring Sylvester Stallone.
♥ Mort didn't believe that people—even those who tried to be fairly honest with themselves—knew when some things were over. He believed they often went on believing, or trying to believe, even when the handwriting was not only on the wall but writ in letters large enough to read a hundred yards away without a spyglass. If it was something you really cared about and felt that you needed, it was easy to cheat, easy to confuse your life with TV and convince yourself that what felt so wrong would eventually come right... probably after the next commercial break. He supposed that, without its great capacity for self-deception, the human race would be even crazier than it already was.
♥ Eric Clapton was throttled in the middle of a full-tilt-boogie guitar solo when Mort shut off the motor, and quiet crashed down like a load of stones encased in foam rubber.
♥ Pissing and thinking have a lot in common, he thought, climbing out of the car and unzipping his fly. You can put them both off... but not forever.
♥ Go ahead, dammit—look. The least you can do is look at the consequences. You may not be able to stand up to them, but you can by-God look at them.
♥ And then he thought: I did have a gun. That day. But it was unloaded. I told them that, later. Amy believed me. I don't know about Milner, but Amy did, and—
Was it, Mort? Was it really unloaded?
He thought of the crack in the window-wall again, senseless silver lightning-bolt zig-zagging right up through the middle of things. That's how it happens, he thought. That's how it happens in a person's life.