The Weird and The Yucky

TITLE: DOLORES CLAIBORNE

AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING

PUBLISHER: VIKING; 305 PAGES; $23.50

THE BOTTOM LINE: The world's oldest teenage author cranks out another one.

Stephen King here tries a novel without his customary latex spider webs and prop-department zombies, and nearly makes it work. What drives Dolores Claiborne is a powerful characterization of the title figure, a cranky old Maine islander who takes no guff from life or death. In a rasping, unrepentant tale to police, she admits to murdering her rotten husband 30 years ago. Narrative logic is murky here, but her confession is supposed to show that, on the other...

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