Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 169: Stephen King

Not going to do this often but this is a little homage to one of my favorite horror authors. Judging by the amount of books he sells, he is the world's favorite horror author as well.

Stephen King was always my mother's favorite and she used to tell me edited versions of his stories when I was just a wee tike. I remember her telling of the Dark Tower story and it capturing my imagination so much, I wrote my own watered down version of it for a school assignment. The good thing about a prolific writer like King is that he cranks out novels as fast as his short stories. I was reading his stuff as early as middle school...I think. Collections like Night Shift and Skeleton Crew were good gateway drugs.

A friend of mine was really into The Shining and that was the first King novel I read. Later, I got hooked into his so-called Castle Rock trilogy of The Dark Half, a short story called The Sun Dog and Needful Things. As someone who wanted to be a writer, I noticed he wrote about writers a lot. I guess write what you know. That became a bit of a self-parody when all his books after he was hit by a car were about hit and runs.

King also had his alter-ego, Richard Bachman. Under that name he wrote novellas like The Long Walk (a personal favorite), Thinner and The Running Man. Now that I think about it, Bachman's stuff sounds like diet books. He even did a weird crossover with himself where Bachman wrote a book that tied into a Stephen King story.

I think his major talent is creating believable characters in just a few broad strokes. His characters find themselves trapped in grotesque and horrible situations but you intrinsically know if they are good-natured, evil or just like the rest of us, a little of both. These thumbnail sketches make his fantastical situations work.

Like one of his idols, HP Lovecraft, King likes to get a little abstract with his endings. Especially if cosmic forces are acting up, the descriptions can get a touch...heady. This makes filming a lot of King's endings problematic and explains why his writing style doesn't always translate well to the big screen.

If you need a good solid spook story, go to King.

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