Stephen King discussion

TwilightEL

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I almost always like his short stories. Everything's Eventual has some of my favorite stories and they're great with suspense and psychology.

I typically don't like his novels. Pet Sematary was terrible. I didn't find it scary--the creatures are as slow and smelly as zombies, but as vulnerable to harm as humans are. The psychological element could've made up for that, but I just didn't get into the main characters' head.

I tried reading The Stand (unabridged version). I got maybe halfway through before I had to quit. I absolutely loved the discussion about the spread of the disease-there's this one especially good passage describing how one man driving is spreading the disease and it has a line something like "He tipped the pretty waitress a dollar bill crawling with death" that sent shivers down my spine. I also liked the survival discussions, how people deal with the post-apocalyptic world, and the description of the "second epidemic". But after that, when the characters were joining that old woman or the walking man, I didn't like the theology or the philosophy, I was only interested in a few characters and I just got bored with the story.

Despite this, I recently bought Firestarter because the premise sounded so intriguing. I'm not very far in, but I've really been digging it. Charlie and Andy running away at the beginning is so intense and real. Andy's flashbacks have been chilling and I'm really interested in his character. The thing is, I really want Charlie and Andy to escape the Shop and have happy, free lives, but it's completely obvious that that's never going to happen. I think that's the best element of suspense--when you really want and hope that the characters will escape, but you know they won't.

Oh, and another thing. Is it just me, or does Stephen King always try to incorporate sex into his stories, even when it won't fit? It's like he always has to have some risque comment, so he just throws in a character thinking about sex for no good reason. Sometimes it works, but a lot of the time it's really out of place and bizarre.
 
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Desperation was a novel where the sex made no sense, and was thrown in there for a perverted fantasy I felt.

Same with Gerald's Game. Anyway, yeah, I agree. A lot of the time Stephen King is sensational just for the sake of being sensational, and for the most part, his stuff doesn't come across as very horrifying to me. I've always felt like his stories were more along the lines of modern fantasy, with zombies and evil cars replacing the typical tropes. I don't mean that as a criticism. I think Stephen King's a rather good popular writer. I actually really enjoyed the Stand.

But I think his strength comes more from creating a mythology around his monsters (i.e. The Stand or It) rather than terrifying the reader.

That said, some of his early stuff scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Cujo was one. Dead Zone was another. But that was a long time ago. I don't know how well that scariness would hold up now.
 
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Same with Gerald's Game. Anyway, yeah, I agree. A lot of the time Stephen King is sensational just for the sake of being sensational, and for the most part, his stuff doesn't come across as very horrifying to me. I've always felt like his stories were more along the lines of modern fantasy, with zombies and evil cars replacing the typical tropes.

That's a really good point. Actually, you could almost argue that Stephen King is one of the very few true fantasy writers around.

Look at this definition of science. Most of the magic in modern stories like Harry Potter follows concrete rules. Yeah, JKR doesn't go into why or how magic warps reality, but a lot of authors do, and magic still follows rules--you do Y, X happens. Every time. Most fantasy is less magic and more fantastical science.

But the things that happen in most of Stephen King's novels defy explanation. The characters are never guaranteed the same results from the same actions, they can't conduct experiments--they're barely holding on to rationality by the skin of their teeth. The logic of the pet cemetery or of the walking man are like the logic of Grimm's fairy tales. They barely make sense.
 
That's a really good point. Actually, you could almost argue that Stephen King is one of the very few true fantasy writers around.

I'd agree. The Stand read like a modern-day take on Lord of the Rings to me, and It was really in the format of a much more horrific take on Narnia-style coming-of-age fantasies.

TwilightEL said:
Look at this definition of science. Most of the magic in modern stories like Harry Potter follows concrete rules. Yeah, JKR doesn't go into why or how magic warps reality, but a lot of authors do, and magic still follows rules--you do Y, X happens. Every time. Most fantasy is less magic and more fantastical science.

There's the old cliche about "all magic being science we don't yet understand", but what makes magic interesting is that we don't understand it, or that there's something fundamentally profound in the manner of making magic that makes it worth explaining. I think fantasy really points out the inherent (but necessary) flaw of trying to classify books into genres. Because what's classified as "fantasy" usually isn't fantastic in the least. It's about interchangable elves and dwarves and dragons.

TwilightEL said:
But the things that happen in most of Stephen King's novels defy explanation. The characters are never guaranteed the same results from the same actions, they can't conduct experiments--they're barely holding on to rationality by the skin of their teeth. The logic of the pet cemetery or of the walking man are like the logic of Grimm's fairy tales. They barely make sense.

I think that's a good analogy there. The true seat of horror is facing the terror of the irrational, and the seat of fantasy is marveling in the wonder of the irrational.

Ultimate Houde said:
But I also agree with The Stand was a great book. The gathering of souls, and the final clash at the end, awesometastic.

No doubt. I haven't read it in years, but I have warm memories of the massive director's cut version.
 
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Stephen King is one of my favourite authors. So far, I've read Carrie, 'Salem's Lot, Rage, The Long Walk, The Shining, IT, and the first four Dark Towers. I'm making my way through The Stand right now, which is pretty damn big. I'll probably finish the rest of the Dark Tower series afterwards, and then probably have a break from him.
 
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Stephen King is one of my favourite authors. So far, I've read Carrie, 'Salem's Lot, Rage, The Long Walk, The Shining, IT, and the first four Dark Towers. I'm making my way through The Stand right now, which is pretty damn big. I'll probably finish the rest of the Dark Tower series afterwards, and then probably have a break from him.

I was going to suggest Needful Things to Twilight, and forgot, but if you're a big Stephen King fan, you should check it out too. The villain is in the shadows through most of the book, with the majority of the action being about conflicts between the people of the town.

It's long, but it's very good.
 
I was going to suggest Needful Things to Twilight, and forgot, but if you're a big Stephen King fan, you should check it out too. The villain is in the shadows through most of the book, with the majority of the action being about conflicts between the people of the town.

It's long, but it's very good.

I plan to eventually read the majority of his books since I like his characters and his stories (most of the time) and his writing style is quite easy to get into. It's just that I've been reading pretty much most of those books one after the other, so I'm getting kind of tired of his style and need a break for a bit.
 
I plan to eventually read the majority of his books since I like his characters and his stories (most of the time) and his writing style is quite easy to get into. It's just that I've been reading pretty much most of those books one after the other, so I'm getting kind of tired of his style and need a break for a bit.

Yeah, I was just saying, cuz, I remember it being my second favorite behind The Stand.
 
I've read nearly everything by King, and while I'll be the first to admit, not everything he writes is gold. I just really enjoy his storytelling. Those of you reading the Dark Tower series, it may behoove you to read King's collaborations with Peter Straub (The Talisman and The Black House), and the Stand (the Castle Rock stuff doesn't hurt either).

I hate to admit, I really enjoyed Desperation and The Regulators, I got totally sucked in by the gimmick of two authors expounding on the same idea/characters.

Fun little bit of trivia; the main character of The Talisman passes through my home town of Zanesville on his quest to the west coast.
 
I've read nearly everything by King, and while I'll be the first to admit, not everything he writes is gold. I just really enjoy his storytelling. Those of you reading the Dark Tower series, it may behoove you to read King's collaborations with Peter Straub (The Talisman and The Black House), and the Stand (the Castle Rock stuff doesn't hurt either).

I hate to admit, I really enjoyed Desperation and The Regulators, I got totally sucked in by the gimmick of two authors expounding on the same idea/characters.

Fun little bit of trivia; the main character of The Talisman passes through my home town of Zanesville on his quest to the west coast.

Zanesville?


.......


I knew it! You're an imaginary character in an imaginary world!
 
King's Night Shift compilation contains some of the best short stories I've ever read, to the point where they made me want to write. I think my favourite was "The Ledge".... no supernatural or anything, just plain old suspense. To a ridiculous degree.

Also, I was actually thinking just this morning about how maybe the magic in the Harry Potter universe is just another level of reality, totally explainable by science, and that some people are attuned to it the way sharks are attuned to electromagnetism. Only in my head this was far more complex and smart-sounding.

Also, anybody who likes King's shorts should try and find a copy of "The Stories Of Ray Bradbury".... it contains 99 in total, ranging from to Twilight Zone-esque horror to brilliant sci-fi to heartwarming philosophy and family atmosphere. I stumbled upon it in my high school's library during a period off last year and was immeadiately hooked. I'd sneak back there whenever I could afford the time to read more and more of them. There was one about death right after our budgie had just died, that was just.... perfect.
 
I'm like halfway through 'Salem's Lot. I just started reading King last year, and it's good but. . . he has a very annoying way of writing that I'm not sure I like.
 
The Stand is one of the greatest books of all time.

'Salem's Lot, I read when I was twelve. Gave me nightmares.

For those of you who enjoy writing in addition to reading, his memoir On Writing is both entertaining from a biographical sense and very enlightening toward the "career" of writing, or just generally improving one's writing. He doesn't get too authoritative about the craft, but definitely offers great guidance.

The only thing I have ever read that I didn't like by King was one of his newer novels, Cell. Seriously, hated it.
 
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