Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I don't understand why so many people think Stephen King's books are all that...

Until very recently, the only book of his that I read
was 'On Writing'. I like reading how writers produce(d)
their craft/art. The mix of autobiography makes it
even more interesting.

However, I've never been a fan of science fiction/horror/
gore/scary shit. Just not my thing in movies or books.

However (again) a few years ago, I came across an expanded
version of 'The Stand' at a discount price and bought it
intending it to be a gift for a friend who was a fan of King.
The friend passed away before I could send the book.

I came across it a couple of weeks ago under a pile of... stuff.
So, I thought why not read it and see what all the hoopla
is about. This edition is 400 pages longer than the original.
Well, what the heck. I don't exactly have a busy schedule
at the moment, ya know.

Basic premise: gov't researchers have an accident with a
super deadly strain of what they call the flu and it is so
contagious that it kills ninety per cent of the population
in the United States in about two weeks. Very ugly.
The rest of the story is about how those remaining are
gathering together to survive and rebuild a civilization.

Because of dreams everyone is having, the good guys
(mostly) end up in Boulder, Colorado and the bad guys
(mostly) end up in Las Vegas. Good vs Evil at war.

Since so few people are left alive they have plenty of
food, vehicles, gas, camping supplies, etc. to rebuild with.
And, lots of empty buildings. Well, empty after they clear
out all the rotting corpses.

Mr. King infuses the language in the dialogue with slang
that comes across as awkward and juvenile. He mentioned
I-95 in an area that made me flip back several pages to make
sure the characters hadn't slipped back to the east coast but,
no, he moved it to somewhere out west. Careless, that.
One of the worst things that really almost made me put the
book down was in the last quarter or so. He described several of
the male characters, in several different scenes as "he made
wee wee in his pants." What the hell??? Immature humor?
Oh, yeah... there is a major nuclear explosion in Las Vegas and
never a concern mentioned about fall-out adding to the survival

I don't think Mr. King has any interest in making his readers
think. He seems to aim for light entertainment even though
the subject matter is grisly and serious.
I also think that he writes with the intention of every book
being made into a movie, which of course most have been.

This version also included several black ink illustrations
which added to the impression that I was reading a very big
comic book. Really. It felt like a comic book story.

What have I missed? Did I expect too much from a very
popular author? Am I being a snob?

I'm glad I read it only because I can put away any thoughts
of ever reading any of his other books. I had the unfortunate
experience of seeing a few of his early movies. Yuck.

I'd like to hear what you think. Fill up the comment box.


LL said...

Well, I can tell you that I really like Stephen King, but there is a post-apoctalyptic America book called Swan Song which was much, MUCH better.

His books have been hit or miss for me. Misery was definitely his best, in my opinion.

the walking man said...

His short stories are much better I am not a fan of his longer works. Try Shawshank Redemption or The green Mile for good King reads.

Jean said...

I liked all three of those movies LL and Mark. Maybe I'll give them a try.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Meh. He leaves me cold. I think he built a story generator program and just plugs in random shit and lets it run. Formula, with some changing elements.

Jean said...

Joan, that was my impression, too, although I like the movies Mark and LL mentioned so if I can find them cheap, I'll give them a try.

Michael Morse said...

I started reading Stephen King when I was an adolescent. Maybe that is why I love his books. A writers first job is to entertain, and he certainly does that, for me anyway. And the best vampire book ever written, Dracula included, is Salem's Lot.

The Gunslinger series started when I was in ninth grade, I just finished part seven a few years ago, and I can't remember ninth grade but that series was some of the most enjoyable reading I've ever done.

Doom said...

Yeah, I know. I read some of his stuff for a while because "it was popular". Then I, too, realized he is an idiot. A leftist idiot to boot (note Boulder as a place for good guys... if you get the chance to go there someday, skip it). Further, even if the first parts of some of his books were okay (not really, but work with me), the last parts always tend to fall down. He either becomes tired of writing and 'just finishes' or he simply gets lost in his own tripe.

There was another horror writer, who was close but better. I had, for some time, almost thought that the other writer was King, putting out his best stuff, and with much better editing. Ends up not being the case, but... I cannot remember the author's name, but he was very good. Sort of what King could have been. And without the liberal bent, lack of follow-through, and lack of mistakes.

I do not think I finished "The Stand". It was my last attempt at his junk.

Jean said...

Michael, I guarantee that this gal won't be reading any kind of vampire anything. ewww.

Doom, this was nearly 1200 pages ending in anti-climax.And, I intend to avoid anything that is a horror story. *shiver*

kdzu said...

I've never liked him and to my eternal discredit took and almost child-like glee in hearing he'd been run down on the side of the road a few years back.
I don't like food that bites back too hard or books that are written just to see how much fear and loathing they can engender.
So sue me.

kdzu said...

Sorry, that was me.

Blaez said...

oh I'm so sorry you didn't like The Stand! it was one of my most favorite books from King. I am huge fan! (as if the quote on my blog doesn't just scream it). SK has alot of childish and juvenile humor in his writings. I happen like and enjoy immature/juvenile humor.

I have found that one either loves him or hates him there is no middle with SK fans/anti-fans.

I do wish you'd give him another shot and try the Green Mile and maybe even the Dark Tower series.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

I would like to write something literary, informed, deep and ponderous. But I haven't read any of his books.

Jean said...

Larry, I understand. I absolutely hate being scared.

Blaez, I loved the movie 'Green Mile' so I'll probably try the book.
Congrats on making it to Arkansas!

p.s. I have not been able to leave comments at your place for a while. the column is too narrow and I cannot read the word verification!

JCN, I'd be interested in knowing what books you like.

Anonymous said...

Never read him, so I can't say.
But I bet I do a better murder than he does.


hoosierboy said...

I hate being scared. I read maybe thirty pages of salem's Lot. That was enough.

Jean said...

Don, that wouldn't surprise me.

I know, HB. Real life can be scary enough without making up crazy shit.

foam said...

never read any of his books. i'm not into horror.

Jean said...

Foam, I might try a couple that were mentioned above but, horror ain't my thang either.

Teresa said...

Do not read Salem's Lot if you are not into horror. I read it years and years ago. It took me nearly a year to want to look out a window after dark. LOL. Of course I read it way back when I was in High School so who knows whether I would find it juvenile today or not. I never read another of his books because I am not at all a fan of horror genre and that really seemed to be his thing.

Jean said...

Teresa, that does seem to be his niche. I HATE being scared!