By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 02, 2003 12:05 PM
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Horror master Stephen King remains hospitalized in his native Maine, but his spokesman told the Associated Press Monday that the author’s condition is improving and he’s been taken off oxygen in his battle with pneumonia.

Warren Silver, an attorney for King, says he expects a “long process in terms of getting him on his feet and back to what he was before this all happened.” Silver added that King is expected to make a full recovery.

King, 56, was hospitalized Nov. 23 and underwent surgery two days later to remove fluid and scar tissue from one of his lungs. “It’s a slow healing process and he’s in some degree of pain from the thoracotomy,” Silver said. “It’s hard for him to get comfortable.”

The famed author (“Carrie,” “The Shining”) was diagnosed with pneumonia before a recent trip to Manhattan, where he collected the National Book Foundation’s 2003 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, presented Nov. 19 for lifetime achievement.

His condition reportedly worsened when he returned home to Bangor, to the extent that physicians at Eastern Maine Medical Center diagnosed him with pleural effusion, an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the membrane surrounding the lung.

Silver has said there appears to be a connection between King’s current malady and a June 1999 accident in which King was nearly killed when a van hit him while he was strolling on a road near his summer home in Lovell.

At the time, King sustained a broken leg and hip, a punctured lung, broken ribs and other injuries.