First things first, I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read every single one of his books (except for maybe Danse Macabre) and as many of his short stories as I could get my hands on. I love figuring out how threads of his stories link to other stories (most of which link to the Dark Tower series, which I adore). I first read The Shining when I was in 8th grade (and my mom even got it out of the library for me) — it scared me to death, and I loved it. When I read the Stand a few weeks later, I was so scared I couldn’t sleep for days. And then I read it again as soon as I finished it. And over the next few decades, I devoured them all. Even the forgettable ones with weak endings (hello, Lisey’s Story)…and it seemed like lots of recent ones have had endings that have disappointed lots of fans (Under the Dome was a great story and idea, but the ending didn’t quite hold up to the first 700 pages. And don’t even mention the end of The Dark Tower to most fans).
I’m very happy to report that while 11/22/63 isn’t perfect, it is definitely more like Stephen King of old — a huge story with richly drawn characters, and a chilling and fitting ending that works ideally (I guess we have the wonderful Joe Hill to thank for that, as Mr. King thanks his equally talented son in the afterword for helping him to correct the ending. If you haven’t read 20th Century Ghosts yet, run out and get it right now. It is awesome.).
Read my entire review here.
I have to make a confession…I’m not a Stephen King fan. I’ve tried reading a couple of his books (The Tommyknockers and IT) and couldn’t get through them. Disappointingly, it’s not because I’m a huge wimp and am just too terrified by his books. It’s because I find them so BOOOOORING. Go ahead, feel free to mentally flog me if you disagree.
So now you’re probably waiting for me to say how I’ve read The Dark Tower and I’m a changed women…sorry to disappoint again. But at least I got through the entire book!
In case you’re still reading this review, The Dark Tower books are a 7 book series (with an eighth related short story as well). The series revolves around Roland, a gunslinger. The books are a kind of sci-fi western where the time and place are a bit vague. Things seem primitive at times, but then things seem other-worldly and even magical at times. Roland is pursuing a man in black and is also on a quest for the dark tower. You’d think I’d have another reference for “man in black” besides THE Mr. Cash after reading this book, but alas, I have no idea who he is in Mr. King’s eye. And the dark tower? Not a clue.
I don’t know if it’s just that King gives more information than I’m retaining and I’m just too bored to absorb it. Or if he just likes to leave mystery and unanswered questions in his books so that you slowly…slooooowly learn bit by bit what the hell is going on after reading all of the books. But I really can’t tell you what The Gunslinger is about. I know there’s Roland, there’s a kid from another time and place, and there’s an underground cave with scary creatures, and there’s a lot of wandering.
So…I think I’m done with this review. It’s just going downhill. I warned you. Not a fan. Why’d I’d read the book then? A friend gave it to me so I thought I’d give it a shot. Oh well.
Hmmm…maybe I can offer you a consolation prize. I read Stephen King’s Bag of Bones last year and it wasn’t half bad. Just a good old fashioned ghost story. No giant spiders or aliens or anything silly like that. Read that one instead.
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Here is an excerpt from my reviews of my #51 book, The Shining, by Stephen King, on my blog, xoxoxo e:
Jack has a tendency towards violence, whether drunk or sober. He thinks he knows better than everyone (“Father knows best”) and is constantly excusing himself, his judgments, his jealousies. The reader learns that his father was abusive, to the point of almost killing his mother, which helps fill in some of Jack’s blanks, but King never excuses any of his behavior. If the Overlook was holding a casting call, it couldn’t have picked anyone more suited for the job of caretaker-gone-mad than Jack. King writes about Jack’s ability to connect with both the hero and villain in his play. The reader can connect with all of the characters in The Shining. Jack, when he is in his craziest most dangerous moments, is to some degree sympathetic. He also has a wicked sense of humor, “The boiler’s okay and I haven’t even gotten around to murdering my wife yet. I’m saving that until after the holidays, when things get dull.”
It is well-known that King himself was an alcoholic (and was at the time of writingThe Shining). One can’t help but feel that his love/hate for the character of Jack Torrance is his own beating up of himself and his demons. Parenting is hard and there are times, no matter how much you love your child, that they drive you nuts and make you angry. This is taken to extremes in Jack’s story, but one of his defining moments is when he broke Danny’s arm. This violent act haunts Jack as much as any of the other creepy things that inhabit the Overlook. King keeps Jack’s feelings ambiguous. Was evil always inherent in Jack, and the Overlook able to hone it, bring it out? Or is alcohol mostly responsible for his violent tendencies? Is the Overlook King’s metaphor for alcoholism? Are the ghosts Jack’s alcoholic demons made real? The Shining can incorporate all of these elements and still just be a darn good ghost story.
I am way behind in my reviews, so I thought I’d do a quick one for this “Kindle Single” short story by Stephen King.
I’m a huge King fan, and I downloaded this story two weeks ago, just as I was on my way to see him speak over at George Mason University, where he received an award. As I assumed, he has a terrific public presence — he is a gifted and easy speaker, very much full of humor and humanity. He spoke for about an hour, and even did a quick reading from his in-the-works novel “Dr. Sleep”, a sort-of sequel to The Shining, with Danny Torrence as the main character. The bit that he read was about soul-sucking vampires who drive around the country in big RVs, going from town to town on the highways. You can see part of that reading here.
While I was waiting for King to come out on stage, I started reading Mile 81 (and almost finished it, as it was only about a 30 minute read). Mile 81 is the story of a mysterious car that stops over in a deserted, closed rest area on a busy Maine highway. And the mysterious car starts doing horrible, other-wordly things (readers of books like From a Buick 8, Hearts in Atlantis, or the Dark Tower books will see a tie between this story and the “low men” described in those books). And in true King fashion, only the children are clever enough to figure out what to do, as the adults around the die grisly deaths.
Totally worth the $2.99 paid to Kindle for reading this — always a good sign when King’s stories make you wish they were longer (instead of the huge, long books that sometimes –ahem, Under the Dome — go on too long).
You can read more of my reviews here on my blog.
Whenever I read a Stephen King book I always remember how much I love them and I seek out another one. Pretty soon I am going to run out of books of his to read, but I guess then I can just reread my favorites.
Rose Madder is a tale about an abused woman who one day has just had enough and decides just to walk out and never go back. Rose starts out afraid of her own shadow, and rightfully so as she has suffered numerous horrors at the hand of her police detective husband Norman.
Read the rest on my blog
OK I’ll admit it, I have an addictive personality. I have been lucky that it has (mostly) affected me in fairly innocent ways, like my Sims addiction or my chocolate addiction. Another addiction I have had for a while is my Stephen King addiction. My latest fix was “Under the Dome”. Yesterday with around 100 pages to go I left the monstrosity on my desk at work, and I almost started crying. I stayed awake late nights reading it, I dreamt about it, I loved it.
I know it is fairly chiché to be into Stephen King and I really don’t care. There is just something about Mr King and his writing that just speaks to me. I may have said that before and I will probably say it again. “Under the Dome” reminded me in some ways of my favorite King book (and possibly all time favorite book) “The Stand”. For those not aware or who cannot guess by the title, “Under the Dome” is about a small town in Maine (of course) that becomes cut off from the outside world when a mysterious and invisible barrier pops up. For a lack of a better term it is called a dome, but it fits precisely around the borders of the town so it is not really a dome as many might think of one.
Here is an excerpt from my review of my #40 book, On Writing, by Stephen King, on my blog, xoxoxo e:
Whether you consider yourself an aspiring writer or not, Stephen King’s On Writing — A Memoir of the Craft is an engaging read. It is part autobiography, part instruction manual, but mostly a writer talking about his love of writing and how intrinsic a part of his life his writing has always been.
As he outlines what he thinks all writers should do — devote hours every day to their craft (his daily quota is 2000 words, but that might be difficult for those of us with day jobs), read, read, and read some more (he doesn’t watch much television and reads a lot), and not worry too much about the critics:
“I spent a good many years since — too many, I think – being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.”