The short biography of Richard Bachman— written in 1984– states, “Bachman was a fairly unpleasant fellow who was born in New York and spent about ten years in the merchant marine after four years in the Coast Guard. He ultimately settled in rural central New Hampshire, where he wrote at night and tended to his medium-sized dairy farm during the day. [He and his wife, Claudia,] had one child, a boy, who died in an unfortunate accident at the age of six (he fell through a well cover and drowned). Three years ago a brain tumor was discovered near the base of Bachman’s brain; tricky surgery removed it.” Bachman died suddenly in February of 1985. He was killed by the Bangor Daily News when that paper published a story that Richard Bachman was actually Stephen King. King confirmed the story immediately.

The Bachman Books now refer to five novels written early in Stephen King’s career: Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Road Work (1981), The Running Man (1982) and Thinner (1985). I read all of these but Thinner late last year. Blaze is now the sixth Richard Bachman novel in the classic sense: namely a novel originally written early in King’s career– before Carrie. The book jacket reads:

A fellow named Richard Bachman wrote Blaze in 1973 on an Olivetti typewriter then turned the machine over to Stephen King, who used it to write Carrie. Bachman died in 1985 (“cancer of the pseudonym”), but in late 2006 King found the original typescript of Blaze among his papers at the University of Maine’s Fogler Library (“How did this get here?!”), and decided that with it little revision it ought to be published.

Blaze is the story of Clayton Blaisdell, Jr.– of the crimes committed against him and the crimes he commits, including his last, the kidnapping of a baby heir worth millions. Blaze has been a slow thinker since childhood, when his father threw him down the stairs – and then threw him down again. After escaping an abusive institution for boys when he was a teenager, Blaze hooks up with George, a seasoned criminal who thinks he has all the answers. But then George is killed, and Blaze, though haunted by his partner is on his own.

With more than a nod to the John Steinbeck classic Of Mice and Men, Blaze promises to be a mix of classic storytelling by a young man who was convinced he was writing for the ages and edited by an older author who has succeeded in doing just that.

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