Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar
Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, is a novella. Not your typical “horror” book, although the premise could be scary. It is more mystery/suspense/fantasy/fiction.
Richard Chizmar is the publisher and editor of Cemetery Dance magazine and owner of Cemetery Dance Productions. He is also an author, and as King has published a lot with Cemetery Dance, when he ran into a problem with the writing of Gwendy’s Button Box, he asked Chizmar to help him write it. This is supposedly how they ended up co-authoring this book.
The story itself is centered in King’s well-known town of Castle Rock, and fans will recognize a few landmarks and people. It tells the story of a young girl (Gwendy Peterson) who is determined to lose the nickname “Goodyear” before heading to middle school in the fall. To do this, she has been using the “Suicide Stairs” which zig-zag up the cliffside. All 305 of them. Every day. On the day that she can look down and finally see the tips of her sneakers, she meets a man at the top of the cliff. Although hesitant about talking to strangers, 12-year old Gwendy accepts a beautiful wooden box from the man who introduces himself as Richard Farris. He assures her that it is hers to keep. He tells her about the two levers which dispense gifts that she will enjoy. There are also buttons on top, a red one which will give her whatever she wants, and other buttons as well, which should be left alone. The box comes with great responsibility and must remain hidden from all, as it should not fall into the wrong hands. Repercussions could resonate throughout the world. Farris makes sure Gwendy understands this.
As years go by, Gwendy finds that the box truly is a gift, giving her and her family benefits beyond their normal expectations. But Gwendy finds it is also a burden, and those extra buttons sometimes tempt her.
In one way I really enjoyed this book, but I think I expected more. When the man first appeared and said he wanted to “palaver”, I thought OMG, the man in black (from the Dark Tower series). Of course his black clothes helped. Then when he introduced himself as Richard Farris, my mind went to another of King’s creations RF (Randall Flagg), so I questioned his intentions to the very end. I think the book could have been longer, as the short chapters took us through Gwendy’s life with the box fairly quickly. We could have had things fleshed out a little more. On the other hand, it went at a nice clip, and maybe I was just hoping for more Stephen King.
But the whole idea of this box, did raise the question….would you be tempted in today’s world to maybe push a button or two?
Read: June 2017
Favorite Quotes from Gwendy’s Button Box:
“There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.”
“Light green: Asia. Dark green: Africa. Orange: Europe. Yellow: Australia. Blue: North America. Violet: South America. Are you with me? Can you remember?”
“Gwendy has a thought (novel now in its adult implications, later to become a tiresome truth): secrets are a problem, maybe the biggest problem of all. They weigh on the mind and take up space in the world.”
About the Authors:
Stephen King needs no introduction, no blurb, no “about”
Richard Chizmar has won two World Fantasy awards, four International Horror Guild awards, and the HWA’s Board of Trustee’s award. He is the author of many short stories.