The Dark Half
This is not the first time that Stephen King has written a dark allegory of the fiction writer's situation. ''Misery'' (1987) is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his audience, which holds him prisoner and dictates what he writes, on pain of death. Mr. King's new novel, ''The Dark Half,'' is a parable in chiller form of the popular writer's relation to his creative genius, the vampire within him, the part of him that only awakes to raise Cain when he writes, the fratricidal twin who occupies ''the womblike dungeon'' of his imagination.
Thaddeus Beaumont is the writer in question. At age 11 he writes his first story. Around the same time he begins to get excruciating headaches, which culminate in a convulsion. Surgery reveals something startling - first an eye, then other small fragments of an incompletely absorbed twin that's lodged in his brain.
This sort of ''in utero cannibalism,'' according to his doctor, is not unusual, although rarely is anything left undigested, as it is in Thad Beaumont's case.
The operation is a success, and Thad grows up to be a mild-mannered professor of creative writing, a doting husband and the father of twins, a modestly successful writer of novels with titles like ''Purple Haze.'' But under the pen name of George Stark he is the best-selling author of ferocious thrillers like ''Sharkmeat Pie,'' the protagonist of which is named Alexis Machine because he kills like one.
Circumstances force Thad to own up to his pseudonym, which in any case has become irksome. He has decided to go it on his own, to lay his fictional self to rest. He and his wife even hold a mock burial service for George Stark, papier-mache tombstone and all. But...