Tag: Stephen King


Stephen King: A Primer

Posted 31 October, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors

Stephen Edwin King. Born in Portland, Maine on September 21, 1947. He and his wife Tabitha, own two residences in Maine and also owns property in Sarasota, Florida. May be considered by Floridians as a ‘snow bird’.

He is the undisputed master of horror, taking on the genre and breathing new life into it with his first novel Carrie in 1974. Less than a year later the veritable ‘Salem’s Lot was published. ‘Salem’s Lot is still hailed as a fantastic novel in the vampire sub-genre.

This Constant Reader first discovered Stephen King as a part of her father’s library with the novel Cujo. I was 11. I never looked back, my days with Nancy Drew and The Babysitter’s Club were over.

King has three distinct periods of his writing. His early career spans from Carrie in 1974 until The Dark Half in 1989. During the 1980’s King admittedly had a serious drug and alcohol problem until his friends and family staged an intervention, dumping evidence of his addiction in front of him. King agreed to seek help and has been sober since 1990. His early career is characterized by easily recognizable monsters such as Kurt Barlow in ‘Salem’s Lot, Pennywise in It, Randall Flagg in The Stand. Admittedly this is a vast oversimplification of King’s early works, but in general one can see the distinction.

The second period of King’s writing begins in 1990 with Needful Things, his first novel written in sobriety and ends with the vehicle accident that almost claimed his life in 1999. King’s ‘sobriety period’ is recognizable by a shift from outright ‘balls to the wall’ horror to something more subtle and closer to home. Rose Madder deals with domestic violence, though often overlooked by fans AND critics there were many individuals that came forward during a Reddit AMA that King did recently praising the strength and realness of the characters and stating that the novel was instrumental in helping abused readers realize they could get out of their situation. The Green Mile, which was originally published in serial format (more on writing gimmicks and innovations later on) deals with capital punishment and the reality that the American justice system sometimes executes innocent men and women. Most of King’s novels in this ‘sober period’ retain an element of supernatural and horror, but the monster is quieter and closer to home than most of us feel comfortable with.

In 1999, King was walking along the side of Route 5 in Lovell, Maine when he was struck from behind by a minivan. The driver was distracted by an unrestrained dog in the back and was not drunk or otherwise incapacitated. His injuries were severe, including a punctured lung, shattered hip and leg. King purchased the wreckage of the minivan to avoid parts of it from showing up on eBay. He also expressed a desire to smash up the van with a sledgehammer. It was crushed in a junkyard before he had the opportunity to do so.

By 2000 King was back to work on his memoir On Writing, despite being able to sit for periods of only about forty minutes without pain. On Writing is an invaluable source to burgeoning writers and Stephen King fangirls alike. From 2000 to present King’s work (for the most part) have become even more subdued. Though books like Cell hearken back to the gore and horror of his early works, there’s something different, more nuanced about it. Duma Key, Lisey’s Story, and Under the Dome, are all still steeped in the supernatural but also very character-centric.

For this Constant Reader, 11/22/63 (2011) was a return to King’s heyday. Combining time travel with specific rules and deep personal connections, King crafts a story of a man who goes back in time to stop the assassination of JFK. It sounds hokey, but in the hands of the master it’s a compelling, deeply moving tale. His most recent novel Doctor Sleep, the much anticipated sequel to The Shining is a brilliant blend of the old and new King warm, yet scary, and yes, I just took a 12 hour car trip. and eyed every single RV with suspicion.

Finally there is King’s magnum opus. The Dark Tower it spans all of his works and worlds. Beginning with The Gunslinger in 1982, Roland and his ka-tet, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake travel mid-land through eight books in search of the Tower. It’s a brilliant blend of fantasy, spaghetti westerns, horror, and a touch of science fiction. Space between the worlds are thin. It’s a long strange ride that’s so satisfying, after finishing the last novel The Dark Tower (2004) I immediately wanted to start again with The Gunslinger. Theses will be written on this work. I’ll spare you, for now.

Stephen King keeps himself relevant in kind of the same way that Cher and Madonna do – except that it seems he actually has it easier. But that’s what I like about Stephen King, he keeps re-inventing himself and his works and has delved into almost every ‘literary’ medium conceivable, even though he doesn’t have to. The Green Mile released as six serial novellas in 1996 are an example of the ways King is always trying to get to new readers. He’s always been interested in film and often cameos in the movie adaptations of his books. He collaborated with John Mellencamp for the musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County which is currently touring! He released one of the original Kindle Singles with a delightful little piece entitled ‘UR’ when the Kindle 2 was launched in 2009.  He had a small guest role on Sons of Anarchy last season.

The best thing about Stephen King? He seems like a pretty awesome person. He does a lot of grassroots charity things like giving to local libraries, using his fame and money to do good things within his own community. He chooses to use his voice in a constructive manner to promote literacy. His essay Guns is easily one of the most rational and poignant pieces of commentary we have about the U.S. gun debate. Also, he loves to write. The fact that he writes because its his passion is inspiring to me everyday. How are we so lucky to have Stephen King as a national treasure?

Tabitha. It’s a great love story. From her pulling the first pages of Carrie out of the trash and encouraging him to keep going, to her threatening to leave and take the kids if he didn’t sober up when he was a millionaire it seems like she’s always been there by his side. So, thank you Tabitha King. Now I must go and rectify a problem that I am ashamed has gone on too long. I must read a Tabitha King novel.

Trivia
Loves the Red Sox, but always takes a book to the games.
Was in a rock band with Amy Tan and other literary giants. The Rock Bottom Remainders
Everything about Richard Bachmann.

May I also suggest you take a look at the piece from the New York Times entitled King’s Family Business?

Happy Halloween, Reader!

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Where She is Moody

Posted 27 September, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes

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Time // 12:03 PM EDT

Feeling // Odd. This is often the word I use when I’m feeling a little depressed with no discernible reason – so maybe more accurately, I’m feeling a little depressed for no discernible reason.

Reading // My reading of words on paper or e-screens is still relatively stalled, but I’m making it through essay by essay on Accidental Saints, which is fabulous. I finished Falling Man on Audible, which was breathtaking (see review tomorrow), and I’m loving Franzen’s Freedom on CD, which I so generously received from Darlene at Lost in Literature. Also, before I go to bed I’m still working on ‘re-reading’ the last volume of King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower, also on Audible. So. Good.

Planning // On getting to Fates and Furies for an upcoming Socratic Salon discussion along with the thousand other books that I need to read.

The Move // Is pretty much completed… things are organized. Other than that, we need to paint the interior and a few walls knocked down and we’ll be set.

I’m going to stop this Sunday Salon before my mood gets too… moody. How’s your week, Readers?! 

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Automatic Authors: A Top Ten List

Posted 18 August, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, memes, writers

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It’s been a hot minute since I did a top ten list, y’all. Today we have authors who write books that I pick up without even reading the synopsis. So, in no particular order…

1. Stephen King. To quote my fellow Stephen King fangirl, Rory from Fourth Street Review briefly, “Obviously.”

2. Joe Hill. I mean, he’s a fantastic horror author in his own right and he’s Stephen King’s son. So, ‘obviously’ again.

3. Margaret Atwood. It doesn’t matter what genre or form this feminist Canadian powerhouse is writing in, I want that book.

4. John Irving. I’ve yet to find an author who does cradle to grave character studies as well and effectively as Irving. My love started with A Prayer for Owen Meany, but has since extended to many of his other novels as well.

5. J.K Rowling. Both Harry Potter related and adult novels. She kicks ass in both forms, I don’t care what anyone says about The Casual Vacancy. I own the Galbraith novels, I just haven’t had a chance to read them yet.

6. Anne Rice. With a caveat, only concerning her Vampire Chronicles books. All the Mayfair Witches, werewolves, and Christ just don’t do it for me. Lestat is where it’s at.

7. Roald Dahl. I know he’s dead, that doesn’t mean I don’t yearn for more of his writing.

8. Herman Koch. The deliciously twisty Dutch writer. I only know of two of his books (The Dinner and Summer House With Swimming Pool) that have been translated to English, but you can bet I’m on the lookout for more.

9. Gillian FlynnI will not be judged! Even if Gone Girl wasn’t your bag, she wrote two other delightfully dark novels that I thoroughly enjoyed. I want novel number four.

10. Nadia Bolz-Weber. Yes, I realize she’s Lutheran clergy. Yes. I realize I’m an atheist. But I love her work and I think that she’s doing some fabulous writing (and preaching) that the U.S. and the world desperately needs to hear. Faithful or not.

What about you, Reader? What are your top ten must buy authors?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: “I’m So Tired”

Posted 19 July, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

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Time // 10:45 AM EDT

Reading // Go Set a Watchman, it’s slow going – mostly because I’m so tired after commute and family time that I go straight to bed listening to audio books instead of reading, so it’s taking me way longer than it should to complete it. But maybe today?

Listening // Unsurprisingly, to a bunch of stuff! I finished up Vanity Fair, which was surprisingly enjoyable. I also finished listening to Wizard and Glass, which probably accounts for my fourth or fifth ‘reading’ of it. I’m on to Wolves of Calla, which will only be my second ‘reading’ of it. I’m looking forward to book seven, which I remember when finishing it I wanted to go start the entire series all over again.

Also, finally catching up with the cool kids and listening to ‘Serial’ from NPR on my commute. It’s interesting and thought provoking as a lawyer. I’m interested to see what comes of it. Maybe I’ll finally download some episodes of Literary Disco to see what all the buzz is about. Also, I could catch up on Annasaurus Rex’s podcast Type O-Maha.

Watching // Went to see Minions this weekend with hubs and The Girl. Fun.

Feeling // Tired. Naturally. I’ll leave you with a Beatles song to inspire you.

What about you, Reader? How was your week? 

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Sunday Salon: Where She’s an Exhausted Reader

Posted 12 July, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes, musings

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Time // 8:27 AM EDT

This Week // Started my new job. I think it’s going to be a great fit, outside of the commute. I love prosecuting – largely because it doesn’t require me to bill hours or bring in new clients. Oh, and the whole justice for all thing being in my hands is fulfilling as well.  Yesterday Mr. SFR and I went to look at houses closer to the job site, but since he works in the opposite direction the whole thing is going to be tricky. Especially with Atlanta traffic.

Office

My big girl, fancy pants office that I’m quite pleased with.

Now // I brought some case files home that I need to work on a bit to get ahead for next week. I don’t anticipate every weekend being this way, but since I inherited a ton of files – well, it’s catchup time.

Needing // Time and inclination to write and schedule a ton of reviews in advance! My poor comrades at The Socratic Salon are always waiting on my to make my menial contributions to our discussions. Obviously the blog is in the pits as well.

Reading // Okay… well listening… I’ve been making some serious headway into Vanity Fair during my commute and while that time period is definitely far from my favorite — I’m kind of loving it. It’s smart, sassy, and I don’t care what people say about Becky Sharpe, she’s one smart cookie. Amelia makes me want to barf. Before I go to sleep at night I’m listening to Wizard and Glass still. I get home and I’m just so tired that audio is really working well for me all the way around.

Though, I have read the first fifty pages of the new Matthew Quick novel, Love May Fail, and it’s pretty arresting too. Hopefully it won’t take me a decade to finish it.

Good week here, Reader! How was yours? 

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Six Degrees of Separation: The Casual Vacancy

Posted 15 June, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in memes

You’re expecting me to go from The Casual Vacancy to Harry Potter or maybe the Robert Galbraith books, but I’m not going to do that. I’m goin’ crazy, y’all.

F’real though. The use of heroin and methadone in The Casual Vacancy is a huge theme which makes me think of Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby, Jr. it’s such the perfect description of the slippery slope down into addiction. It’s also a book that I’m too scared to watch the movie because I’m afraid I will be so disturbed the images will never leave my head.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess is a book like that too. I had no issue getting through the book and the terrible descriptions of things happening, but I had to turn off the Kubrick movie halfway through because it was just too damn disturbing for me – which is saying a lot because I have a high tolerance for disturbing things.

If we’re talking about novels adapted to movies by Stanley Kubrick how could the next link not be The Shining by Stephen King. The movie is brilliant, the book is more brilliant. The Shining is a brilliant horror novel (incidentally, also about addiction), so where do we go from here?

How about a double connection and use Joe Hill’s brilliant novel Horns? Joe Hill is Steven King’s eldest son and Horns is a book about a man who wakes up as the devil (more or less). It’s a fascinating book that goes way beyond the horror genre into something examining what it means to be human.

I’ll move to Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock, (I don’t need to explain that connection, do I?) it’s an absolutely brilliant novel written in the Southern Gothic tradition that completely entranced me with its bizarre and compelling cast of characters.

Let’s end with something new and delightful. Also with a bizarre and compelling cast of characters is The Shore by Sara Taylor. It’s also written in a Southern Gothic tradition and is enchanting and wonderful and incredibly readable.

6 degrees casual vacancy

Do you want to play? I know you do! Here’s how:

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So that’s how you get from The Casual Vacancy to The Shore in six easy steps! Where do you go from The Casual Vacancy, Reader?

April

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Friday Flowchart: Get your Stephen King on!

Posted 19 December, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in writers

If you’ve been around for any length of time you know I have a fairly serious… um, obsession? with Stephen King. I thought that it was time to go ahead and share my wealth of knowledge with those that are uninitiated or less initiated. So in the spirit of Book Riot’s Margaret Atwood Reading Pathway, I decided to make you, dear Reader, a flowchart.

Note: There are two stories (novellas, really) that I recommend in Different Seasons for those not wanting the night terrors, they are ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘The Body’.

Edit: I noticed I don’t have fear ratings on Mr. Mercedes or Joyland… I think both of those are probably just a little spooky.

Enjoy!

Do you have favorite Stephen King books, Reader? I’ve left off a few of my favorites, but the chart was getting too complicated too quickly.

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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The Whirlwind Trip to D.C. – Stephen King, An Ode to

Posted 17 November, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in books and publishing, musings, writers

So, I went to Washington D.C. for three days with the express purpose of seeing Stephen King speak. I had the added pleasure of being able to meet up with Shannon at River City Reading for the event. I’m going to tell you of my trip in reverse order, because I know what the people really want (and that’s this post). 

The event was a reading that was a part of a six city tour to promote his new book Revival. Before we get started with the main event I need you to know a little bit of my personal background with Stephen King. If you’ve been hanging around for any period of time, you probably already know this about me. 

I picked up my first King book (Cujo) from my father’s stack of King novels when I was eleven. I remember being relegated to walking around the fences of the tennis courts during gym class because I had ‘accidentally’ forgotten my gym clothes (again). 

Growing up walking home from school with The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and of course the ubiquitous Baby Sitter’s Club, and Fear Street novels made me quite proficient at walking and reading. So walking that rectangular fence, expertly avoiding the cracks in the asphalt I found something in Cujo that even to this day I can’t quite describe. 

Before Cujo it never occurred to me that things like pubic hair could be spoken of outside a health textbook, that there could be such suspense, and as King often puts it himself ‘balls to the wall horror’ contained within a novel. That death and despair were possible and all you had to do was open the book to be completely transported somewhere terrifying. It should also be noted that in my opinion Cujo is not one of his better novels and weirdly, holds no special place in my heart.

For this reason alone I think that King and his writing are special to me and molded me as a reader, but something also struck me about him while watching a biography program. I couldn’t have been more than fourteen or so and what I remember best about the program is the idea that King conveyed that even if he wasn’t being paid a cent for his writing — he’d still be doing it, solely for the passion that he has for the craft. His love of reading and writing made a lasting impression on me and he is someone I very much admire for that passion. 

Okay, let’s get to the goods, you’re thinking. So! The (sold out) event was scheduled for 7 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium which has a capacity of 1,409. Shannon had to work that morning and I was just grateful she was willing to brave the D.C. traffic. So I killed the morning visiting The Supreme Court and The Library of Congress (details coming in future posts). After some slight snafu’s regarding meeting locations Shannon and I finally met up at the National Museum of American History where Shannon had just concluded saying hello to the First Ladies dresses.

Obligatory proof of life meeting picture.

So while employees of the Lisner Auditorium told me that people had been lining up since at least one p.m., Shannon and I chose to enjoy dinner and we made it to the venue at about 6:30, it turned out very nicely, while we weren’t overly close, that was probably for the best as that way Shannon was not forced to restrain me while I attempted to throw myself on the stage like a madwoman. 

I’m still rambling, aren’t I? Well, when the King made his way on to the stage Shannon did have to deal with a mild amount of squeeing and she may have handed me the smelling salts at some point but once the event got going it was everything I wanted it to be, and more. King was charming, funny, down to earth and… a terrible dresser. Pictures in a moment.

I was really impressed how he segued from the first line of a bad two line joke, (“Two jumper cables walk into a bar…”) into the craft of writing, his own writing process, and everything else in-between. I won’t go so far as to say he’s a formidable public speaker, but he’s definitely engaging. The audience was slightly insane and clapped every time he mentioned the title of one of his books (even Gerald’s Game, I mean seriously?) but he took it in stride and never came off as arrogant or irritating (or irritated, for that matter). I was also delighted to find out that he’s friends with John Irving (my top three authors, Stephen King, John Irving, Margaret Atwood). 

There wasn’t supposed to be photography allowed but the girl two seats down from me had a full on DSLR camera and if she had taken one more picture with a flash in the darkened auditorium, I was going to shank her. In hindsight, I should have given her my card and asked her to email me her photos. By the time Q&A came up and the floor lights came up I decided to damn the rules and eke out two fuzzy little shots. Here’s what I got for my effort and breaking of the rules. 


Oh, the end of the joke is: Two jumper cables walk into a bar and say, “Can we get a drink?” the bartender says, “Yeah, just don’t start anything.” <rimshot>.

Overall great time meeting and hanging out with Shannon at such a phenomenal event. Totally worth the price of tickets, especially considering we each got a hardback copy of Revival (though sadly, we were not among the lucky few who randomly got signed copies). 

So, Reader, do you have any authors that you’d travel 1200+ miles round trip over the course of three days to see? I flew, no worries. Though the pilot on my trip back to Atlanta might have been wearing heels during the landing.

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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Stephen King Saturday: Happy Birthday Carrie!

Posted 21 June, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Stephen King Saturday: Happy Birthday Carrie!Carrie by Stephen King
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group Genres: Fiction, Horror, Occult & Supernatural
Pages: 192
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Stephen King's legendary debut novel about a teenage outcast and the revenge she enacts on her classmates. Carrie White may have been unfashionable and unpopular, but she had a gift. Carrie could make things move by concentrating on them. A candle would fall. A door would lock. This was her power and her sin. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offered Carrie a chance to be normal and go to her senior prom. But another act--of ferocious cruelty--turned her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that her classmates would never forget.

Carrie turned forty this year, so I thought it was a good time to give her a re-read. 

She blew my socks off!

The problem with classic Stephen King movies is that they are always sad reflections of the books. No matter how wonderful Sissy Spacek’s Carrie was or how amazing Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance was – they still don’t hold a candle to the original source material for these characters. Unfortunately it’s easier to experience a two hour movie than it is to sit down and read the original – so the movie is inevitably what gets stuck in our head.

This book is about way more than cruel teenage girls throwing tampons, though interestingly enough, this incident is the catalyst to the entire rest of the novel and it happens almost as soon as you open the book. 

Carrie, like a few different early-era King novels, focuses on the feeling of being a misfit as an adolescent. But Carrie doesn’t just have her general weirdness working against her, she has possibly the worst mother in contemporary literature. All of that leads her to the spark of her unknown tele-kinetic power. 

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It actually has withstood time very very well. The most dated thing about it is teenage Sue’s pondering how her future husband will eventually move up in the world when he moves to a ‘five-figure’ earning bracket. 

All the themes in this book felt current and stylistically it is pretty modern. It’s written through the eyes of a few different characters, but also includes excerpts from fake academic papers on ‘The Carrie White Incident’ and newspaper clippings. I’d say it’s definitely gotten better with time. Worth the read.

I haven’t seen the new Carrie movie, should I? What book have you come back to and been surprised how much you still liked it, Reader?

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April @ The Steadfast Reader

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King’s March: ‘Stephen King Films FAQ’

Posted 25 March, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

When I saw that Rory at Fourth Street Review and Wendy at Wensend were doing a month of Stephen King, I knew that I had to get in on the action. I just couldn’t figure out exactly how I wanted to do it.

If you’ve been around for any length of time you know that Stephen King is one of my two all time favorite authors. I read a lot of Stephen King, but I think the last thing that I read by him was Doctor Sleep when it came out. I haven’t really been in the mood to pick up a novel by him so I just kind of sat on the idea.

When I saw Stephen King Films FAQ by Scott bon Doviak on NetGalley I knew that I had a contender. Wow, we gotta talk about this book.

Source: Publisher: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: (Goodreads)
Over the past four decades, the Stephen King movie has become a genre unto itself. The prolific writer’s works have spawned well over 100 adaptations for both the big and small screen, ranging from modern classics of horror (Carrie, The Shining) to Oscar-nominated fare (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) to unapologetic, B-movie schlock (the King-directed Maximum Overdrive). The filmmakers to put their stamp on King’s material include acclaimed auteurs Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and Brian De Palma; masters of horror Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and George Romero; and popular mainstream directors Rob Reiner, Frank Darabont, and Lawrence Kasdan.

Author Scott Von Doviak provides background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films and television productions, including “Bloodlines” sections on related works and “Deep Cuts” sections collecting additional odd facts and ephemera. All you ever wanted to know about the king of horror onscreen can be found here.

When I picked up this book I expected a glossy coffee-table book that would be a lot of pretty (or gruesome) pictures and a few fun facts. Wrong. Let me re-emphasize: This is not a coffee table book. While this book is billed to be about the Stephen King genre of horror – it starts out as a history of horror films themselves. The first few chapters chronicle the earliest silent horror films through Universal Studios ‘creature features’ which we know inspired the young King. It’s an extraordinary look into the history of cinema. I really enjoyed these chapters despite them not being strictly about Stephen King films.

Once Von Doviak delves into the King ‘genre’, there’s really no turning back. This book is four hundred pages and it is dense. There are photographs and pictures, but not as liberally as expected. He tries to keep the films in chronological order within sub-categories. So all of the theatrical releases take up a chapter, followed by made for TV movies, right into the mini-series. The scope of Stephen King filmmaking is breathtaking, he’s been nearly as prolific in movies has he has been as an author, and that’s really saying something.

Von Doviak brings up King movies that I didn’t even know existed. If nothing else this volume is thorough. I found it to be an extremely enjoyable read – but then I’m a hard-core Stephen King fan. (Still, how did I not know that Rob Reiner directed Misery?) Each movie is summarized (with no regard for spoilers), analyzed, and then the reader is given some history behind the making of the film. 

The author also covers Stephen King in other media, including comic books, musicals, and yet-to-be-produced films and TV projects. 

On a personal note, I have always enjoyed the ABC mini-series of The Stand (please please please if this is made into a movie, let it be a trilogy) – this book was able to articulate what exactly was unsatisfying about it. I always felt something was a little ‘off’ with the mini-series and Van Doviak posits that it’s the actor cast as Randall Flagg. YES. NOW I KNOW. 

I’d recommend this book to serious Stephen King fans and serious horror movie buffs.

What’s your favorite Stephen King movie/production, Reader?

 

April @ The Steadfast Reader

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