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Things I never would've thought I'd do

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

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Things I never would've thought I'd do

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write a fan letter to Stephen King, letting him know that a scene that he wrote in his most recent novel really worked amazingly well.

No spoilers.

See, for years- and yearsandyearsandyears- I'd HATED Stephen King. People would recommend his stuff to me and I'd just turn my nose up. I'd read a couple novels of his (Pet Semetary and The Shining, if memory serves), and just thought he was a HACK.
someone shoved Dark Tower: The Gunslinger into my hands and insisted I HAD to read it. No ifs, no ands, no buts. 'You don't have to buy it- here it is, so go ahead. Read it.'
I read it. In an afternoon or so. And I realized that no, Stephen King is actually a pretty gifted author.

I read the first-four Dark Tower books all en masse, when the 4th one came out and the whole schmear got a uniform binding in paperback. I would encounter his short stories and go '...DAMN.'
But never did I really have his stories touch me anywhere below the throat, as it were. Some of them were brilliant ideas (which touched my brain, and then my throat and made me want to talk about them).

The new (and final) Dark Tower book? Just changed that. It had me breathing hard, bawling my eyes out, feeling a little twinge of pain in my chest on the way to work as I read in the car. I don't tend to cry while reading- and this is the only time I have cried while reading when not in my own bedroom, at 3 in the morning.

So I figure it's time to just write him a note and let him know that, yes, the new Dark Tower book pulled this stunt off.

I'll wait to see how the book ends before I write to him, though.
  • happy bday!
  • I think it's fashionable for the well-read to sneer at Stephen King-- you know, like it's fashionable for goths to sneer at Hot Topic --but he can really pull you in with his writing. I respect that more than whatever it is that people see in these mountains of 'must-read' books they recommend. Although I was really only amazed by the first Dark Tower book, and found the rest to be increasingly disposable...
    • Yeah- I'm pretty sure I was sneering equally for reasons of fashion as of personal distaste. I didn't, honestly, get into him.
      You might find book 4 of the Dark Tower books to be more interesting- and 6 and 7 kick ass. 5 and 3 are the weak points, in my view.
      • I've read 1 through 4, at least twice... seven is out? I must've not been paying attention. I'm waiting for 5-7 to come out in paperback.

        My excuse is that King's work was the first 'adult' writing I was allowed to read (my mother being quite the prude, but apparently gruesome murders and the occult are okay), and it's been part of my life for ages. That and I do enjoy his writing, although he has come out with crap occasionally... even his crap is pretty readable, even if the story itself becomes intolerable.
    • I respect people who -- like our dear colubra -- have made an honest effort to read King and found him difficult to enjoy. My issue is always with the folks who, as you say, call him a hack because it's fashionable.

      Stephen King delights me, frustrates me and breaks my heart on a regular basis. Just getting the new Dark Tower book made me cry, because it's ending. It takes some sort of talent to reach people that way.

      Glad to hear you're enjoying the book, colubra. We should get together when I finally let myself read it so I can hear what you think.
      • Yeah- I'd found a couple that interested me, and a lot that were just eehn. I think frankly that he needs to slow the hell down and do 1 book every 2 years.
        We wouldn't get as many books out of him- but I suspect they'd all kick righteous ass.
        • Instead, he's stopping completely, at least for a little while. Which makes me sad.

          I'd agree with you, except that everyone's ass gets kicked differently. My favourite books in the world are It and The Stand, but I know people who hate them both for different reasons. Ditto Misery, Insomnia and all his short story collections. I wouldn't want to wish the death of someone else's favourite.
        • The Stand used to be my favorite, but a couple of years ago I figured out that I just liked the first third of the book, and it can pretty much end at that point as far as I'm concerned. :)
        • Misery is probably my favorite stand-alone King. And the movie is definitely my favorite of his book-to-screen adaptations: christ that is one astonishing movie.
          I don't view it as wishing the death of someone else's favorite, honestly: I view it as wishing that all the children that are born are as perfect as they could be, and as wonderful as they could be.
          Of course, in my view, the Single Very Best Thing Ever to Happen to King's writing is that he started reading Jonathan Carroll. ;)
      • Yes, I certainly do respect the attempt.

        I think the last book that made me cry was A Wind in the Door. I was eleven. I don't cry much anymore. When you're constantly told that you're a substandard human being for crying, you tend to take it to heart.
    • Snobbiness

      Recently Stephen King was awarded a huge literary prize and there was a whole discussion of it because "Oh! He's not highbrow enough!" Some people were really offended, while others were like, "Er, actually he doesn't suck at all, you should try reading him."

      The only book of his I've read is Firestarter and it scared me wicked bad. And I really am not easily scared.
      • Re: Snobbiness

        And I think some big erudite author hobnob commented on this by saying something I'd been saying for years, which is that everyone's pet genius writer will be forgotten a hundred years from now but Stephen King will be remembered, because he's popular among the groundlings and there are a bazillion copies of his books around.
        • Re: Snobbiness

          Which, per best-sellers-of-years-past-vs-what-is-remembered-now, is almost certain to be untrue. If you were to dig around and see what was best-selling in the 40s and 50s, you'd find you've never heard of most of it.
          • Re: Snobbiness

            Well, maybe. I'm just thinking about what we have from the ancient Greeks, and mostly it's just whatever happened to have survived rather than what was good. So the works that they'll have from the 20th century will be Jurassic Park, Eraser and all those Adam Sandler movies nobody admits to buying.
            • Re: Snobbiness

              Classical example that doesn't hold with this, though:
              Sappho was the most popular poet of her day. MADLY popular. The Christian church burned every copy of her licentious tribadism they could get their hands on because it was TEH EVUL.
              And for centuries, Sappho was lost. We had tons of commentary on Sappho saying she was great, but we had no Sappho.

              All or almost all of the Sappho we have comes from one extremely fortunate archaeological find, where a paper-maiche coffin was found, and the archaeologist decided it would be worthwhile to take it apart and see what was written on the papers...
              ...and it was an almost-complete copy of her body of work.
              • Re: Snobbiness

                Weeeelll... my point was that whatever's pervasive and has the biggest print run will have the best chance of surviving, and that doesn't necessarily correlate with what's really good. But that's a really cool story.
                • s'where I was aiming, too, but apparently too vaguely. :)

                  From contemporary literary criticism we can garner the idea that Sappho's work was almost universally read- which implies a great deal of hand-copying went on, as well as, most likely, passing around of individual copies (Malleus, can I borrow your copy of the Odes?).
                  Yet there was no copy available to posterity for all that time, due to judgements on The Evils of Muff-Diving. In this instance a pervasive work, which probably had one of the biggest print runs of its era, almost didn't survive.
                  • Re: s'where I was aiming, too, but apparently too vaguely. :)

                    No, I'm with you... I just felt an uncontrollable urge to argue. I should probably get something to eat. :)
  • I envy you. I had the books (One to four, Spanish version) sitting on my bookcase forever, they were my brother's but he left them when he moved out. I never touched them because I'm not into horror stories and seeing who had written them, I automatically thought they were that genre. My mind imagines worse scenes than the movie writers ever will, so I really get scared.

    Ana talked about the books a lot and she got me curious. I took the first one and found it hard to read at first, but then it got better and couldn't put them down. Half the way through the 4th book I started looking for the rest, that was 5 and 6 at the time, and visited every bookstore I knew. Turns out the first four never really sold so none of them were planning on ordering the rest of the series. Since I got that news, I've been reading a few pages at a time, trying to make it last as long as possible in hopes that they will change their mind and I'm not left with only half a story.

    I could order them in English, which I probably will if I see no translations available by next year. It's just that I like my books, if they are a series, to be all in the same language. : )
    • Well, there's cover art for it, here; my Spanish is terrible, but I was able to figure out how they translated 'Dark Tower' and poke around on the web 'till I found data.
      This looks promising for a spanish-lang translation. :)
      • As does the fact that it's in print <a href="http://www.pergamo.com/detalle.asp?item=36477&secc=>in Spain</a>. Ask at local bookstore if you can get it: the ISBN is 8401335299, publisher's on the link on the prior post I did in this string. :)
        • Thank you! There's hope now.

          With the information you gave me, I just phoned the biggest bookstore in the city and I can get it in a week, imported from Spain, or wait until December to see if the editorial brings it here on December's Book Fair. I believe Spain will be guest country this time. I could get a better price there since the editorials sell their books directly to the reader then, but only for a few days.

          I think I'll wait until December. That will give me time to get the helmet, shoulder pads, steel toed boots (I already have those, they just need to be "tamed") and stunner ready to fight the crowds. Besides, if I've waited so long, a couple months won't matter. If they don't have it, I'll have it imported. Thanks again! *hugs*
          • Well then, I did something right today. It's been one of those days.

            Glad I could help out, and thank you for letting me know I did. :)
  • Suggestions

    I go through a depression when I finish a good King book but I am a SK WHORE. If you want some other good books to read by him I would say the stand outs would be The Talisman written with Peter Straub or Desperation. My personal favorite is the short story The Mist from Skeleton Crew. I may re-read Desperation, it's been a few years. That one made me cry. His insight into the psyche (I was going to say "human" but that bitch has animal brains down too) never fails to amaze me.
  • Could you possibly add a line to your note about how his crappy, ill-informed column in Entertainment Weekly is a waste of space in that magazine, which is pretty hard to do when the magazine in general is at times quite mediocre?


    • eeh, I find his crappy ill-informed column less offensive than the average heap of bullshit in there.
      BTW: if you have the issue with the big spread on Christian Bale in the new Batman movie kicking around, I need to get a copy, as I spilled a whole damn ton of water all over the copy in my house before I got to read it. And that is something I give a damn about.
      • I usually save those "list" issues, or at least the preview issues, but I don't have that particular one anymore. Sorry about that.
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