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Ruminations on the Works of Stephen King
#71
This thread made me check and see what the man's got coming up. Another story collection called Just After Sunset, due in November (which has The Cat From Hell in it. cool), but much more interesting is what comes after that.

King's got some mammoth son of a bitch coming out called Under the Dome. Apparently, it could be published at 1800 pages, though I have to believe that would be cut back. Some kind of epic, apparently.
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#72
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Originally Posted by DARKMITE8
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Does it differ from the flick? I didn't get a chance to watch the movie (which feels like 3 episodes of any standard paranormal mystery tv show strung together) until adulthood. Fortunately, Walken's performance was able to inject Cronenberg's "atypical for Cronenberg" movie with a sardonic weariness that made it stand out. I haven't seen the AMH series. Never read the book.

It ends on a very melancholy, but thematic perfect note. The whole book revolves both directly and indirectly around the Johnny/Sarah relationship and the last scene with Sarah alone packs an emotional punch.

When I was younger, I was more into King's more blatantly horror stuff like Christine and Salem's Lot, but I now think The Dead Zone is his finest work.
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#73
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Originally Posted by DaveB
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Naturally. But King wasn't expected to write about anything that he wasn't an expert on. He set his own rules, picked the topics he liked - he had full control of the situation, which is more than what many music (or movie) writers don't have. Expertise on the subject shouldn't have even entered into it. If you don't know about something, don't write about it, lest you look like an idiot. Or do some research.

The point is King does not do analytical writing. It's not his forte. His writing on fiction is marginally better because that what he does.

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Originally Posted by DaveB
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If you don't like reading that I think he sucks ass in that capacity, don't read my posts on the topic. It's a personal preference.

Clever. Of course, I'm not the one asking why I should read your posts, as you did with King. Which is why I wrote that.



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Originally Posted by DaveB
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Of course, that's why they gave it to him. I'm also pretty sure that Don Johnson got a record contract in the 80s because of his name and not necessarily his skill. That doesn't make "Heartbeat" any better a song (although I bet King could mount a vehement defense of it on the basis of its super-awesome-ness).

Some people like that song. It's not impossible to find good aspects of inferior work. The guitar tones on Limp Bizkit records are pretty good; it doesn't make them any better of a band.
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#74
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Originally Posted by Fat Elvis
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As for music, his fondness for contemporary pop country is irritating (and sad).

But perhaps not entirely unexpected. I think he likes that 50's/60's, rockabilly influenced kind of music a lot. Twangy, steel guitar laden country (even the poppy stuff has a lot of that in there; it's how, I guess, you can tell it's still "country" pop as opposed to . . .y'know - pop. . .pop).
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#75
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Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd
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Head Down, in Nightmares and Dreamscapes, on the other hand, is excellent. It's a long essay he wrote about his son's Little League team, and it's probably the best thing in that book.

Agreed. This and "My Pretty Pony Time", which I believe is also in "Nightmares & Dreamscapes", were the main things I had in mind when I noted above that he can write moving non-horror work when he wants.
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#76
the opening for Needful Things was probably one of the best intros of any book he has written.

i'm a big fan of mr.kings work. I really enjoy his short stories compilations
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#77
I was once an unabashed and unapologetic King fan, but I've really grown away from him. As Schwartz already said quite well, the "just start writing" approach rarely results in a very satisfying story. The more I learned about effective storytelling, the less King's approach appealed to me. I no longer enjoyed his repetitive ticks, his usual go-to themes (enough with the wife abuse, Steve), or his meandering narratives.

Like a lot of people, I began to think over years that he was slipping. What was really happening was that I was expecting more, and he wasn't developing significantly. In order to relive the glory days of my King mania, I dug out my copy of Salem's Lot last year, and prepared to be re-dazzled. It resolutely refused to happen. It felt like extraordinarily long-winded fan fiction, complete with a "Mary Sue". Ben Mears comes across as an idealized version of the author far too often. And then there's the chapter that gives us the incredibly dull history of the town.

I didn't finish it. I don't think I'll repeat that experiment with Carrie or The Shining. I'm better off with my memories, and the respective film adaptations. I know from recent experience that those still hold up.
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#78
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Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd
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King's got some mammoth son of a bitch coming out called Under the Dome. Apparently, it could be published at 1800 pages, though I have to believe that would be cut back. Some kind of epic, apparently.

Now you've got me very excited to see what this one's about. I don't mind King's tomes (ie - unabridged the Stand), and am in the need for a book to last me a little bit longer than the ones I've been reading.
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#79
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Originally Posted by IggytheBorg
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Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, some of his later stuff is pretty poor compared to the earlier work (TDT being a prime example). BUt some of the latter day stuff isn't bad; the beginning of "Cell" was a great read. "Bag of Bones" was a good ghost story. "Desperation" was a fun bloody romp. And I liked "From a Buick 8", even though it gets little love. "Hearts in Atlantis" even had some moments, but some of the best were in the stories that weren't horror.

But as for revisiting his work, I read the original version of "The Stand" twice, and the unabridged version once, which is kind of like reading it again (it's my favorite book, not surprisingly), and it held up each time. I actually hadn't ever read 'Carrie" for reasons I'll never understand until fairly recently as well, and was simply blown away, kicking myself for not reding this years ago. So even today, one of his older books has some power on a reader.

Edited to add: Don't kill me, but I even kinda liked "Dreamcatcher".

I'm not going to kill you for liking Dreamcatcher. I'm one of those who has fallen out of love with King, and oddly, Dreamcatcher felt like one of his old ones again. It felt bloated until we met Kurtz, with the helicopter attack. I fell right through the hole in the page at that point. King says that, due to his injuries, he had to stop using his word processor with that book, and start writing it longhand on legal pads. I can tell the moment he did, when one of the guys is in the snow, and feels the presence of Mr. Grey swooping past them in the dark. Gave me chills. The rest of the novel was mostly a chase story, in the snow, but it was an involving one.

I can't be with you on "Bag of Bones". The reeked of laziness, sloppiness, boredom on King's part. Every time he did something that sucked me in, he'd rudely and stupidly kick me out of the story again. Stuff I liked ... the ghost under the bed ... the rock throwing scene . What I didnt. Everything else, practically ... fake little girl Kyra, sexy sexy Mattie (and King dealing with her harshly out of guilt for fantasizing about a younger woman), the hideous over-the-top rape scene. Just awful.
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#80
Okay. My first King was Firecatcher, in paperback in the high school library. Since it was a thriller, I didn't think of him as a horror writer. My next novels by him were The Shining and Salem's Lot, which I bought myself (I still have them, the covers coming off though). Then Cujo, Dead Zone, Carrie (a bit of a let down), Different Seasons, Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, The Stand (original version). Oh, and there was Christine, the puzzling stand-out BAD King novel of this period, but it didn't let me down. I think that CUJO is his most perfect novel ... it's just an amazing piece of work.

And then there was THE STAND, which was sooo good, and then sort of fizzled out in Boulder, and then lurched towards the idiotic ending.

IT also was mixed. It was like a bad novel and a good novel had been combined, alternating chapters. Except the good novel (with the characters as kids) was given this ludicrous porno ending, and the boring novel (with them as adults) had a decent ending where the Hero gets the Girl. Just the Hero, not the Hero and All his Friends. The porno gang bang in the sewers was a big slap in the face, when I started looking at a trusted friend a little warily.

I think there were good moments after IT. There were the Bachman Books, which were mostly amazing. But there was something that made me refuse to ever buy King in hardcover ever again, and that was TOMMYKNOCKERS. I did buy that in hardcover, on faith that it would mostly be good, as most everyhing by King was. TOMMYKNOCKERS was not. When I read later that King had been writing it while his nose bled from all the cocaine he'd been snorting, it made total sense. A recent reread showed the thing full of references to nosebleeds. But at the time I felt incredibly betrayed. I'd trusted the guy, and I'd been given a ream of scrambled ravings, not a real story. I do remember concern for the little kid and his magic trick, but that was it. Not knowing about the cocaine and booze problems at the time, I blamed King's books going to hell on poor Peter Straub, who he'd collaborated with on THE TALISMAN with.

Anyway, there were good spots, like MISERY, (wait, I did like that enough to buy in hardback!) but I started actually not finishing King books anymore, just getting fed up. First one was Needful Things. Maybe it's because I was in college and I was distracted by classes and other reading, but I just found it incredibly shallow and mean-spirited. (I did read it a lot later and felt the same about it, but it did have an entertaining blow-shit-to-hell ending).

Basically, I started to find King's books to be getting meaner and more stupid. He didn't seem to care about his characters any more, I felt he was sneering at them, setting them up for a killing, and that I was supposed to root for the Supernatural baddies to take them out. I didn't like that feeling.

INSOMNIA was another of his books that I tried, and dropped, and to this day have not finished. At a certain point, I knew he was just rambling. It had the Tommyknockers "Not really a story" feel to it, and I later read about King saying he'd got stuck with the story, got writer's block, and then decided to fix it by turning into Dark Tower linked novel.

I remember the Green Mile, and how I felt it was a gimmicky stunt, and a not particularly great story, and how cheap the Saintly Christ character vs. snivelly bad guy opposition rubbed me the wrong way.

I remember the Desperation / Regulators stunt, and how bad Regulators was, but how I was surprised by Desperation's goodness for a while(and it lasted til almost half-way through the novel before losing passion). Regulators, I found out later, had been an old script that had never been produced, that he'd dusted off and changed character names to match the names in Desperation, and then let his publisher market, or proposed, himself, the marketing of those books together, with their linking cover art. The fact that he'd participate in that, in that gimmicky way, trying to force his readers to buy two books by artificial linking, has made me feel very angry at him and the way he basically lied to his audience, for the sake of selling two books at the same time.

Oh, yes, and the Dark Tower. I loved the first book (which ended perfectly with the next-to-last chapter). I liked a lot of the second book, but there was a lot of wierd focuslessness, and I was creeped out by the Susanna character, and not happy with the mutilation of Roland early on. I kept up on the progress of the Dark Tower on newsgroups, but only in the last few years did I finally force my way through THE WASTELANDS, of which only the train ride with Blaine had anything worthy of King's old storytelling power. Everything else was painful to read. (I think WASTELANDS was written roughly the same time as TOMMYKNOCKERS, during the worst of his cocaine /alcohol bingings). I've paid attention to what happened to the continuing volumes, but at a distance. Bad King makes my blood pressue boil when I read him, because it's so blatantly bad, and King tends to make it worse by pointing out how bad it is in the story itself, making it worse.

Bag of Bones was one of those blood pressure boiling books. King had wanted more money for this book from his old publisher, and left them when they wouldn't pay. Before he left, there had been an article in the Wall Street Journal, about how his sales had been falling, mostly due to women readers abanding King's books because, in general they thought King was "all about horror now, not about characters." When Bag of Bones came out, with a new publisher, marketed as a "haunted love story", and emphasizing his "lyrical" writing, it looked like he was trying to woo those women readers back. A love story. A grieving widower finding romance after tragedy. Well, King tried, for a bit, I guess, with the fake cute little girl,.... but then he just started blowing shit up right and left, with the rotting ghosts, and the porno sex dreams, and the porno rape scenes, the grotesque murder of the love interest (which he said was partly due to his own guilt for fantasizing about younger women through this character) ... It was a giant ugly festering mess. I didn't pay for the book, but I was still pissed off, that's how bad it was.

And most of the time, that's the way it's been. GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON ... unplanned, sloppy, wierdly hostile to it's little-girl character, and a story which didn't figure out how the hell the girl got lost (it's got no less than 3 different versions of how she got lost in the same story, contradicting eachother, due to unrevised rough starts never being edited out in a rewrite or two). The online novel "RIDING THE BULLET", which was an amazingly padded, repetitious piece of horrible nonsense. At this point, I have actively given up on him because reading him only enrages ... it's not worth it for the little flashes of old brilliance that may show up.

I really think that King was damaged permanently by his old drug and booze use around TOMMYKNOCKERS, and cleaning up only left him bitter and angry at his lost ability. I find it sad as hell.

I find it wierd that I've still got so many King books unread. He just seems to be coming out faster and faster, and I have totally lost faith that he's returned to caring about quality. The only fairly recent exception for me seemed to be DREAMCATCHER. Everything else I get turned off by the opening paragraphs ... like with CELL, where within the first few pages I can feel King's bitter sneering voice condemning the characters (like the woman in the business suit on her cell phone, just for being a woman in a business suit on a cell phone) before driving them all mad and having them kill eachother. Or From a Buick Eight, where all the cops seem linked by one Mind about things, but seem not to have any real personalities seperate from eachother. I guess I'm just done with King, and I'm afraid that my dislike of current King has bled over onto my old King favorites and poisoned them. His continual recycling of elements from his older, better books, has made me look at his older books with a jaundiced eye, which is a shame.

Sorry for the rant.
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#81
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Originally Posted by Greg David
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I was once an unabashed and unapologetic King fan, but I've really grown away from him. As Schwartz already said quite well, the "just start writing" approach rarely results in a very satisfying story. The more I learned about effective storytelling, the less King's approach appealed to me. I no longer enjoyed his repetitive ticks, his usual go-to themes (enough with the wife abuse, Steve), or his meandering narratives.

Like a lot of people, I began to think over years that he was slipping. What was really happening was that I was expecting more, and he wasn't developing significantly. In order to relive the glory days of my King mania, I dug out my copy of Salem's Lot last year, and prepared to be re-dazzled. It resolutely refused to happen. It felt like extraordinarily long-winded fan fiction, complete with a "Mary Sue". Ben Mears comes across as an idealized version of the author far too often. And then there's the chapter that gives us the incredibly dull history of the town.

I didn't finish it. I don't think I'll repeat that experiment with Carrie or The Shining. I'm better off with my memories, and the respective film adaptations. I know from recent experience that those still hold up.

You know, I found King's advice in ON WRITING to be suspect too. I think he recommends that people write the way King writes NOW, not the way he used to write. In the past, I've read him talking about how he wrote, back when he was white hot, and he talks about planning out his novels. He said he didn't outline, but he would turn things over in his head for months BEFORE diving in. So he was planning, "outlining" in his head. Recently I've seen him defending himself from critics who say he doesn't "plot" his novels, by saying that he's not one of those writers who is a slave to the "outline'. But he did create good plots in the past, even if he didn't stick to an Outline, because he thought them through before diving in. He knew where he was going. He says that THE DEAD ZONE was one of those novels where he knew where he was going right from the beginning through til the end. Is that a bad novel? No, it's pretty damn great. His modern, meandering, throw-up-the-hands-and-give-up novels are the bad ones, especially with inserted authorial philosophizing about how novels with real plots are a waste of time (I couldn't bring myself to read Colorado Kid for that reason... it sounded like another book self-justifying his lost ability to plan out stories and bring them to completion properly).
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#82
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Originally Posted by Fat Elvis
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For me, the short story collections were always hit & miss.

I'd say read the early novels from CARRIE to IT in order. That's where he made his mark.

Flow pretty well, and are pretty quick (until TALISMAN & IT)

MISERY is, in my humble, his last classic.

I agree with this. For me, Misery was the last great thing he wrote. After Misery think I stopped buying King books, just borrowing them, and often not finishing them.
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#83
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Originally Posted by Fat Elvis
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I think one of his gifts used to be dialogue; capturing the way people talked. Reading CELL, it was painful seeing him try to stay current, and fumble the rhythm & slang.

He should try setting his stories in a different period. His writing might work better with a 70's vibe.

That is so true! I remember reading the first few pages, and how obvious it was that he didn't own a cell phone himself (I've since read that he hates them and doesn't own one), but he was still trying to do the Brand-Name dropping thing that made his old stories seem so natural. But he had one character talking about, or thinking about his "Nokia". No one refers to their cheapo cell-phone by brand name. He's been doing that a lot, trying to imitate, self-consciously, his old instinctive style.
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#84
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Originally Posted by Cylon Baby
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Stephen KIng was actually the benficiary of an earlier wave of popular horror novels: Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, Tom Tryon's The Other and Harvest Home, and Blatty's Exorcist. (Note two of those novels were turned into blockbuster movies). King himself references these novels as making horror more acceptable to mainstream publishers, and thus enabling him to publish Carrie.

I discovered King via picking out Carrie in the school library and reading the damn thing through in one sitting. And I kept on reading everything he put out up until Pet Sematary. Those novels and short stories roped me in in a very intense way. I still re-read The Stand once a year, and it somehow always grabs me. Salem's Lot is great as a novel itself, and as a counterpoint to Brna Stoker's Dracula. Dracula has this underlying theme of rationality and science driving out superstion and "old world monsters", the light driving out the dark. In Salem's Lot we find normal middle Americans taping tongue depressors into crosses to fight the monsters: Rationality being driven out by superstition. And the short stories in Night Shift still have a real bite to them.

I haven't liked a lot of his recent output. I've heard that Duma Key is pretty good. The Dark Tower series lost me after The Wastelands . BUt for that run from the mid 70's to (I guess) the early 90's King just could not be matched for good, accessable writing.

I'd recommend two books by King on King: On Writing and Danse Macbre. The later has an index where King recommends 100 horror books and movies (it is out of date, since the book was published in 1980 )

I read Danse Macabre many times, getting caught up in the stream of consciousness, and absorbing the recommendations, but the last time I read it I became aware that a lot of the stream of consciousness didn't make much SENSE. I realized that I didn't know what King was trying to say about a lot of the things he was talking about. And I found, over the years, that a lot of the books and films he recommended were rather ... not that good. Certainly not as good as King was. I think he recommended a lot of books and movies from which he personally pulled bits and pieces to use in his books, but which were otherwise unworthy of anything but scavenging by a writer looking for good ideas to expand upon.
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#85
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Originally Posted by NoDiggity
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You know, I found King's advice in ON WRITING to be suspect too. I think he recommends that people write the way King writes NOW, not the way he used to write. In the past, I've read him talking about how he wrote, back when he was white hot, and he talks about planning out his novels. He said he didn't outline, but he would turn things over in his head for months BEFORE diving in. So he was planning, "outlining" in his head. Recently I've seen him defending himself from critics who say he doesn't "plot" his novels, by saying that he's not one of those writers who is a slave to the "outline'. But he did create good plots in the past, even if he didn't stick to an Outline, because he thought them through before diving in. He knew where he was going. He says that THE DEAD ZONE was one of those novels where he knew where he was going right from the beginning through til the end. Is that a bad novel? No, it's pretty damn great. His modern, meandering, throw-up-the-hands-and-give-up novels are the bad ones, especially with inserted authorial philosophizing about how novels with real plots are a waste of time (I couldn't bring myself to read Colorado Kid for that reason... it sounded like another book self-justifying his lost ability to plan out stories and bring them to completion properly).

Well obviously he's gonna recommend his style and method. If he didn't, he'd be a hypocrite. No?


"Did Cledus call you a legend?!"  "Uh-huh."

"The engines have stopped now. We all know we are going down. Last call for alcohol

Sure wish I could have another round"
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#86
NoDiggity, I am a little surprised by your feelings with THE TOMMYKNOCKERS. It's heavily padded (A Stephen King specialty, I believe) and somewhat strange in parts. But on the whole, I more or less enjoyed the story.

You spoke on King's drug use. Thinking back, was it the TOMMYKNOCKERS Chapter where Poet Gardner goes completely apeshit on a pompus critic ranting on Nuclear power, that made you think of this?

I used to be a King fan. Liked most of his older works (Up to Needful Things). Gave up after Insomnia though. His writing these days seems to be very lacking. The points you spoke above may be the reason why.
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#87
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Originally Posted by Greg David
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In order to relive the glory days of my King mania, I dug out my copy of Salem's Lot last year, and prepared to be re-dazzled. It resolutely refused to happen. It felt like extraordinarily long-winded fan fiction, complete with a "Mary Sue". Ben Mears comes across as an idealized version of the author far too often. And then there's the chapter that gives us the incredibly dull history of the town.

You know, I can understand this. SALEMS LOT is just kinda "there". Despite being a big vampire nut, it probably would not have kickstarted my King-fandom had I read it 1st (IT and TALISMAN did that). There's really no complexity. Most of the events take place in the way and order you'd almost expect. The themes don't feel pervasive enough. Despite a few choice scenes (the morgue, any of the vampire attacks), it lacks the atmosphere and urgency present in Stoker's novel (which was a big inspiration for King to write this).

I always thought the bland David "Hutch" Soul as Ben Mears played the character without much personality, but (other than the traumatic childhood event) the book's version doesn't flesh him out any more than the miniseries does. His really an audience avatar (or unsurprisingly, writer as hero archetype), but I found him too "empty-huskish". Rob Lowe's take came across as more haunted and believable (someone actually capable of being creative), but... In my mind, James Cromwell IS Father Callahan, so the 2004 version had that (and a more accurate adaptation, due to being an hour longer) going for it. Fred Willard should have revisited his role as Larry Crockett though.
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#88
I forgot about that Rob Lowe Salem's Lot. It was kinda bad. And they ruined Father Callahan, despite the great casting.

I just remembered, the last place I saw NoDiggity was dropping a hate bomb on a Harry Potter thread. Dude, you DO NOT LIKE popular fiction! Nothing wrong with that, there's certainly lots to hate, but you really ought to avoid it, as it seems to infuriate you. Seriously though, Dreamcatcher?
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#89
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Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd
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I forgot about that Rob Lowe Salem's Lot. It was kinda bad. And they ruined Father Callahan, despite the great casting.

Other than the "betrayal to the Stephen King universe" ending, I liked his take. Certainly better than the barely-there version in the 70s mini-series.
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#90
The SALEM'S LOT update was a slap in the face. When Rob Lowe's the best thing going, you got problems. Give me Hooper's version.

Am I the only one who liked CHRISTINE (the novel)?


"Did Cledus call you a legend?!"  "Uh-huh."

"The engines have stopped now. We all know we are going down. Last call for alcohol

Sure wish I could have another round"
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#91
Once you get over Christine being a book about a haunted car, which is, you know, kinda stupid, it's perfectly enjoyable.

Callahan is only an interesting character in the version that includes the Dark Tower. Although the scene with the cross failing is way better in the remake, I will admit.

I'm of the opinion that King has been hit and miss his entire career. The early stuff is something we're all obviously seeing through rose-tinted glasses, because we were younger and King was the first step into adult books we all took. Compared to the Fear Street series, Salem's Lot is a staggering achievement. The Stand and The Shining are of course great, but Firestarter, for ejemplo, isn't. Every decade he's had stronger books and weaker ones. I think the stuff he's doing now, like Cell and Lisey's Story, is better than the whole Gerald's Game/Rose Madder/Dolores Claiborne period in the 90s.

As to the love interest in Bag of Bones, yes, her death is conveniant and an obvious escape hatch for King. Much of the soap opera in that book is overwrought. But the scares in it absolutely work, and the silly plot is totally propulsive and immersive. I really like that one.
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#92
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Originally Posted by felix natalya
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NoDiggity, I am a little surprised by your feelings with THE TOMMYKNOCKERS. It's heavily padded (A Stephen King specialty, I believe) and somewhat strange in parts. But on the whole, I more or less enjoyed the story.

When I went back to reread it fairly recently, I was surprised that I had read most of it. I had remembered getting very tired of it, and not quite finishing. Apparently I had managed to get through most of it though. I might have just not cared to see what happened with Gard and Bobbie, the couple who found the spaceship first, and left off the last chapter or something. I think the point where I actually stopped caring about the book, when I first read it, was the appearance of the flying Coke machine. I had just become invested in the character (a news reporter, I think, who had just been introduced, and was experiencing the events from a normal, creeped out point of view) who met the Coke machine, and that was the end of him, apparently, and I realized there was no prominent character I really cared about anymore.

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Originally Posted by felix natalya
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You spoke on King's drug use. Thinking back, was it the TOMMYKNOCKERS Chapter where Poet Gardner goes completely apeshit on a pompus critic ranting on Nuclear power, that made you think of this?

I don't even remember Gard's rant about nuclear power, but that kind of rambling obsession would be Coke-ish, yes. What struck me about Tommyknockers was the repetetive descriptions of Townspeople getting nosebleeds (as that was a feature of his own self-described cocaine use). But I think none of have seen the real cocaine-influenced version of TOMMYKNOCKERS. In the intro to the paperback, he says that, thanks to his editors, the novel wasn't so much written, as "gutted out". It must have been a bloated massive collection of rambling rants. Rereading parts of IT, I really felt the porno kiddie gang-bang in the sewers bit seemed awfully cocaine-like in it's obsessive nature. I also was struck by one thing in his introduction, where he comments on his nutty housekeeper, who keeps asking him if he is feeling well, which seems now, knowing his cocaine use, to be a defensive smearing of a person who was noticing the real ravages of his cocaine and beer binging. (The housekeeper wasn't the only one who noticed, he says his wife did an intervention on him where she turned over his wastebasket in front of family and friends to reveal all his cocaine spoons, bloody tissues, Robitussen bottles (for the codeine) and beer cans. )

I do remember when I read THE WASTELANDS how much it seemed, by a certain point to feel like the story was on speed (as soon as the kid gets kidnapped by that pirate, and starts RUNNING and forcing the kid to run, I felt like it was conveying the sense of being over-clocked on a stimulant, to the point of being dangerously out of control, as they run past protruding sharp objects and so-on.)

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Originally Posted by felix natalya
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I used to be a King fan. Liked most of his older works (Up to Needful Things). Gave up after Insomnia though. His writing these days seems to be very lacking. The points you spoke above may be the reason why.

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#93
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Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd
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Once you get over Christine being a book about a haunted car, which is, you know, kinda stupid, it's perfectly enjoyable.

Well, it wasn't about it being a haunted car. I was continually thrown by the weird choice King made to have it a first-person-narrative, when the story he wanted to tell kept needing his normal God point of view. I think he even dropped the first person completely for a bit, and had to used dreams of events that the narrator couldn't know about directly to get past that in other places. And even in first person, the narrator would ramble and digress in a way that would have worked from a third person point of view, but made not much sense in narrator-style storytelling. But I never re-read Christine, so the details are all fuzzy now.

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Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd
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I'm of the opinion that King has been hit and miss his entire career. The early stuff is something we're all obviously seeing through rose-tinted glasses, because we were younger and King was the first step into adult books we all took. Compared to the Fear Street series, Salem's Lot is a staggering achievement. The Stand and The Shining are of course great, but Firestarter, for ejemplo, isn't. Every decade he's had stronger books and weaker ones. I think the stuff he's doing now, like Cell and Lisey's Story, is better than the whole Gerald's Game/Rose Madder/Dolores Claiborne period in the 90s.

I forgot about Rose Madder, Gerald's Game, Dolores Claiborne. I do remember how annoying it was that Gerald's Game, which actually turned out to be quite spooky, added this pointless "after the story" material in the "Letter to Ruth", that made me feel he was just padding to fill out publication requirements. Rose Madder was one where I felt that the only person with a personality was the progressively goofier villain.

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Originally Posted by Arjen Rudd
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As to the love interest in Bag of Bones, yes, her death is convenient and an obvious escape hatch for King. Much of the soap opera in that book is overwrought. But the scares in it absolutely work, and the silly plot is totally propulsive and immersive. I really like that one.

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#94
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Originally Posted by Fat Elvis
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The SALEM'S LOT update was a slap in the face. When Rob Lowe's the best thing going, you got problems. Give me Hooper's version.

Am I the only one who liked CHRISTINE (the novel)?

The Shining update was pretty miserable too. After all the years of King bitching about how Kubrick didn't understand horror, King makes that remarkably un-scary adaption himself.
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#95
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Originally Posted by DaveB
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His taste kind of sucks, too. Not because all of the music he likes is terrible (yeah, he likes Slobberbone, he likes Drive-By Truckers, he likes Steve Earle, etc.), but because the reasoning he gives behind what he likes is kind of stupid and often leads to him hyping the great, the mediocre, and the downright awful in relatively equal amounts.

It's like a movie critic claiming that his top five movies are Lawrence of Arabia, Twins, Blue Velvet, Wild Hogs, and Driving Miss Daisy, then trying to convince you by force of conviction that they're all really, really good rather than by explaining why. That's fine for a bullshit session with your friends. We should hold professional, published writers to higher standards.

I remember him recommending Terminator 3 in one of his Entertainment Weekly articles, but I didn't get a clear sense why. Knowing his obsessions in latrer works, I suspect that the Terminator being a hot young blonde was a factor, and (from what I've heard) her being a killer Bitch was also a factor. If that's what did it for him, young hot blondeness and indulging his misogyny, he's going to have trouble saying directly why he liked it. (I haven't seen it yet, by all accounts it's not much good).

He's a fan of Britney Spears (the personality and cutie). I'm kinda with him on that.

I remember looking up some of his recommendations in music from his EW articles, and sampling them in the record store. I just am NOT on the same page with him about the hillbilly drunk guys in the Pinewoods.
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#96
Ah cool, am I the first person to mention 'L.T's theory of Pets'? I've always loved that story.

In fact there's a few good ones in 'Everythings Eventual' including 'Lunchtime at the Gotham Cafe' (Which could've done with being longer) and 1408.
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#97
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Originally Posted by Fat Elvis
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The SALEM'S LOT update was a slap in the face. When Rob Lowe's the best thing going, you got problems. Give me Hooper's version.

Am I the only one who liked CHRISTINE (the novel)?

I love Christine. It's probably the most Tales From The Crypt-ish book he's written, but I think it's a hoot. Kind of shallow, but much fun nonetheless.
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#98
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Originally Posted by NoDiggity
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I remember him recommending Terminator 3 in one of his Entertainment Weekly articles, but I didn't get a clear sense why. Knowing his obsessions in latrer works, I suspect that the Terminator being a hot young blonde was a factor, and (from what I've heard) her being a killer Bitch was also a factor. If that's what did it for him, young hot blondeness and indulging his misogyny, he's going to have trouble saying directly why he liked it. (I haven't seen it yet, by all accounts it's not much good).

Dude, killer robots, the apocalypse, downer ending, it's directly in his wheelhouse. It's also a lot better than you'd expect, or that it really has a right to be.

Given that my only impresssions of you are rambling diatribes against popular fiction, part of me wants to know what kind of books you actually like. But another part of me thinks that whatever it is, it will be entirely different in a year (not meant as a dig, really).
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#99
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Originally Posted by NoDiggity
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I read Danse Macabre many times, getting caught up in the stream of consciousness, and absorbing the recommendations, but the last time I read it I became aware that a lot of the stream of consciousness didn't make much SENSE. I realized that I didn't know what King was trying to say about a lot of the things he was talking about. And I found, over the years, that a lot of the books and films he recommended were rather ... not that good. Certainly not as good as King was. I think he recommended a lot of books and movies from which he personally pulled bits and pieces to use in his books, but which were otherwise unworthy of anything but scavenging by a writer looking for good ideas to expand upon.

I had a similar experience. I was a fan of the book for a time, and recommended it to several horror fans. Over time, I realized that I had fundamental disagreements with a lot of what he had to say in it. In particular, his contention that horror is a guardian of the status quo, in that the horror element is always an outside influence that's eventually conquered, allowing everything to return to normal. I think that's a pretty limiting view of the genre.

In his defense, I think that his views on that changed when he discovered Clive Barker. I'm sure we all remember how gaga he went over the Books of Blood (and who can blame him?). His novels, especially the Bachman books, took a decidedly more nasty, nihilistic tone after Barker. The downer ending made a comeback in his work, and you got more of a sense that these people would never be the same again. Everything was not going to be alright anymore. It was like the kick in the pants he'd been needing.

Unfortunately, it didn't last.

The strange thing about King's preferences in horror is that he seems to feel that horror novels are serious business, while horror movies should be cheesy, fun and goofy.
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Originally Posted by Greg David
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The strange thing about King's preferences in horror is that he seems to feel that horror novels are serious business, while horror movies should be cheesy, fun and goofy.

I too fail to comprehend this dichotomy. Nowadays, if I see he had anything to do with a film, I have a "Sleepwalkers" flashback and suddenly get very leery indeed. The best thing anyone involved w/ a film adaptation of one of his books can do for all our sakes is keep him the hell away from it. Or is it hire Frank Darabont to direct? I'm not sure which one comes in first place.
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He at least seems to let Frank Darabont do his thang. Though the loyalty & devotion to Mick Garris is puzzling & perhaps detrimental to his reputation and even legacy.


"Did Cledus call you a legend?!"  "Uh-huh."

"The engines have stopped now. We all know we are going down. Last call for alcohol

Sure wish I could have another round"
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I suspect that it has a lot to do with the fact that Mick Garris is a lap dog who does everything the way King thinks it should be done.
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Originally Posted by IggytheBorg
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I too fail to comprehend this dichotomy. Nowadays, if I see he had anything to do with a film, I have a "Sleepwalkers" flashback and suddenly get very leery indeed. The best thing anyone involved w/ a film adaptation of one of his books can do for all our sakes is keep him the hell away from it. Or is it hire Frank Darabont to direct? I'm not sure which one comes in first place.

One of the biggest problems with the film of PET SEMATARY is King's script.

Jeff Boam (?) who wrote the script for Cronenberg's THE DEAD ZONE, says that when Cronenberg brought him on board, King had already written a script, but Cronenberg didn't like it. Boam's description of King's script was "He had turned the story into a Friday the 13th-like thriller, with teenagers in peril".
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Originally Posted by Greg David
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I had a similar experience. I was a fan of the book for a time, and recommended it to several horror fans. Over time, I realized that I had fundamental disagreements with a lot of what he had to say in it. In particular, his contention that horror is a guardian of the status quo, in that the horror element is always an outside influence that's eventually conquered, allowing everything to return to normal. I think that's a pretty limiting view of the genre.

In his defense, I think that his views on that changed when he discovered Clive Barker. I'm sure we all remember how gaga he went over the Books of Blood (and who can blame him?). His novels, especially the Bachman books, took a decidedly more nasty, nihilistic tone after Barker. The downer ending made a comeback in his work, and you got more of a sense that these people would never be the same again. Everything was not going to be alright anymore. It was like the kick in the pants he'd been needing.

Unfortunately, it didn't last.

The strange thing about King's preferences in horror is that he seems to feel that horror novels are serious business, while horror movies should be cheesy, fun and goofy.

The thing about the Bachman books is that they were what the protagonist in BAG OF BONES calls "trunked novels". He'd written them early in his career and they had never sold. I guess Clive Barker gave him the courage to bring them out and sell them.
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Ah, I did not know that.

I don't know if anybody's familiar with the nitty gritty of the situation, but did the publisher know who they were really dealing with? I would assume they did.
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