Study Guide

'Salem's Lot Preface

By Stephen King


  • There's a man and a boy who aren't named, because King thinks that sounds ominous and archetypal, but we find out later it's Ben Mears and Mark Petrie.
  • They're traveling westward across the country. Ben gets newspapers as he goes because no one's invented the Internet yet. He's looking for news about a small Maine town (Jerusalem's Lot, if you haven't guessed).
  • Ben's a novelist and is working on a book, though his agent isn't that interested. Mark is somewhat traumatized. Not by Ben failing to get a publisher; he's also traumatized by other stuff.
  • Ben gets an offer for publication from Random House. He takes it, and then he and Mark cross the Mexican border.
  • Ben still gets a Maine paper when he can, driving a long way to get it. He finds a story about a ghost town in Maine, which freaks him and Mark out.
  • The whole newspaper story is reprinted in the text; it talks about Jerusalem's Lot, or 'Salem's Lot, which has turned into a ghost town.
  • The story says some folks from the Lot have not disappeared, like Parkins Gillespie, Pauline Dickens, and Charles James. If you keep a sharp eye out in the rest of the book you'll see those folks pop up again.
  • The newspaper article says the survivors of Jerusalem's Lot are unwilling to talk about the town.
  • It notes that Lawrence Crockett was involved in questionable business dealings, and that the Royce McDougalls had lost an infant son and so might have moved out (again, more on them later).
  • Other folks who are missing, like Henry Petrie (Mark's father), are harder to account for.
  • The article says 'Salem's Lot is all boarded up and spooky when you visit it.
  • Two months after reading the newspaper article, Mark makes a confession to the local priest.
  • The priest, Father Gracon, comes to Ben and tells him the confession is creepy. There is foreshadowing. Put on some ominous music if you've got it.
  • Ben and Mark say they love each other and decide to go back to Jerusalem's Lot.