Stephen King

February 3, 2006 at 7:04 pm (Prose)

The Official Stephen King Web Site

I never really understood the whole Stephen King obsession, but I have at least come to appreciate his abilities as an author. I have always tried to avoid being an “early adopter” for most things, and, while I’ve missed out on a lot of good things with this system, I’ve also avoided the me toos and usually wait for a thing to go mainstream before diving in. You know, let others work out the kinks and I’ll wait and pick the winner.

Back in my pre-teen years, my mom took me food-shopping with her each Thursday. Every trip to the Acme supermarket, she would drop me off in front of the toy section with the instructions that I could have one toy and one toy only. This was a ritual and this meant that I knew the range of toys that fit into the “yes” pile. At the end of her trip through the store, my mom would meet me in the toy isle (and she was always pushing a cart that seemed too small to hold everything in it—5 kids to feed) and head for the checkout. My mom still talks about the fact that I would be standing there either staring at the toys unable to decide at all, or have two or three items in my hand that I was considering. I always out “thunk” myself because I hated that feeling of getting home and not liking what I had purchased. That is with me today and the reason I’m no likely to jump on fads.

Stephen King was a fad.

At least, that was my thinking. Anyone that popular had to be a fad. While other kids were buying the latest Duran Duran album, I was looking for Bandolier, from Budgie.

Bandolier

So, I managed to avoid his novels through the 1980s and 90s. With one notable exception (Shawshank Redemption), I thought all the movies and t.v. shows made from his material were either poorly done or just plain awful. Now, I understand that he wasn’t the one making the movie, but I hope he enjoyed the money he made from them because they left awful tastes in my mouth and stole hours from me that I cannot get back.

Then, in late 2004, I was perusing the local Barnes and Noble when I came across a huge pile of giant hardcover books with the title The Dark Tower VII, The Dark Tower. At first I thought the book was entitled King (his name at the top is so goddamned big), but when I stopped to stare at this cowboy holding a rose, I became intruiged.

Dark Tower 7

I had heard of the Dark Tower series and I remember being told, “if you start the series, make sure you slog through the first book as quickly as possible and get to the second because that is where the series hits its stride.” Odd way to introduce a person to a rather large body of work.

Regardless, I was replaying that advice in my head I stood their with the hugeness that is Volume 7. Right there on the spot I decided to hunt down the remainder of the 6 books (which I did—only 1 copy of The Gunslinger Revised and Expanded remained!), and promised myself to slog through more than just the first book that looked oddly out of place in size.

Once I started reading, I didn’t need to remember anything except to turn the pages as I finished them. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but i was pleasantly suprised. And I finally understood what all the fuss was about. Steve can write! The most amazing part about his writing is that I swear he has tapped into my mind and is writing just to me. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but that is the truth.

That feeling was even more intense in On Writing (1999) where it was as if Steve was right here in my house talking with me. I don’t know why so many of the literati are so against him when the man can write as he does. I just started the Stand (as you can see from an earlier post) and, while the subject matter doesn’t interest me much, the characters are jumping to life as I have come to expect. I swear I know Larry Underwood.

Not that anybody cares and I’m sure Stephen is used to shit like this, but I feel that if he would ever happen to read this, he would be slightly amused and not the least bit untouched.

Thankee Sai!

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