Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Undisputed Master of Horror Himself!

Okay, first blog. Talking about horror entertainment and why I am a fan of it. Let's start with something I know very well.

Stephen King.

Now, this name will evoke several different responses from people. He is the most popular author EVER, and popularity to some means overrated and, in some cases, not capable of real literary achievement. If one could look beyond the popularity and somewhat over-saturation in the media, then one will find an immensely talented author who has created a world of his own.

I'm a Constant Reader (the name King gives to his real fans) and have been ever since I was given my first King book, Needful Things, as a Christmas present. I'm thinking about getting the words Constant Reader tattooed on me. Anyway. Since then, I have read ALMOST everything he's written. Most notably missing from my list of works I have read is the entire Dark Tower series.

I know. I KNOW. This is supposed to be King's huge triumph, shining glory, crowning achievement thing but seriously, I read a couple chapters of The Gunslinger and just could not get into it as much. Trust me, I will try again in the future.

But like any true fan, I am very critical of my favorite author's works. I don't love every word he writes. I hated every word of The Tommyknockers and several other stories that I felt were just okay or mediocre... or ones I didn't understand. There are two King novels of which I absolutely adore every single letter - one of his earlier novels, first published under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, The Long Walk, and his first novel to achieve real literary praise, Bag of Bones.

The Long Walk is an absolutely fantastically devastatingly engaging story of a crazy life or death contest in an alternate reality. (Synopsis: One hundred teenage boys compete in the Long Walk, where they must simply walk continually until everyone is eliminated and there is only one winner left. Stopping or walking too slowly causes elimination, which is the ultimate price - the boys are shot dead by military guards monitoring the Long Walk.) The story itself is simple, a quick read, but has so many unanswered questions and leaves the reader constantly asking "Why?" Why would these boys agree to this when they knew what might happen? The Prize for the winner is huge - whatever you want for the rest of your life! - but is it really worth it? The way King writes the story makes you go through the experience with these boys. Whenever I read it, I always imagine that instead of just sitting on my butt reading the story, I'm actually walking while reading it, and I cannot imagine walking for that long. Only King could make the simple act of WALKING such a horrifying experience. If you haven't checked out this amazing book, do it now!

Next blog I will talk about Bag of Bones. Not just my favorite King novel, but probably my favorite novel in general. Such a beautiful story.

Leave a comment! What's your favorite King novel? Is he a really talented literary author, or simply an author of scary stories? Is he overrated?