Monday, January 24, 2011

Stephen King

I've never really read Stephen King until recently. I knew he existed and that many, many, many people loved him, but he'd just kind of stayed out of my radar. I read mostly fantasy and sci-fi growing up and once some of my interests strayed, it was to noir, crime and thrillers, with a few gory horrors thrown in.

But when we moved to Maine last year, I thought it would be kind of funny to check out some of his books, since he's so linked to the state. I was surprisingly impressed. A few things seemed too goofy or obvious, and I admittedly have pretty low standards for a novel anyway. If it's entertaining and has the F-Word at least a dozen times, that's good enough for me. So I read a few of 'em. I read Cell and Under The Dome and half of the Stand. (Until my nook squarked out on me halfway through and I didn't feel like hitting the page turn button 6,000 times to get back to my place. Maybe I should start again now that it can select pages...)

I liked the way his characters were pretty down home. Average Joes with problems and histories. Then I got a bunch of Richard Stark novels and King was laid to the side.

But I recently listened to a crusty old version of a book on tape of his seminal novel, IT. And it was a different experience listening to a Stephen King novel. I'm a speedy reader, usually averaging around 200 books a year (Though this year has been lagging quite a lot) and I found myself breezing through long passages about the characters back history without really batting an eye. But when you're a captive audience, cruising the back roads of Maine in your Honda Element, listening to the gravelly voice in your speakers, you have a chance to realize how great King is at creating a world with these characters. It was often that I'd sit and listen to 45 minutes of back story on a person that was promptly killed off. When I was reading that, it kind of annoyed me. Like when someone goes into too much detail about clothes. They were a pair of black, strappy heels, that's great. I don't need to know that they're 4.3 inch heels with 1/4 inch straps, manufactured in Taiwan by the hands of 12-year old orphans, stamped with the logo of a flying gargoyle and a gold embossed signature blahblahblah....

But I loved it in audio form. I don't know why, and there's a chance that I was just missing out when I was reading the novels - I'll have to read one and see - but I liked knowing the odd yet common backgrounds on the weird little Mainers that inhabit King's stories.
So I guess what I'm saying is that there's always a benefit to experiencing things in a new way, whether it's an audio book or an e-book, or watching a movie in it's original language with subtitles. Get out there and try something new!


  1. Will do! Now I just have to pick what new thing to try.

  2. I've read a few of Stephen King's books. He's by no means my favorite author but I did enjoy them. I'm always trying to guess how a story will end, and King was usually pretty good at surprising me.

    As for experiencing things in a new way, I'll try. I used to be a lot better at it. The older and more crotchety I get, the more I like the comfort in the same old things.

  3. Cool post and I got to say that Stephen King is definitely one of my favorite writers and one of my biggest inspirations for being a writer in the first place.

    Awesome post, Neal, and write on!

  4. Lindsay - Try anything! Maybe a new pizza place or something.

  5. Randy - I need to read some more of his stuff. After I posted this, I remembered that I'd also read his Hard Case Crime Novel, THE COLORADO KID, which I liked a lot, mostly because he kept me guessing!

    I know it's hard for you out there, where most of the world is still permafreezed in the late seventies and there's nothing but flat land and 3 trees. (According to Steve, anyway. hahah) But you should try something new! Do it!

  6. Vatche - Thanks, man! I'm going to read more. I just got a copy of his newest.

  7. Dig this ROUS! As I'm typing this I am enjoying a sandwich from Erbert and Gerbert's that I've never had before. I love E&G sandwiches but up until now have exclusively ordered the "Flash" sandwich.

    Recently, I signed up for the sandwich society, you get a free sandwich just for signing up, a free sandwich on your b-day, a free sandwich for every 10 ordered at regular price, and (cue the drumroll) a free sandwich when you try all 16 sandwiches from the menu.

    Yes I have the alterior motive of achieving a free sandwich, but I also am expanding my horizons by trying new things. Today I started at the top of the menu with the "Boney Billy" A delicious concoction of turkey breast on wheat with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and mayo. It's not a "Flash" but still tasty.

  8. I was already hungry before I read Randy's I'm starving!!!

  9. GO RANDY! Hahahah I love that your new thing was a sammich. That's awesome. And your justification is completely justified. haha