King's Highway pt. 1

Like a lot of folks born in the 70s, I grew up reading a lot of Stephen King.

Then, in the 90s, like a lot of English majors or those with pretensions to literariness, I became embarrassed by King and distanced myself. I still enjoyed plenty of his movies, but I stopped reading new works, I don't know, somewhere around the time of Desperation or whatever it was. Somewhere in the early-to-mid-90s, I guess, although truthfully it was before that.

It struck me the other day - why did I turn off the guy's work like that? Was I following the lead of other folks, or did I have a good reason to do so? I honestly didn't know. And it started to bug me in a way evaluating other writers doesn't. Because the time I spent with King's books in the 80s (particularly 7th through 9th grade) was huge. It felt like a huge blind spot on my nostalgic resume.

I have many fond memories of reading King. Whatever was available by him was checked out of the library by me more or less on a continuous basis 1987-1989 or so. Junior high early high school study halls are all associated with his books. I remember the summer The Unabridged Director's Cut of The Stand came out. I'd bike down to behind-the-library and sit on the stone steps by the waterfall. I had just started to smoke and was stealing cigarettes from my grandmother whenever she came over - Merit 100s, god-awful - and even now, years later, I can taste the rancid blandness and shake my fist across the years at my younger self. I can hear the cicadas buzzing and feel the cool, wet stone, and the hot and hazy summer air. It's a novel forever tied to that summer.

A friend read his most recent 11/22/63 and relayed this from the afterword or forward. "I read all the books you don't have to... Oswald acted alone." Wow. I don't even know where to go. The 1960s assassinations need to be understood beyond the propaganda. If not, like a traveler proceeding with a faulty compass, you land way off the mark when trying to evaluate anything subsequent.

Additionally, King has written recently that Warren Buffet's tax-me-more platform is not only morally sound but economically so. This perspective perplexes me; it is one happily shared by most "progressives" but I can't help but weigh it against ) why Warren Buffet actually supports this, and b) how taxes actually work, and c) the Federal Reserve System. But, I'm not winning this argument any time soon, so moving on...

Now that I've gotten out of the way, I feel I've given myself permission to just dig on the stories. Or not dig - we shall see! It's a long road ahead, but it feels good to start on something, knowing the road map. Maybe not the sights along the way, but the road map is good.

Previous to the above, the only time King really came on my radar over the last 10 years was when I was a tutor at the RIC Writing Center. A copy of On Writing was on the shelves, and I leafed through it a few times. That was where I first discovered he was a big druggie during the years of my most fervent fandom, and it was an "a-ha! So that's why It and The Tommyknockers and many others were so crazy and random..." moment for me.

A friend recently sent me a list of King's work and it struck me how little of it from the last two decades I've read. And how I've more or less forgotten most of the stuff I read so much in the 80s. All of which leads me to this: I have decided to read everything he wrote, and I will use this blog as my repository of observations, reviews, and thoughts and reminisces. Both for movies based on his work (Dawn recently surprised me by suggesting we watch every work based on King's work. My reaction? "Where have you been all my life???" If we weren't already engaged, such a thing would be an I'll marry the first girl that suggests such a project... moment) and his stories. And also, any associated-memories I uncover.

Blogging is a lonely venture and sometimes feels like an opportunity to make a fool of one's self before the world. But, something compels me to do it, even so. I like organizing principles. I like reading stuff. 

I like you.

(Delivered in my best Erwin Fletcher voice.)

First up: 'Salem's Lot, Four Past Midnight, and Night Shift. I'm reading them all simultaneously. I will intentionally follow a random path and not read/ watch anything chronologically. Can't wait to get to Maximum Overdrive... *

* When I was a PA on Batman Begins - an experience which deserves several blogs of its own - my favorite stock reply to passersby asking what was going on/ what was being filmed was "Maximum Overdrive 2."


  1. Hmm. King's catalog is pretty extensive. This could take literally years to finish, if not decades.

  2. I know. 62 published works - even at a book a week, that's a big commitment. But, we shall see!

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbuvpNeSwAc

  4. Please rename your blog to Cujo Star Omnibus for the duration of this project.

  5. Or Pre-teen Sewer Gangbang Omnibus. Either way.

  6. Reading this over again, a few weeks into the project, I am embarrassed by my damning-by-faint praise and arrogance. In my defense, I get grumpy about the Fed/ JFK, but who the heck am I to criticize the guy? I am enjoying re-reading these (or reading for the firs time, in many cases) far more than I imagined. Can't wait to get my other blogs up/ keep on truckin'...