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Changing my perspective on Stephen King

Discussion in 'Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror Books' started by Kookamoor, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. Kookamoor

    Kookamoor New Member

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    I was going to add this to laboi's thread, but it felt like hijacking, so I figured I'd start my own.

    I always associated Stephen King with horror, of which I'm not a fan AT ALL!! Reading the first quarter of Koontz's 'Intensity' still haunts me, and I can't look at campervans in the same way... brrr! And yet I really enjoyed two of his movie adaptations, Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. From what I've read about the Dark Tower series on TBF, that sounds somewhat different again.

    So, I'm confused. I have previously put a blanket ban on King because I assumed he was in the can't-sleep-at-night-after-reading-his-books / gives-me-the-heebie-jeebies category. Is he so talented as to cross genres and produce both writing that terrifies as well as stories that intrigue and mystify? Should I give him a shot?
     
  2. liktareadmore63

    liktareadmore63 New Member

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    should you give him a shot? sure. i may be mistaken but many of his newer books arnt really horror. and af far as the tower series goes in my own opinion , its really not horror, now i could be wrong again but books like the girl who loved tom gordon, hearts in atlantis, both kinda new arnt horror .
    i really cant think of the last king book that ive read that really grossed me out but everyones different. i always tell people who ask me if they would like king to give him a shot
     
  3. Kookamoor

    Kookamoor New Member

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    Absolutely! I usually recommend the same thing to people who are unsure about a book or author - you never know until you try it, and it's difficult to know a person's taste so well as to categorically state they will/will not like a book/author.

    I should point out that this thread isn't about me being lazy and wanting to know if I should put a blanket ban on him. It's more to share my changing perception of an author I had lumped into a particular category. I am wondering whether he has always been something more than a writer of horror and I have been shortsighted in my assessment of his work.
     
  4. KristoCat

    KristoCat New Member

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    I think Stephen King really does have a good variety of novels out there. Yes, a lot of his stuff is scary or gross, but I can think of several novels that he's written that are just good stories, with his signature phenomenal character writing. Here's a few you could look into that haven't been mentioned yet:

    The Body: This is a novel about four boys who trek across country for two days to go see a dead body they heard about. The movie Stand By Me is an adaptation of it.

    The Dead Zone: A story about a man who suffers a near-fatal head trauma and recovers, discovering that he has a strange kind of sixth sense. Disregard the crappy TV series; it has little to do with the book, which was much, much better.

    The Eyes of the Dragon: A fantasy novel about King Roland and his sons Peter and Thomas, and the evil magician Flagg's plot to bring chaos and strife to the kingdom. Very, very few elements of horror in this one.

    Rose Madder: This is a novel about a woman who escapes from an abusive marriage to a cop, and about the life she finds for herself in another city. When her husband tracks her down, she finds help in the supernatural quality of the painting she bought in a pawn shop. A strange story but I found it emotionally satisfying.

    He's written a bunch of short stories that aren't really horror, either, like Word Processor of the Gods, The Breathing Method, The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet, L.T.'s Theory of Pets, The Jaunt (this one is a bit science fiction-y), Quitter's Inc., Dolan's Cadillac, and Apt Pupil. I think his short stories are the most "literary" of all of his works.
     
  5. Kookamoor

    Kookamoor New Member

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    Thanks Kristo! Great summary, and confirms what I have begun to realise about him being a very diverse author. I'll check out some of your suggestions!
     
  6. sirmyk

    sirmyk New Member

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    I would like to add Insomnia, Hearts in Atlantis, Bag of Bones, The Green Mile, and The Dark Half, as some king novels that I wouldn't quite label as horror, more literary. Some short stories: "Strawberry Spring", "The Last Rung of the Ladder" and those mentioned above. Novellas: the stories in Four Past Midnight, and Different Seasons. By Bachman: The Long Walk, and Rage.
     
  7. jay

    jay New Member

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    Let’s not hand the guy the Nobel just yet.
    Bad writing, insipid storytelling and bland plots don’t mean much no matter what the setting.
    Someone sticks to a field long enough they’ll probably dip into other areas (e.g. Madonna).
    One can only go to the well so many times (hell, even Ann ‘shite’ Rice is playing with Jezuz now! – and even Dan Brown’s ‘puzzle-mysteries’ will become trite. Well, maybe not – I have no faith), especially when just rehashing already tired plots.

    Genre has always been a curse; Elmore Leonard is *hardly* just (if even) a “crime” writer; Westlake the same. Poe didn’t just pump out “horror” tales, he even arguable created the mystery tale, etc etc etc.

    If general readers could actually find their way around a bookstore this may be less of a problem, but instead you’ll even find a nonfiction book by King in the “horror” section because the general fan can’t 1) spell _Danse Macabre_ 2) find a non-fiction section.

    Stupefying, aint it?
    j
     
  8. sirmyk

    sirmyk New Member

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    Nobel? No. Award for selling a bazillion books and contributing to the literary world? Yes, but maybe just a bronze medal.

    Although King is somewhat slapstick/tongue-in-cheek at
    (most)
    times, he has found a niche for character development. He can sometimes get the reader to stand in his characters' shoes. But he also has found a niche for creating pointless characters in the final few (of 100s plus) chapters simply to kill them off by horrible means. I recently read The Tommyknockers and was finding new characters in the final few pages and outbursting WTFs? Yet books like It and The Stand (1000 pages plus for each of those) keep you wanting more by the time you turn that last page.

    Stupefyingly true. I had that same problem when searching for On Writing by King a handful of years ago. Stupid me... I was looking in the non-fiction section...
     
  9. Cretin

    Cretin New Member

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    It's not fiction, but King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is a great read. It has several entertaining anecdotes about his childhood and some stuff when he was older, like when he met his wife. Then the end of the book gives more helpful stuff on the actual act of writing.

    Somehow, the book is a joy to read throughout, but I guess that's just Stephen King for you. Even if you don't care about the actual writing aspect, it's still good.
     
  10. sirmyk

    sirmyk New Member

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    And humorus.
     
  11. jay

    jay New Member

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    The best advice he could ever give on the craft of writing is: “don’t read my stuff”.

    I still shudder at the thought of a generation (if not more) of “writers” learning (or “learning”) how to type from King…

    I’d say more disturbing.
    And not in the way “horror” writer would like to be…
    j
     
  12. KristoCat

    KristoCat New Member

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    How so, Jay?

    Are you saying that it traps writers into a grouping that they don't necessarily belong to? Or, that most genre writers bring others down (genre writing being bad)?

    If that's the case, I agree that sometimes that happens. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that all genre writing is bad, especially if a person primarily reads for pure entertainment or escape. In fact, I really like genre writing (all kinds) and that doesn't mean I couldn't read more serious "literary" works, it just means that I don't do it all the time.
     
  13. jay

    jay New Member

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    The former.
    Although the later has some truth to it.

    For the former, as we’ve touched upon in this thread, some of King’s clearly NOT “horror” still gets shelved in the “horror” section.
    Elmore Leonard has written some westerns, but if a store is good enough to actually stock them, well, EL is known as a “crime” writer, so they go in “crime”.
    Miles Davis has made some records that are very not-“jazz”, but they get put in the jazz section.
    It’s a sad fate and works as a small catch-22 due to the overall buying public being lazy; can’t be arsed to actually look around a store.
    So while the King and Leonard fans find the stuff, new readers, readers than some of these ‘different’ books/themes may be trying to attract, may very well not.

    For the later, well, “horror” has been dead for some time. Same with mystery and “crime” and all this stuff. What is newer, and sickly has a big following, saturates the market and renders some of the older stuff nearly obsolete.
    I glanced at a “hard boiled” thread earlier today and saw a few nauseating contemporary names being praised with nearly no mention of some of the building blocks these guys, at times, outright rip-off.
    Those that adore the mediocrity that King puts forth very rarely look back into the past to even buy books King himself praises.
    I just don’t get it.

    So no, I wouldn’t say ‘genre is bad’ but I do think most of it is pretty lazy, very boring and extremely-poorly written.
    I’m not of the “at least they’re reading” camp. If you’re only gonna read crap, you might as well do the trees a favour and watch television.
    j
     
  14. KristoCat

    KristoCat New Member

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    Thanks for clarifying, Jay. I don't really agree with you but I understand what you're saying.

    I like authors like King and Grisham because when I'm reading their stories, I care about the characters and what happens to them. To me, that's the mark of a good, entertaining tale. I realize that many people aren't satisfied with that, or don't get involved in writing the same way, but that's how it is with me.
     
  15. jay

    jay New Member

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    No problem. My apologies for not making myself clear(er) in the beginning.

    I agree very much. I think there *has* to be some form of relationship between the reader and the characters/story.
    To me sloppy writing will always get in the way of that; one could be coasting along in a story but botched metaphors and inane plot devices act as speed-bumps while coursing at full speed.
    To me neither King nor Grisham could build anything, let alone an interesting character and a valid plot, even if given lessons by a supposed “intelligent designer”.

    There is a plethora of great books out there with *wonderful* characters just waiting for relationships with new readers. It’s just a sad reality that many of them will go unanswered.
    The likes of a Josef K are *far* more interesting than any elf could ever be.
    And Heathcliff is more of a monster than King, Straub and Rice could _ever_, combined, come up with.

    But, this is this…
    j
    Who apologies for overtaking a King thread but I honestly hoped that the thread’s title suggested a ‘confession’ of a reader coming to terms with the fact that King is, well…pathetic.
     
  16. sirmyk

    sirmyk New Member

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    I couldn't agree more. Genre fiction, although popular, is rolling down a very long hill, and adding to it money and other crap as it quickly becomes a giant ball of revenue-generating-worthlessness. Genre "novels" (as they are being called) are shrinking both in size and in value. Some authors are releasing books every few months (in hardback) to make quick sells based upon name. Take JAMES PATTERSON (his name sometimes larger in font than the titles of the books) for example. I see a new book of his on the shelf every time I visit the bookstore, which is quite often. His Big Bad Wolf couldn't have been more than 40-50,000 words, but carried the hefty (copycat) price tag of novels twice to three times its size. The bestsellers list has become a home for genre writers (with exception of a minority gem now and again) and for works released for the sole purpose of generating revenue. Most of these genre works are much like television shows... quick entertainment. Although I do occasionally pick up one of these literacy-killers (for simple entertainment purposes only), I would rather see the bestsellers list offer homes to something more.
     
  17. Cretin

    Cretin New Member

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    I don't agree with that at all, although King is by no means a perfect writer. I also think you have a hot air balloon head. Someone should prick that.

    Have you read his memoir? You quote and try to make a mockery of me, but instead of examples or citations you use blank, smartass commentary. Actually, his memoir is amusing and helpful. For one thing, my favorite, it disdains flowery language: if there's something brown and stinky in the toilet, just call it shit. I think that's a great lesson. Also, The Gunslinger book is terse as a desert.

    I'm not saying King is the greatest writer ever - he definitely has his flaws - but he is undeserving of your moronic diatribe. King is among the best selling authors ever and winner of the Nobel Prize. I'd take his advice over a wannabe elitest forum urchin any day.

    And horror is not dead. Ever read Edward Lee or Carlton Mellick III? Oh, I didn't think so. :p
     
    gidgmon and Shelobstrosity like this.
  18. Kookamoor

    Kookamoor New Member

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    No worries, man! I'm interested in all perspectives at the moment.
     
  19. Stewart

    Stewart Active Member

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    Now, that depends. An adult may call it shit while a child may call it something more fun such as poo while a teenager may use turd. Always be aware of your character's perception to it, when necessary.
     
  20. Shade

    Shade New Member

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    Wow! The Academy must have slipped that one out real quiet.

    Or were you too busy wanting to rape women to think what you were saying, cretin?
     

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