4.7.08

Introduction

Welcome to a project I have been planning for quite some time: reading all of Stephen King's novels and short stories in order. Perhaps I should explain...

I have been a huge fan of King's books since I first borrowed a copy of Misery from a friend at school. I was around eleven or twelve years old (1988-89), and was already a confirmed reader - often to the exclusion of sleep or outdoor pursuits. I took the book home, and read it in bed by torchlight until 2 a.m. My mother noticed it on my bedside table in the morning, opened the book at random, and immediately told me I couldn't read it and should take it back to my friend (I should probably point out that this was the only time I was ever prohibited from reading anything by my parents, and that I subsequently learned that there was a general prohibition on King's books at school, which she had picked up on. A few years later, I was well on my way to collecting as many of his works as I could find, and my parents never once objected). I finished it during lunchbreaks over the next week, and never looked back.

Over the years, I tended to avoid the Dark Tower series - assuming them to be fantasy rather than horror - until I realised one day that I had read everything else he had written (at least until his next book came out). I bought the first three books in the series, and soon found that I was hopelessly engrossed. The wait for the fourth part almost drove me mad. And then I started noticing similarities with other books on my shelf: a recurring character here, a memorable turn of phrase there. I decided to put off completing the series until I had revisited those previous worlds and characters, so that I wouldn't miss a thing.

I am still a devoted reader (and still a King fan), but work and the easy distractions of television, films and the internet have encroached on my time more and more of late. But that is now going to change. After several years of promising myself that I would start my grand reading project, I have decided that now is the time. I hope you enjoy (or at least follow) the journey.

A few points to note:
  • I will be reading and reviewing all of King's books in (roughly) publication order, which can be found here. There are a few works on the list which are either out of print and/or were revised or collected elsewhere; hopefully, there will not be too many gaps. My personal collection is made up entirely of UK editions, for those who are interested.
  • I had originally planned to leave the Dark Tower series until the end of this endeavour, so as not to lose momentum once I got into it again. But as of March 2014, I've decided that it makes more sense to read them when they crop up in the running order - I think it's probably more useful to read each one in the context of the books around it. This may also provide some insight into the development of the series.
  • Please feel free to leave comments and opinions. Nothing too abusive, though. Also, please leave a name (and URL if you have one) rather than posting anonymously.
  • Finally, these reviews are likely to contain spoilers - I'm not sure that I can write thoroughly about these books without giving away a few plot points here and there. But I'll make sure to give you warnings when I'm getting into the meat of each book.
Thanks for reading.

First: Carrie.

10 comments:

Neil said...

Looking forward to it Dan! You might even convince me to change my opinion on King...

Dan said...

While that's not necessarily my intention, it would be a happy by-product! I'm still debating whether to attempt these all in a row (uninterrupted by other books) - or will that drive me crazy?

Clunge-in-chief said...

If you added some Amazon affiliate links to the book and adaptations in each post, you could earn $$$*.

[* may vary subject to status]

Anonymous said...

Kudos on the concept but I fear for your mental health. Is it safe to have such a sustained exposure to King? I think 'Skeleton Crew' was my introduction to his books. Also, will you please do a special for me on his frankly laughable 'erotic moments'?

Tom 'Bithy' B

Dan said...

Hey Tom, thanks for the comment and the mention on your blog. Skeleton Crew is an excellent collection, and one which I'm really looking forward to reading again. I found a tape version of several of those stories in a box the other day, featuring King himself and Matthew Broderick among others. Might do a special on that!

As for your suggestion, can you name some specific 'erotic' moments you'd like me to consider in detail?

Anonymous said...

From distant memory, I think there was a scene in 'The Tommyknockers' involving a man, a woman, a bath and a flannel/glove. I didn't need subjecting to that at the age of 12.

Dan said...

I'll bear that one in mind then! Should get to it in a month or two...

Anonymous said...

The bathtub scene you're thinking of is actually in "Pet Sematary." Comes at the end of Louis Creed's first day of work.

Dan said...

Thanks for the clarification. I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Jim The Hammer said...

I've kinda got a love/hate thing with SK... I love Young Starving Artist SK, the unpretentious writer who created works that seemed well-crafted and polished, with vivid and realistic characters, you could tell a lot of time was spent on getting it right, even if his inexperience showed through sometimes, I find this to be his best era.

I despise Pompous, Greedy, Self-Important SK of later years, the writer who started reeling of stories riddled with so many obvious promotional tie-ins to his other novels written in them it became not only tedious to read, but a source for ever-increasingly loud groans of exasperation. At first it was subtle and interesting, but as the greed and hubris grew, so did his shameless forays into this worn-out trope until eventually, as he ruined what could have been an excellent series of books in the Dark Tower series, he actually brings in himself as a major character into the story.

Early SK came up with brilliant, well-structures stories that will go down as classics.(Shining, Stand, Dead Zone, the first few Tower books...).

"I'm The Best Writer Ever" SK churned out progressively weak and lazy books with pathetic Deux Ex Machina endings. Needful Things is good example of this. Insomnia might have had one too, but I'll never know, since I couldn't force myself to get that far. That was the first book I ever failed to finish reading. It should have been called 'The Cure for Insomnia'.

When he destroyed his Dark Tower series with the last few quickly churned-out, greed-oriented installments, complete with one of the biggest cop-out endings I've ever been witness to, I knew that Stephen King the Writer was dead. But Stephen King the shameless cash-grabbing Hack was very much alive.

Long live the King.