Stephen King Discussion

Middle of the road on King. Loved the Stand and the Dark Tower series, Salem's Lot, not so much. Reading IT now and absolutely loving it. A bit late to the party but any thoughts on King and/or IT?

Steven King can take you sometimes to places you really do not want to be. But once he has you there you can't take the easy course and walk away.

The man knows human nature and he knows Maine intimately. A good read for anyone who cares about more than what's on cable tonight.

The Shining (book) - good
The Shining (movie) - piece of crap

The Stand and It were his two best IMO. The Dark Tower seties sort of stands off to the side on its own, and was great.

I liked the JFK book as welll

I agree that "The Stand" and "It" have been the best. "Firestarter" is up there too. Even with those three, though, I often found myself annoyed by his style -- I felt like taking the occasional paragraph and asking him to rework it, to spend less time trying to shove the pop references and more time trying to come up with a better metaphor.

But there's no denying the guy's gift for sucking you into a story and not letting you go. I can't think of anyone who does that better, so who am I to quarrel with his style?

Different from a lot of his stuff but I recommend "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon".

11/22/63 is a fantastic book. Not just one of HIS best but just a great, great novel. I like a lot of his other stuff too. I never read It. I have to add it to my list.

I thought Pet Sematary was one of his best along with It and The Stand.

Loved "Different Seasons" written under his "other name". 4 good stories.

Pet Semetary was my first and favorite. It and The Stand are also great.
11/22/63 is a good read, but not like the classic "horror" stories.

I just started reading Mr Mercedes, but am still undecided about where it ranks.

He scares me to death...def. think were it not for writing he'd be a serial killer or something...that being said I read him like crazy in my not so much.

I read a few of his books years ago. I'm not sure where he lost me, but it was when I decided I could no longer deal with his prosaic writing style. Always too long (well, except for his short stories).

Met him once on the Vassar Campus. His son was in the freshman class with my daughter.
He asked me directions to one of the building but best I could do was point them towards the Admissions building for directions.

My wife refused to believe me that it was him till our Flower Child came home for a long weekend with some friends and mentioned that King's son was in her class.

I was a 17 year old intern at the local TV news station when Stephen King came in to be interviewed. He handed me his leather jacket. Then I worked the teleprompter. This was 1977.

My husband and I are huge fans. We have mostly first printings of all his books. His were the first "grown up" books we read in middle school. He's a great American storyteller.

The Stand is a classic. All of his middling books (Tommyknockers, It) were written when he was completely stoned/drunk out of his gourd, and yet they are still mildly compelling and best sellers. We are not fans of the Dark Tower. Just not our thing. Love his fairy tale, something Dragon something.

I hate when his mastery of dialogue and small town stories devolve into "it was a weird alien and/or demon that made everyone go nuts." I love 11/22/63 because the supernatural element was minimized and it was just great storytelling.

Try out his short story collections. I'm going to paraphrase my favorite saying of his -- "A novel is like a long, satisfying affair. A short story is like a stolen kiss in the dark from a stranger." I've always been a novel person but that quote has led me to so many delicious short stories.

And Carrie really foreshadows social media. It's written as a collection of diary entries and news clippings.

TrolleyDodger said:

Middle of the road on King. Loved the Stand and the Dark Tower series, Salem's Lot, not so much. Reading IT now and absolutely loving it. A bit late to the party but any thoughts on King and/or IT?
When you've finished IT; let us know whether it pushed a button.


Tom, I'm about 43% through, thanks Kindle, and already a bit nervous Pennywise is somewhere in the house or just outside oh oh

I am mixed on King. Many of his works are deservedly classics in the genre. But some are flabby and feel like he is trying to pump out at least one book a year.

On the flabby side are the two recent books, Dr. Sleep and Revival. Reading Dr Sleep, my thought was that King was sharper and more on point when he was still a drunk, and that perhaps recovery has sapped some of his best energy. My wife hits me when I say this, and my friends in recovery roll their eyes at me.

One note--he seems to love using the word "tendentious". I have seen it in at least five of his novels.

I've really got to disagree on "It." It was overly long and frankly just plain silly. Actual quote: "Why does It have to be so mean?" In a horror novel.

In general I'm a fan; I've been reading his stuff since "Carrie" back in the '70s. But I find that the longer he goes, the worse it gets. 11/22/63 was a terrific piece of work, I read it twice. "Under The Dome" had some fine moments and a great premise but the ending was, again, silly. Among the novels I remember specifically:

11/22/63: Very Yes
'Salem's Lot: Yes
Carrie: Yes
Cell: Mostly
Christine: Yes
Cujo: Yes
Dead Zone, The: Yes please. Great movie also.
Desperation: Yes
Firestarter: Yes
Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The: Yes. Well done.
Insomnia: Yes
IT: God no
Misery: Yes
Pet Sematary: Oooh yes
Shining, The: Absolutely
Stand, The: The first of many that went on far too long
Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition, The: As if the original wasn't long enough
Under the Dome: Yes except for the end

[edited for readability]

I liked Dr. Sleep alot, though it was clearly written by an older man feeling his mortality and his weakness for substance abuse.

TD--the substance abuse and also the recovery sections were really well done, passionate, and exceptionally true. But the rest of the story was a dog, and the ending was far too pat. I just did not sense the same passion--or terror--in the horror story line as I did in the recovery story line. When I was done, I told my wife I wish he had just written a recovery novel and left it at that.

I agree with Tom's list - didn't read a few of them.

I couldn't get into Dr. Sleep - will try again at some point.

For his recent work - I read A Good Marriage which was pretty good. 11/22/63 was good though his take on what would have happened if Kennedy wasn't shot seemed a bit extreme.

MF, not disagreeing, I just found it a fun light read. The True Knot could have been filled in with more depth and the time they killed the one victim was plenty graphic and terrifying.

For anyone looking for insight into king's process -- or just interested in a great book on the subject -- get his 'on writing' he talks a lot about what went into the creation of 'carrie' all very relatable and truly inspiring.

This is fun:

And I have to say, Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher were SO awful.

I really enjoyed Night Shift, his first collection of short stories.

I still get goosebumps when I think about the story with the rats in "Night Shift".

Is "The Dead Zone" the book on which the TV series was based, about a man who had an accident that awakened a "dead zone" in his brain? If so, I should read it. Used to really like the show.

IIRC, the current SciFy show "Haven" was based on his book "The Colorado Kid." I love the show (or did until last season, when it got stupid) and would like to read the book.

I don't do very well with his work, in general. I guess I'm too susceptible. I once read a collection of E.A. Poe stories in a single evening when I was about 15, and didn't get any sleep at all. My father had to go into my bedroom and lower all the shades before I would even try. Similarly, I once tried to read a collection of King's short stories during lunch hours at work, and found I couldn't concentrate at all in the afternoons as a direct result! Any loud noise would send me shooting up out of my desk chair...

But one of my all-time favorite quotes from an interview was provided by him. When a journalist asked him why he chose to write on such macabre and frightening topics, he replied, "What makes you think I have a choice?"

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