In the wake of A&E's two-part miniseries, it's interesting to look back at King's seminal novel, and uncover what it meant for King's canon, both within the fiction and without. In 1998, Stephen King changed publishers for the first time since the late 1970s. Believing he was being taken for granted at Viking and New American Library, he moved to the prestigious Simon & Schuster. Bag of Bones,shop chanel bags his first novel for the company, was billed as "A Haunted Love Story" and included blurbs from respected mainstream novelists Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club) and Gloria Naylor (The Women of Brewster Place). Through marketing and perception, it seemed, Stephen King was trying for a fresh start, and perhaps a new audience.
Tonally recalling The Dead Zone and anticipating the subtle unease of both Duma Key and 11/22/63, Bag of Bones is an almost quiet, measured examination of how the dead affect the living. We become aware early on that Bag of Bones is a ghost story, but far removed from the horrors of a novel like The Shining. Instead modeled after gothic romances with supernatural overtones like Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca (which Mike mentions early and often throughout the book, making him one of King's self-aware characters who knows the type of story he's in), Bag of Bones aims to chanel boutique answer the complex questions of why people die, how the living go on, and what happens if there is unfinished business.
Mike Noonan's first-person narrative – again suggesting King's later direction with the Duma Key and 11/22/63 – immediately makes Bag of Bones more intimate, and Mike himself instantly more open and confessional than most prior King protagonists. Very early on, he confides that he has trouble asking for help, reinforced by his complicated relationship with his brother-in-law Frank. It's an oddly personal and idiosyncratic character trait for a Stephen King character, far removed from Jack Torrance's addictive behavior, Johnny Marinville's surface bluster,chanel 3911 or Thad Beaumont's clumsiness. At once, Bag of Bones is a more nuanced experience, plumbing layers of human response and interaction King had merely approached in the past.