First Lines: Gwendy’s Button Box

Stephen King had a story he didn’t know how to finish. Richard Chizmar — owner of Cemetery Dance Publications, who have published quite a few deluxe editions of King’s books, and a editor and writer as well — offered to take a crack at it:

We were emailing in early January and he mentioned offhandedly a story he’d started some time over the summer, and he just couldn’t finish it […] As I often do, if he mentions a new story, I always say, ‘Well hey, send it to me if you want. I’d love to read it.’ I didn’t expect anything to come of it. But the next evening a file titled Gwendy showed up, and the body of the email read: ‘Do whatever you want with it.’

Et voila, as they say in France: Gwendy’s Button Box.

The story is a relative lightweight in King’s oeuvre: a man in a dark suit (his initials? R.F., natch.) gives twelve year old Gwendy a box with mysterious buttons—can she be trusted to use its powers responsibly? The novella is only a hundred-twenty-something pages long, and not a whole lot happens. This is perhaps why, while promoting the book, such a big deal was made of the novella’s setting. You see, apart from some minor appearances, the town of Castle Rock had been left alone since 1991’s Needful Things. It’s a nice touch, but it doesn’t make the book anything more than mostly harmless.

Book read
Stephen King and Richard Chizmar — Gwendy’s Button Box
First line
There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.