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|All Hail the King|
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, May 7, 2013 Share
I know I have bashed the writing of Stephen King in past columns and that is mainly because he is overhyped as the Greatest Horror Writer ever, which I don’t agree with. He does sell millions of books and repeatedly makes in on the New York Times Bestsellers list so he is doing something right.
In the beginning there was a poor struggling recent college grad with an English degree trying to raise a family with aspirations to becoming a real writer, while living in a trailer park in Maine. Now Stephen King is an industry that is the awe of up and coming writers and a force to be reckon with among established writers and critics who love to tear him apart. Do they realize he won the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation? Have any of these snobby critics ever won anything?
Stephen King is an industry, a media explosion that shows little chance of ending anytime soon. With Under the Dome coming out this June on TV and numerous movies and books coming out throughout the year, I decided to pick my five best Stephen King books.
It is a fantastic novel about seven adults who reconvene with each other based on a promise. I have always loved American 50’s pop culture from the birth of Rock ‘n Roll to Sci Fi Big Bug movies to drive-ins, and wonderfully greasy diners where you can get a Vanilla coke or a Strawberry shake with your double cheeseburger.
When two brothers, George and Bill, are sitting inside the house on a boring rainy day, Bill makes a paper boat for his brother. Georgie happily ventures outside and meets a gruesome death at the hands of a sadistic clown called Pennywise. So begins the nightmarish evil that haunts Derry.
King does a great job building his characters and putting them through the horror ringer. They are all affected by strange visions of terror and it is only by sticking together that they can survive at all.
I have always loved monster movies and It is a greatest hits collection of all your favorite monsters acting bad and scaring the neighbors.
The Summer of 1990 was a time I will never forget. I was a recent high school grad, wondering how to make my way into the world, when time seemed to stop. I received The Stand: Complete and Uncut for my birthday and from the first word on the first page I was hooked. Stephen King is one of the few writers that I can get hooked into instantly without having to keep reading to hope I can get hooked in later on. I spent 4-hours reading The Stand and all that time felt like one second.
Inspired by the novel, Earth Abides by George Stewart and based on a CBW spill in Utah that if the wind had be blowing the other way people would have died, The Stand tells of a super flu that kills off most of the world’s population. The survivors form into two groups with the elderly woman Mother Abigail representing all that is good and Randall Flagg all that is bad. People are drawn to each personality through inner desires to side with one over the other and some characters even switch sides.
After both sides are formed and Mother Abigail and her people begin to rebuild the US, an epic showdown is about to begin. A final fight between good and evil that is straight out of the Book of Revelation.
King weaves an epic tale of wondering through a post-apocalyptic America that is on a similar grand scale to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Give it a read and see if you are sucked into King’s vision.
Writer Ben Mears is traveling back to his hometown to write about the Marsten House, a place that still haunts his nightmares. He sets himself up in a boarding house as things in the little New England town of Jerusalem’s Lot go sour. Children are disappearing just as a newcomer, Richard Straker, is readying his antique store for opening. Ben Mears wants to buy or rent the Marsten House for his writing but soon learns that Straker’s business partner, the mysterious Mr. Barlow, has bought it. Soon terrible things will happen in town as the vampire infestation begins.
‘Salem’s Lot is Stephen King’s idea of what would happen if Count Dracula came to the U.S. and King’s love of the old EC horror comics. It is escapist horror that King himself has said in numerous interviews that he moved away from; even to the dismay of his loyal fans. He has other ideas and stories that he wants to explore. With all the Twilight novels currently flooding the market, it is a refreshing change to see what King did with vampires.
Ok so far I have covered classic King and now I feel the need to talk about a fairly recent work.
Edgar Freemantle is badly injured in a construction accident in St. Paul, MN. He loses his right arm and soon relocates to a small island near Sarasota, FL called Duma Key. This is where the novel really shines, King really brings to life what it is really like to be in Florida and he even mentions Tampa and the Hyde Park area. I was born in St. Petersburg and grew up in Tampa so I was glad to see how well he knew the area and was able to write about it.
Freemantle rents a beach house on Duma Key and rehabilitates himself by taking up painting. His paintings are good enough to be displayed at a local gallery but they also have a strange supernatural power that Edgar is able to causes changes to people, locations, and events. His painting led him on a journey to discover the horrible past associated with the beach house he is living in. So it is up to Edgar and his neighbors to right the wrongs of the past.
Duma Key is my favorite among King’s recent novels. I do admit that I enjoy his earlier novels better.
Now on to the only nonfiction book on my list and that is Danse Macabre, Stephen King’s love letter to the horror genre. This is like listening to a drunk friend talk about his favorite subject. King has an annoying habit of rambling on tangents; however there is still good stuff here. It is his enthusiasm and undying love for horror that becomes addicting and takes you by the hand. If you have ever been around children showing you their favorite toys with glee, you will get the same feeling by reading Danse Macabre. King talks about his favorite movies, TV shows, and most importantly books, he even shares insights on how all this collective body of work influenced him and put him on the map as America’s favorite writer.
I don’t agree with all of his choices and you probably won’t either but I will say that King can hold his own in any given fanboy arguments relating to horror. So treat yourself right and dive into a look at Horror entertainment that could only come from the mind of Stephen King.
That’s it for now. I will try to keep the horror columns coming. Just a second, I need to go outside and see what this weird clown is doing near my sidewalk…
"The Castle of Dr. Fetterstein" is ©2013 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2013 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.
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