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Stephen King

Pasted from the old board

lunababymoonchild  (Original Message) Sent: 18/11/2008 19:41
This has been on my mind, on and off,  for some time now and I'd like to get opinions from those who are in the habit of reading so that I can sort myself  out.

I love Stephen King and have read many of his books.  I stopped as I felt, and then as told, by a family member that  they were afffecting me badly.  That was around 20 years ago and I've just bought Salem's Lot and intend to read that (at some point!), so I'm getting back into it.  What I want to know is this : in the grand scheme of literature is Stephen King any good as a writer?

I just can't make up my own mind (not that it's keeping me awake at night), and I know that I do enjoy monumental trash sometimes - although I do tend to recognise that it is monumental trash.

So, I reckon that he will never be James Joyce or Shakespeare for example, but can the boy write at all?


Message 2 of 13 in Discussion  

From: i-wish-i-was Sent: 18/11/2008 21:16
Luna, I recently read a few Stephen King books and I loved them. For years I imagined they were not my thing, as I don't usually bother with horror or fantasy. I don't recall what inspired me to give them a go, but I will certainly read more. As you say, I wouldn't like to have to place King in the grand scheme of all things literary! However he has a terrific imagination and he has the ability to really get you hooked on the story. What effect did the books have upon you? I wondered if I would have nightmares, but so far have managed undisturbed nights.

Message 3 of 13 in Discussion  

From: lunababymoonchild Sent: 18/11/2008 22:32
It was a negative effect, but difficult to describe.  I'm not sure it was his books alone but they certainly contributed and I was reading a lot of them, one after the other so you could say that I was immersed in them and interspersing them with true life horror, like the Moors Murders and Auschwitz etc.  At the time I was living in digs (i.e one room) in a town 120 odd miles away from my family and everybody I knew, and working shifts in the most boring job in the world (and me thinking, at that point, that typing was the most boring job in the world) so it wasn't the happiest time of my life.

It was my brother that pointed out that it was having a negative effect on my outlook and suggested that I gave up reading Stephen King.  I gave up reading the real life ones at that point too.

Incidentally, the only book that has ever given me nightmares was a Brian Masters (factual) book on Dennis Nilsen, although there are several Stephen King books that I've picked up and read the first page and no further.  One of those was Misery and I ended up going to the cinema to watch the film!  

I was fine with the Baron's recommendation of Banquet For The Damned and I enjoyed watching Apparitions, so I know I'm going thoroughly enjoy Salem's Lot, which I've seen several times on TV (the movie with David Soul in it).


Message 4 of 13 in Discussion  

From: KiwiCaro1 Sent: 18/11/2008 22:47
I have only read one Stephen King book and that was Misery.  I read it to the end, but it put me off King forever.  I just found the title far too true - the whole thing was misery for me.  I now realise that one thing I dislike in any book is a total focus on one story, and this one is the ultimate in that, from what I remember.  There was no relief at all from the main story.  

The only book I can remember giving me nightmares was Noddy and the Goblins!  

Are there other Stephen Kings that I might enjoy, do you think?  I didn't care for the cruelty in Misery or the unremittingness of it, so if he is usually like that there wouldn't be any point in me reading others.  I have read a lot of true-life crime (especially British and NZ mysterious or controversial ones) and crime detection novels, but not horror ones.

Cheers, Caro.

Message 5 of 13 in Discussion  

From: TristansGhost Sent: 19/11/2008 00:33
I suspect his books willl have a real legacy having the key ingrediance of being popular and well written, like most classics. His books will around in 100 years time I'm sure.

I think the there are two key elements to Kings books. Firstly he write's excellent characters with great depth and even the villans have character and he gives you some understanding of why there like the are, rather just being bad. Secondly there a lot of suspense in his books. There's generally not that many horror moments in the books but your always on your toes in case one is coming. These two work together to highten the experience; you've characters you really want to be okay in suspenseful situations. Yes the horror moment can be really bad, but like I say there not that many.

I'd recommend Dolores Clarbourne (sp) which I wouldn't really call horror and The Green Mile. I also really enjoyed The Talisman which was a bit different for King (and Strub), The Long Walk and IT. IT's quiet a commitment though.

The other I've read are:
The  Dead Zone, Dreamcatcher, Firestarter, On Writing, Rage , Road Walk, Salems Lot, The Gunslinger, The Running Man, The Stand

The worst I've read was Dreamcatcher

message 6 of 13 in Discussion  

From: bookfreak0 Sent: 19/11/2008 07:41
I have only read a few Stephen King (Carrie, Misery, Rose Madder and The Shining) and can't really say I enjoyed any of them.   Sounds odd to say it but I found them all dull.  If  I'm going to read horror and nasty stuff my personal preference is the psychological Serial Killer genre!

What I have enjoyed is the film adaptations of S.K's novels, especially Carrie and I also thought well of a stage version of Misery.   So for me it seems that I enjoy his stories more in a visual presentation.  Strange, he is the only author I can think of where I have enjoyed the films more than the books.

Message 7 of 13 in Discussion  

From: mirandashellathome Sent: 19/11/2008 19:43
I've read a lot of SK and really enjoyed a lot of the earlier ones.  Salem's Lot was very scary, as was Misery and Gerald's Game!   I've found his later ones not so good and my own personal opinion is that it's been since he stopped drinking he's lost something in how he tells a story.

I love his characterisations and feel the characters are deep and well-rounded, especially for the genre.   And the fact that he concentrates on the story so much, keeping the focus on the situation, only adds to the horror for me.  

I also love how deadpan he can be.   One of the most horrible moments in Misery is almost a throw-away comment.  But it really shocked me.  

To sum up, at his best he is the best horror writer around.  At his worst........meh

Message 8 of 13 in Discussion  

From: lunababymoonchild Sent: 19/11/2008 20:16
I'm sorry Caro I should have answered this yesterday! - where does the time go?

Anyway, I haven't read Misery so can't comment on that but you might enjoy The Eyes of The Dragon which - if memory serves - is not unremitting horror but magic and fantasy.  I thoroughly enjoyed it when I read it and it was very different to the usual Stephen King I'd read up until that point.

From the film I must say that the cruelty in Misery didn't appeal to me either and I'm always used to King being more on the supernatural/horror side than actual cruelty - in other words this was the first time I'd seen a story of King's being that cruel.

I have read Dolores Claiborne and enjoyed it and also Ruth Madder, but these are both less supernatural/horror than say, Insomnia and do focus on the main sotry and themain character throughout.  Perhaps Nightmares and Dreamscapes would suit you better since it's a series of short stories and shorter than his usual 400-500 pages.  It also does not focus on one story or character, so may seem less unremitting.

Stephen King's stories are, as far as I am aware, all horror stories in one way or another so if you don't enjoy that particular genre then perhaps he's not for you.  I do know that here in Scotland it's very difficult to get a Stephen King novel out of the library because they are so popular - wonder what that says about us ?  


Message 9 of 13 in Discussion  

From: Loupgris2008 Sent: 21/11/2008 19:22
I've read pretty well all the SK books. My favourite (and it still is) is "It". I found it genuinely scary, with well portrayed, credible characters, a pacey storyline and moments of real skin-crawling.

I went through a phase where I read as much as I could of his work. And I still have so many of his novels and short stories. But now, having read them, they seem to have lost their power to enthral me (other than "It").

I find his novellas and short stories have stood the test of time, however.

Message 10 of 13 in Discussion  

From: mirandashellathome Sent: 22/11/2008 21:05
The Library Police!   Brrrrrr......

Message 11 of 13 in Discussion  

From: kitsumehime Sent: 24/11/2008 00:02
I have read a number of King's novels and the one that had the greatest impression on me was Needful Things.  It is the ultimate lesson that having things does not make for happiness.  Didn't go to tag sales for years afterward.

Message 12 of 13 in Discussion  

From: TristansGhost Sent: 24/11/2008 01:54
(Please ignore, quick test)

Message 13 of 13 in Discussion  

From: lunababymoonchild Sent: 24/11/2008 22:59
I loved Needful Things, Kitsumehime, not one of his more horoor books, I found.

(Watch me successully post this!)


Wish I'd thought of that!  Thank you, iwishiwas

So, we have found people who enjoy reading Stephen King but do we know if he can actually write?

I read a comment, on Amazon, in a review of one of his books - don't remember which book, though -  that you can't be published for thirty odd years and be unable to write but ..........................  Catherine Cookson has been published for easily that long and her writing isn't that good (based on the Mallen Trilogy only).  Popularity and large sales doesn't necessarily mean that the end product is good, it just means that it's popular, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, however, can King write?


I don't want to stray off topic, but it occurs to me that the one thing this new board lacks is the option to recommend the posts of others.

How would that work then, Gareth? What happens when you recommend a post? Can't promise anything, but I might be able to rustle something up...

If I may................

What happened on the old board - MSN - was :  if you wanted to recommend a thread you  went into the thread itself, posted and then clicked on the heart at the top of the post next to the word recommend, which is next to the reply option.  Then, on the Board itself under the little heart symbol, you would see a number which indicated how many times this thread had been recommended.


Subject         Messages        Started By               Last Reply

NEW BOARD! 19            1     Evie_again              25/11/2008 09:53
Stephen King 13                   lunababymoonchild  24/11/2008 22:59

So, from above the 1 in between Messages and Started By of the NEW BOARD! thread is the number of recommendations - there's a heart symbol in between Messages and Started By on the actual board but I couldn't figure out how to do that here!


Thanks for that Luna, I'll look into it - but like I say, unfortunately I can't make any promises.

Not that I know the first thing about PhpBB, but I suspect it may be difficult to add to this board. It was just a nice extra on MSN.

In the admin panel we have these extra bitty-bobs called 'Portals' - I'm not sure how to use them properly yet, and I'm not entirely sure there's one that will do what we want. For some reason there are ones that let us rate other users (ghastly idea!), but I can't see one that lets us rate topics or messages. There is something called 'POPULAR', but I think it's basically just a search for the most viewed topics.

"For some reason there are ones that let us rate other users (ghastly idea!), "

Oh. well, Mike, when we get sick of Big Cups for books and authors we could have one for posters!  10 points for Mike, 8 for Himadri, 6 for Gareth, 2 for Caro.  I can see it going down well.  We would probably only lose about half of our members.

Cheers, Caro.

10 points for Mike

Not a typical vote, I suspect, Caro!  Very Happy

Oh, I think it would be, and if not then they are very dumb.  (See, already controversy!)

Oh, OK then - the cheque's in the post...  Wink

So, to get back to Stepehn King - since i-wish-i-was went to the trouble of transferring the thread! - anybody got any other comments to make as to whether the man can actually write at all?


I think he can.   There are parts of Salem's Lot where he talks, in the character of the vampire, about American people and how nourished they are.  There is a lot of stuff about the differences in settlement and society between America and Eastern Europe.  It's not politcally or philosophically deep but it is interesting to find in a horror story!    Razz

He also writes well about being a writer.   Sometimes it's part of the plot and sometimes he goes off on a flight of fancy.  

He also writes well about how children handle fear.  Boys especially.  

I would say he's not the best at writing female characters.   His 'normal' female characters, rather than the main scary characters, can be a little shallow sometimes.

lunababymoonchild wrote:
Wish I'd thought of that!  Thank you, iwishiwas

So, we have found people who enjoy reading Stephen King but do we know if he can actually write?

I read a comment, on Amazon, in a review of one of his books - don't remember which book, though -  that you can't be published for thirty odd years and be unable to write but ..........................  Catherine Cookson has been published for easily that long and her writing isn't that good (based on the Mallen Trilogy only).  Popularity and large sales doesn't necessarily mean that the end product is good, it just means that it's popular, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, however, can King write?


From: MSN NicknameLoupgris2008 Sent: 01/12/2008 19:54

I also enjoyed "Needful Things".

King never seemed to recapture his previous flair after his very severe road accident. His own near-death experience seems to have knocked out much of the really creepy stuff, leaving us with a sort of horrid-things-that-go-"woooohoooo!" type of book. (You can see the kind of literary critic I am...)

Still, while I enjoyed him, I REALLY enjoyed him. And again I still think his short stories and novellas have stood time's test.


It was after he stopped drinking.  The next book he wrote (which I've forgotten the title of... Embarassed ) was pretty bad and then he never seemed to get better.  Although to be honest, I've haven't read a new one for years.

Our local library has bought a reissued set of The Dark Tower series. Having heard about it on this board I thought I'd give him a try. There was a very interesting introduction by Mr King saying how as a teeneager he was entranced by Lord of the Rings and then, a little later, by Clint Eastwood in the Dollars films, He decided he wanted to write a story which was a combination and many years later this series was the outcome.

I am not very keen on the horror genre because I dislike being made scared and I am uninterested in cruelty. Those are very general comments and I am sure I have loved books which contain either or both of these traits but I avoid them if I can. However despite the slaughter and blood The Gunslinger wasn't too bad. Stephen King  does write well and there is some good characterisation and mystery in the story. It was very very reminiscent of Clint E but there was no point in which I said 'this is silly' and I read it happily to the end. However there were a couple of sad incidents and I think  I don't care enough to read the rest of the series. I suppose if there is nothing I like the look of in the library I might possibly be prepared to give the next one a go but I doubt it.

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