Summer With Stephen King

My wife knows that the coming heat only means one thing: I am about to rev my Stephen King obsession into high gear. Now during the Fall, Winter, Spring I could almost care less. I am focused on work and enjoy reading all kinds of other writers (Ken Follett and Charles Dickens are good reads for me).
Each Summer I focus on another aspect of collecting Stephen King. The first Summer I began buying first editions. This took a couple years! I still don’t have true firsts for anything before The Dead Zone, and only a second edition Dark Tower 1. But – I do have hardback copies of all the novels. Then I spent a summer collecting books about Stephen King. This was more massive than I thought it would be! (Seems like one Summer all I did was have a book case built and organize the collection). Then this Summer I began buying movies. But, I’m slacking off on that because I’m more interested in reading Cell, Christine and The Road to the Dark Tower.
So why do I focus on King in the Summer? Because one hot summer as a teen I began reading The Stand. I spent blazing hot days under a fan as I turned page after page. It was truly the first book I read cover to cover. I thought one night as I read, "wow! I’ve read 100 pages today!" A true accomplishment, since my parents thought I was probably illiterate.
Ever since that long summer (1990, I think) I have found myself going back to Stephen King as the heat turns up. My wife thinks it’s really funny. "You read Charles Dickens and the Bible all year, and then Stephen King all summer. Go figure." Oh well. She doesn’t have to understand – just let me buy books. (First editions, please)
I got my daughter started reading Eyes of the Dragon, but she doesn’t seem too hooked yet. I wish it were on audio.

Interesting Post From Marko Saric

I enjoyed this post from Marko Saric of how to make my

13 blogging lessons learned from Stephen King's On Writing

Bev Vincent: A New Stephen King Companion

I'm editing this post for clarity!
Bev Vincent's website is announcing that he willbe releasing a new Stephen King Companion this fall, published by Barnes and Noble.
I enjoyed both previous companions by George Beahm. It is interesting that in the second edition Beahm didn't write the reviews of the books himself. I remember reading the original and being surprised that he simply stated he had not read the Talisman. How did that get through a publisher?
Anyway fall is looking good! Liljah's Library has a book out, a new Stephen King Companion -- and Under The Dome by the master himself! Sigh, if only fall would come.

Religion And Stephen King

Religion And Stephen King
Stephen King isn’t a "Christian" writer. However, Christian themes often appear in his books. People often assume that the genre of horror doesn’t lend itself to religious themes – nothing could be further from the truth! Christianity certainly has "dark" spots.
Some complain that King often casts religious people in a bad light. Sorry to say, that’s a lot like complaining about Flandars on the Simpsons, media simply mimic’s what they see. The reason religious characters sometimes fall in a bad light (Carrie White’s mom comes to mind) is because there are religious people who fall into that mold. I certainly take no personal offense. (Insomnia’s portrayal of the prolife movement was a hard pill to swallow). In fact, often religious wackos are well pictured in King’s work. Just read an interesting scene in Cell where a woman is full of religious zeal.
In particular, characters like: Reverend Rose in Needful Things strike a chord with us because we’ve met people like that. But we’ve also met good people of faith – and king shows us that side, too. David in Desperation is a boy with great faith in God, surrounded by skeptics.
What I especially like is that characters have the ability to be redeemed. Father Calahan in Salem’s Lot comes to mind. He didn’t have such a good ending in the book, but he is redeemed in the Dark Tower.
Books with religious overtones:
The Stand in particular is a book about religion. In his introduction to the novel, King called The Stand a "long tale of dark Christianity." There is the Godly Mother Abigail pitted against the devil himself. And let’s not forget the finger of God reaching down from heaven to blow up the bad guys. Very much like Revelation 20-21!
Cell has a lot of religious overtones. Not just the Bible crazy lady, but talk about America having built a "tower of Babel" that was torn down by the yet unknown enemy.
David King told Steve Spignesi in The Shape Under The Sheet (1991) "I know he’s not an atheist or an agnostic, but I don’t think he attends church. I believe that when he and Tabby married he agreed to have the children brought up in the Catholic faith, because Tabby is Catholic." According to David, their mother was religious and regularly attended church. Speaking for himself, David King says, "Linda and I are now what’s known as evangelical Christians. We’re Biblical fundamentalists, which sometimes connotes a negative impression in people’s minds. We are of the group that believes that the Bible is the total and factual and complete word of God." (P.37)
It is interesting that a character with great faith is named David in Desperation – I wonder if that’s after his brother David.
King articulated his religious views in an interview with Salon magazine, King told novelist John Marks, "I was raised Christian, and I was raised to believe in the idea of the Antichrist. My wife said that -- she was raised a Catholic -- the attitude of the Catholic Church is, give them to me when they're young, and they'll be mine forever. It isn't really true. A lot of us grow up and we grow out of the literal interpretation that we get when we're children, but we bear the scars all our life. Whether they're scars of beauty or scars of ugliness, it's pretty much in the eye of the beholder.
"I'm interested in the concepts. I'm particularly interested in the idea that in the New Testament, you're suggesting a moral code that's actually enlightened. Basically what Christ preached: get along with your neighbor and give everything away and follow me. So we're talking pretty much about communism or socialism, all the things that the good Christian Republicans in the House of Representatives today are railing about in light of this bailout bill. Of course, Christ never preached give away everything to Wall Street, so they might have a point.
"I was able to use all those things in "The Stand." It's an effort to say, let's give God his due here. Too often, in novels that are speculative, God is a kind of kryptonite, and that's about all that it is, and it goes back to Dracula, where someone dumps a crucifix in Count Dracula's face, and he pulls away and runs back into his house. That's not religion. That's some kind of juju, like a talisman. I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to explore what that means to be able to rise above adversity by faith, because it's something most of us do every day. We may not call it Christianity. I wanted to do that. I wanted it to be a God trip"
As a Believer, I must mention that I personally think King’s view of the afterlife is insufficient and dangerous. Basically, he states that he believes what ever you "believe" that’s what happens to you when you die. Of course, he does preface this by saying he doesn’t know what happens!
Does Belief In God Make King More Frightening?
Stanley Kubrick told Jack Nicholson that The Shining is a basically "optimistic" story. When asked how that can be, Kubrik said that any story that has ghosts believes in an afterlife of some kind – and that’s optimistic!
King said that Kubrick once called King in the middle of the night while they were filming The Shining. "Do you believe in God?" Kubrick asked. Yes, King said he did believe in God. King associated Kubrick’s strange take (and film version) of the Shining to Kubrick’s inability to believe in God. If there is no God, then the Overlook isn’t haunted, it’s all about Jack Torrance going crazy. And that is what Kubrick’s version of the Shining does, it shoes Torrance and his family breaking down.
King’s ability to at least understand Christian themes allows him to employ such things as crucifixion in The Stand.
The central theme of Christianity is Resurrection. This is played out in a dark way in Pet Sematery, where an old burial ground allows the dead to rise again – but they’re not quite right afterward. King wrote the novel for his own enjoyment, and it remains one of his scariest books to date! It is disturbing and wonderful.
King said in an interview: "I don't see myself as God's stenographer. As someone who believes in God, believes that God is a logical out growth of the fact that life fits together as well as it does, but that doesn't mean that we know God's mind... There's been a lot of criticism of the book where they say the God stuff really turns them off. I'm thinking to myself that these guys have no problems with vampires, demons, golems, werewolves and you name it. If you try to bring in a God who can take sardines and crackers and turn it into loaves and fishes, then these people have a problem. I say to myself, if you have a real problem then I'm doing what a novel of suspense and horror is supposed to do, which is to just scratch below the surface and sought of rub your nerves the wrong way."
The Redemptive Side
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon also has religious themes, with God speaking through Tom Gordon!
The Green Mile gives a blatant picture of Christ bearing our suffering through John Coffee. (Get it, John Coffee – J.C. – Jesus Christ. That’s not the first time King has used a characters name to express a redemptive purpose for them. An obvious one is Gardner –Gard– in Tommyknockers.). King directly ties Coffee’s sacrifice to the death of Jesus.
In the Green Mile, King writes: "Only God could forgive sins, could and did, washing them away in the agonal blood of His crucified Son, but that did not change the responsibility of His children to atone for those sins (and even their simple errors of judgment) whenever possible. Atonement was powerful; it was the lock on the door you closed against the past."
Paul F. Zahl writes in Christianity today:
Finally, at the very end of The Green Mile (Part 6, "Coffey on the Mile") come the hero's ruminations on the providence of God: I think back to the sermons of my childhood, booming affirmations in the church of Praise Jesus, The Lord Is Mighty, and I recall how the preachers used to say that God's eye is on the sparrow, that He sees and marks even the least of His creations. Yet this same God sacrificed John Coffey, who tried only to do good in his blind way, as savagely as any Old Testament prophet ever sacrificed a defenseless lamb, as Abraham would have sacrificed his own son if actually called upon to do so. … If it happens, God lets it happen, and when we say "I don't understand," God replies, "I don't care." This is quite fantastic, an unflinching parallel with the ruminations of Luther in The Bondage of the Will. So there they are: substitutionary atonement, the cross of Golgotha, and the unanswerable sovereignty of God. Add to that the one-to-one transfer of guilt and death from John Coffey to the villainous guard Percy and the vilest prisoner on "the Mile," and I rest my case."
I think that the concept of evil is something that's in the human heart. The goodness in the human heart is probably more interesting, psychologically, but in terms of myth, the idea that there are forces of evil and forces of good outside, and because I was raised in a fairly strict religious home, not hard-shelled Baptist or anything like that, I tend to coalesce those concepts around God symbols and devil symbols, and I put them in my work.
Janet C. Beaulieu interviewed King in Novemeber of 1988.
JB: What kind of background did you come from if it wasn't "hard-shelled Baptist?"
SK: Hard-nosed Methodist.
JB: So you weren't into really evangelical, fundi kinds of things.
SK: No.
JB: But you clearly learned your Bible.
SK: Yeah, I clearly learned my Bible, and I took a lot of what it says to heart enough to be disgusted by the Jim and Tammy Baker's and the Rex Humbug's of the world, where it says 'when you pray go inside your closet and shut the door and do it by yourself, don't do it in front of everybody so that everybody will know how religious you are.' I'm really sort of impressed by something that C. S. Lewis said about The Rings trilogy, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, where he said, "as good as Tolkien was at depicting good, he was much more effective at depicting evil." I think that that's true, and I think that it's easier for all of us to grasp evil, because it's a simpler concept, and good is so many-faceted and it's so layered. I've always tried to contrast that bright, white light of real goodness or Godliness against evil. I'm not a proselytizer, and I hate organized religion. I think it's one of the roots of real evil that's in our world. If you really unmask Satan, you'll probably find that he's wearing a turnaround collar.
JB: What do you mean by organized religion? How do you define that?
SK: Well, when they start telling you when you're supposed to be on your knees and when you're supposed to be standing up and when you look at the front of the building and you see there's a list of the hymns you're going to sing, that's organized religion. And when they start to band you together and say, "these are the magazines you're not supposed to buy in the 7-Eleven," that's organized religion. And sooner or later, it always overspills into political issues. Jesus said, "Render those things under to Caesar that are Caesar's and render unto God the things that are God's," and - I don't know, that scripture keeps getting overlooked by these guys who want to do Moral Majority and all the rest of it. You can't operate in those terms. You've got the man in black in this book that looks like a priest, who does messianic things. He raises the dead. But to no good purpose. At least when Jesus rose from the dead he had the good grace to hang around for a while and then get the hell out. He didn't do a TV show or hang around like the weed-eater, Norton, in the book. He got offstage. It's an interesting thing. I heard somebody say once at some kind of New Testament conference that I was at a few years ago, that when Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead, he took everybody to the graveyard and said, "Lazarus, come forth!" If he'd just said "Come forth!" everybody in the graveyard would have gotten up and walked. Can you imagine that? How's that for a horror story?
I think that is close to the modern, "I love Jesus, but not the church" type of answer. of course, his answers on this subject are all over the board! But his fiction is generally the same: God is good, Christians might be, the church is the problem. (Remember, this isn't my personal belief!)

Short Story, Weeds & Morality

Lilja's Library gave this address for those who want to read King's short story: Weeds.

Also read the new short story Morality

Stephen King Geeks

Trash Robinson at the A.V. club has an interesting post on Stephen King geeks. The theme is interesting: Because King has built an entire subculture, it can be difficult for newbies to break in to reading King.

Their argument is that it is hard to understand King because his books are so large and intertwined with one another and the Dark Tower series. You kinda have to be a geek to understand it all. (I like King, but I certainly don't understand all of the bridges between books. But I enjoy reading those who do understand. Bev Vencent in particular.)

They suggest starting to read King by picking up a copy of his short stories, Skeleton Crew. While I agree that King can be hard to get into, you don't really have to make a "plan." I started with the Stand, and was hooked ever sense. A.V. says:

By any route, though, new King fans should eventually arrive at The Stand, King’s standalone classic (to the degree that any of his books stand alone, given the threads and references that connect them) about the post-apocalyptic battle between good and evil. If not for its length, The Stand might itself be the best place for new King readers to start: The first half is firmly set in a real world of small towns, pathogens, and a speculative consideration of exactly how American society would fall apart if a bioengineered super-virus wiped out 99 percent of the Earth’s population. The supernatural elements that eventually turn the book into a cosmic battleground are introduced gradually, and the real-world grounding never entirely lets go. The Stand is a vast, leisurely book full of memorable characters, and it lacks the propulsion of his smaller novels, but it builds a world big enough to get lost in.

Stephen King Audio Books

One thing that's wonderful about Stephen King is that he allows his work to be put on audio. "Audio" has gone from tape to CD to MP3. (I'm still on that CD thing).

I remember my 18th birthday being great because King released Needful things -- in 3 parts. And as I recall, it didn't all come out at once. I used bithday money for part one, and within a week the store had part 2. I spent a lot of money back then to buy all three parts -- and read the whole thing. (Listened to the whole thing) I loved it!

Listening is nice because, for those of us with ADHD, we can do something else at the same time. I have built lots of lego houses!

No Abridgements Please!

As far as I'm concerned, an abridgement of a book is about as helpful as the Readers Digest Bible! If the author meant for the words to be there, then I was reader want to read them! I listened to the original stand and was disappointed by how dry it was compared to the uncut version. (That and Grover Gardner's reading voice is awkward)

I think one reason I really stuck with Stephen King is that he puts his stuff on audio. As a teenager audio books were a new thing, and I found quickly that one thing I hated was an abridged book. But thankfully, my favorite author also hated chopped up books. There is nothing like listening to a 3 hour version of a 900 page book (Tom Clancy!). After King heard his book Thinner on tape, he was upset with the many deep cuts made in his novel. So he made a rule: No more abridgements.

Of course, there have been a few abridgements. For instance, I bought a copy of Desperation from Amazon and was surprised when it arrived as a "longer" abridgement. It wasn't the 3 hour hack job that publishers used to love, but it still wasn't everything!


It drives me crazy when there is a King book I want to read, but I actually have to read it. My time is usually spent with my nose in study books for work -- I read for the fun.

Top books I'd like to see on audio:

  • The mist (It's out there, but you can't buy it!)

  • IT (If they can do Under The Dome, then give us IT!)

  • The Stand

  • Eyes of the Dragon (Come on, this one should be EASY!)

  • Cujo

  • The Dead Zone

  • Christine

  • Pet Sematary

  • The Dark Half

  • The Running Man.

  • The Tommyknockers. (Okay -- they can abridge that one!)

I see download options for something called "torrent" but I think it's illegal. They seem to have several of the above titles.

Sometimes audio can be confusing

When could a Stephen King audio book ever be confusing? When reading a book of short stories! I find myself sometiems thinking: "Now what story am I on?"

Also, the audio is frustrating when it's not really the book being read. For instance, I just listened to Pet Sematary -- the British Dramatazation. Fun, kinda -- but it's not the book! One reason I like Stephen King is his mastery of the language. That can't be enjoyed when it's put into a drama. Same thing with the Mist -- fun drama, 3D and all, but not the same as having the words brought together into a story. I want to know HOW king described that mist and the stuff in it.

Read by the author:

At the beginning of the Gunslinger (the original one) King explained that he thought there was good reason for a writer to read his own work. I agree. He alone knows how to make certain sections flow. He knows where to put energy and emphisis.

Going from memory, King has read:

  • Dark Tower 1

  • Dark Tower 2 (Drawing of the Three)

  • Needful Things

Best translations to audio:

  • Needful Things. (King does a great reading. The introduction and conclusion is something only King could have really pulled off.)

  • Misery.

  • Dolores Claiborne

  • Bag of Bones

  • Cell

2009 Bram Stoker Awards

The Horror Writers Association presented the 2009 Bram SToker awards for "Superior achievement in horror fiction published in 2008" to the following winners:

NOVEL: Duma Key by Stephen King

FIRST NOVEL: The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti

LONG FICTION: Miranda by John R. Little

SHORT FICTION: "The Lost" by Sarah Langan

FICTION COLLECTION: Just After Sunset by Stephen King

ANTHOLOGY:Unspeakable Horror edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder

NONFICTION:A Halloween Anthology by Lisa Morton

POETRY COLLECTION:The Nightmare Collection by Bruce Boston

HWA Richard Laymon Award John R. Little

HWA Silver Hammer AwardSephera Giron

This is Stephen King's response to winning two Stoker Awards.

I'm delighted to tell you that I won not one but TWO Stoker Awards at this year's ceremony, one for Duma Key (Best Novel) and one for Just After Sunset (Best Collection). My motto is, You can never be too thin, too rich, or win too many Stoker Awards. (If you've never seen one, the awards are most excellently cool.) My thanks to everyone who voted, and my congratulations to all the other nominees. Most of all, though, thanks to everyone who bought those books and enjoyed them. (And if you bought them and didn't enjoy them, I still thank you.)


Stephen King: End of the world

Stephen King isn't afraid to end the world as we know it. It's one of the things that makes reading King such a treat.

I've been re-reading Cell this summer. King himself compared it to the stand -- in both books he took great pleasure in destroying the world. Of course in The Stand it takes 150 pages to really get society nice and dead -- in Cell the destruction begins in the first few lines.

It's also enjoyable because King doesn't destroy a world we don't understand. For instance, Tom Clancy keeps things at a military level. But King drops down to the everyday joe.

Quick notes, a few books King destroyed the world:

  • The Stand.

  • The Mist.

  • The Dark Tower (Rolands world has passed away)

  • Needful Things. (Destroyed Castle Rock)

  • Cell.

It's also nice that stories where the world is at stake, for the most part, the characters are simply part of the story. They don't have to save the planet! It's not Star Trek! King suggested that Under The Dome would have similiar storyline to the Stand

Not Just Horror

"So, uh. . . you like Stephen King, huh?"

People usually say this with an air of surprise. How could a preacher -- a Baptist preacher -- like Stephen King. "Doesn't he write that scary stuff?" They ask. Well, yes, sort of.

I've noticed that we live in a world that loves to classify people! You can't just write books, you have to write a type of books. But good authors break the mold! Stephen King does write wonderful horror novels. Fo rexample, The Shining is a great example of good horror.

But, King doesn't JUST write horror. The Body is a coming of age story. Eyes of the Dragon is a children's novel. The Dead Zone, though is is grouped has horror, is really more of a straight character driven novel witha twist. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is suspense.

Sometimes King leans more toward scifi. For instance Tommyknockers was supposed to be a 1940's sci-fi novel. Of course, it didn't really work -- but it was a nobel and mostly enjoyable try. Dreamcatcher is also scifi and so is From A Buick 8. Most of the stories in Four Past Midnight are science Fiction. The Sun Dog reminded me of a long Twilight Zone episode.

Fantasy is a major Genre for King. The Dark Tower series is King's version of Lord of the Rings. Of course, I like the way King did it better! Eyes of the Dragon fall into the Fantasy catagory of Fantasy. I"m not a fan of the genre -- usually fantasy is just people walking around. But King colors the stories with other genre's! Wonderful to have a western story mixed with horror and fantasy. Ahhh, only Stephen King could do that!

Often a King novel isn't any one "thing." What is the Stand, really? What is Cujo, or Needful Things? They're just good books. Horror? Yes! But there's more than that. The novels are deeper.
Good writers always go beyond the genre. For instance, what eactly did Dicken's write? Legal thriller (Bleak House) or charater novel (Copperfield) or ghost story (Christmas Carol) or social commentary (Hard Times). Life doesn't fall into one catagory, or pity the person who has to live a horror novel! Sometimes horror mixes with romance.
Stephen King at his best is when he is writing stories without conern for any "type." The story tells itself.

Under The Dome Synopsis

Stephen King's official website released the plot synopsis for Under The Dome on April 27.

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.

Stephen King Interviews Himself

Stephen King gets asked the same questions a lot. "Why do you write what you do. . ." and stuff like that. It gets old quickly. Every now and then King interviews himself. They are the best interviews. He does comment on several short stories in Just After Sunset and clears up the record about his comments concerning the education level of our troops.

Stephen King Interviews Himself,
see: 10:50am September 4th, 2008 on Kings message board.

Geralds Game

After Stephen King blew up Castle Rock, he decided to move on to completely new ground. The next two novels would focus on women, then old people, then back to women. It was an interesting period. Thank goodness for the Green Mile -- which seemed to break the rut for King. In most of King's previous works, King had not coused heavily on sane women. There was Annie in Misery and Bobbie in the Tommy Knockers, but Annie was crazy and Bobbie possessed. (Though Polly, who lived in pain, was a great character in Needful Things) Anyway, the two "woman" novels set side by side with matching looks and crossing narration.

Jessie Burlingame changes her mind midway into a kinky game of bondage with her husband. He has her handcuffed to the bed when she begins to protest that she doesn't want to play after-all. However, Gerald doesn't stop! So Jessie kicks him, hard -- and he falls backward to his death. The book's action focuses mostly on the tension Jessie experiences as a dog and later a serial killer enter the cabin.

Much of the book focuses on Jessie's past, and the big eclipse. King explores sexual abuse. It is the kind of focused, tight writing that King enjoys. Not a cast of characters, just one woman alone, tied to a bed.

This is not one of my favorite novels. It's a little slow, and thankfully it's not real long. This is one of those where you're left going: "A little more story, and a little less character development -- please!"

Why Read Geralds Game?
Two words: Doloros Claiborne. Doloros says that during an eclipse she became very concerned about another little girl. We realize that other little girl is Jessie -- and she was not okay! I remember ice running over my spine as I read that. Wow, Stephen, that's good stuff!

Audio edition, unabridged.

Identify a first edition:
Gerald's Game 1992 Viking 6.25 x 9.5 x 1.1"
"First published in 1992 by Viking Penguin” on CP
"1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2" on CP

King: Harry Potter IN -- Twilight OUT!

Stephen King has stated more than once his enthusiasm for the Harry Potter series. My daughter LOVES the Twilight books. But, apparently, Mr. King sees it different. King, in a Febuary 2, 2009 interview with Lorrie Lynch in USA Weekend, stated: "The real difference is that JK Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good."

While that seems to have created a small fire-storm among Meyer's supporters, it is nice to know what someone actually thinks! King doesn't lie about his opinions, which means when he says he liked something ou can trust that he actually likes it.

The Stand

By far fans of Stpehen King have preferred the Stand. It was the book that introduced me to his writing. In many ways the Stand represents his writing well.
I first read the 1990 restored version and later listened to the original cut version. What is most striking between the two versions was how dry the cut edition was. Wow! And still, it had been a favorite. But King infused his novel with a deeper flavor; both for characters and the destroyed American landscape.
Primary Story
A superflu sweeps over the world, leaving on a remnant to survive. In America, peope begin either dreaming about an old black woman (Mother Abigail) or are drawn to Las Vegas where the Dark Man is calling them. He intends to take this opportunity to rule the world. Those drawn to Mother must restart society. A favorite part of the book is the Free Zone's efforts to clear out buildings and get the electricity going again. Also the use of motorcycles, since roads and clogged with cars. Mother Abigail disappears for a while, then reappears to announce that those she has chosen must go to Vegas and take a "stand" against evil.
The Dark Tower
Wizard and Glass makes a particular connection to The Stand when Roland and his band find themselves in the world touched by the plague. Yikes, I remember as I read, characters are now moving through other novels by the same author. How neat.
Strenghts of the Stand:
The stand draws the reader in as King slowly takes the nation (presumeably the world) apart with his super-flu. This isn't as intense as it was when I first read it, because the book is so popular everyone kind of knows what is going to happen. But remember, there was a time when we didn't know what would emerge from the rubble. What would happen after everyone died? What was up with those strange dreams?
Both plot and characters make the Stand a good read. You want to like Stu, but characters like Herold strike more at home. Stu taking Fran and the intense rage from herold was strong. That King allows for conflict within thier own circles makes the story come to life.
I am hopeful that Under the Dome will be "Stand" like!
Favorite Characters:
Mother Abigail, Stu, Larry, Fran, Flagg, Herold, Glenn, The Kid, the Trashcan Man.
I have always wondered something about The Stand: Why was it necessary for the men to go take their stand in Vegas? Once Flagg had the bomb, the finger of God stopped him, not the men. They didn't really take much of a stand, they just got captured. So they were there to witness it, but what 'stand" did they really take?
  • The original novel was put on audio, with Grover Gardner narrating. Personally, I don't like his narration, which is dry. It is out of print. I do not know why the complete and uncut edition was not put on audio. Of course, some websites claim to have a copy. . . but not a legal one.
  • .
  • Available as an e-book.
  • .
  • King himself wrote the script for the 2004 mini-series. Which, in my opinion, was fantastic. The mini-series faithfully brought the novel to life.
  • .
  • A comic book.


  • The Stand, hadcover
  • The Stand, paperback
  • The Stand Complete and UnCut, British edition (true first edition)
  • The Stand Complete and UnCut, hardcover
  • The Stand Complete and UnCut, paperback
  • The Stand Complete and UnCut, leatherbound. (Good luck getting a copy of that!)

How to identify a first edition (Bev Vincent):
The Stand 1978 Doubleday 5.75 x 8.5 x 1.9"
"First Edition" on CP
T39 on page 823

Original Bookcovers:

IT's a New Movie

According to, Warner Brothers is making a movie version of IT. Several key elements have been revealed:

1. The dates have been changed to move the modern scenes forward. That's disappointing, since the 1950's was a cool time frame to set the sections of the story with the kids.

2. The studio has promised a "No PG-13." Which means they will go out on the gore and fear. One of the things missing when ABC did their mini-series.

3. It is being done for the big screen. Which of course causes the immediate question: How can they get the novel, over 1,000 pages to be fairly represented in such a short time frame?

You Stole My Story

The opening line in Secret Window, Secret Garden is, "You stole my story." I'll bet King hears that a lot. But, now, seriously. . . somehow he stole my story! When I was in High School I wrote a novel, or started 300 pages of a novel, titled: "Silent Peremeter." It wasn't very good, but listen to the plot: It was about a city that was cut off from the world when a fog or mist settled over the city. The army gathered outside and inside war broke out.

All right, I'll knock it off. Actually, this is strange, but I'm really excited to see how he carried the idea out. Obviously I thought it was a good idea for a long book, but was unable to make it happen. What is also interesting is that long before I even put a word to paper, King had already tried his hand at this novel and stopped.

Truth is, I can't wait to read King's new book. If I ever find a copy of my book (I, uh, never printed it!), I'll at least give it a personal read through. I do remember the writing being particularly bad. It was like putting two King novels together (The Mist and The Stand).

But now seriously -- wasn't the plot for Under The Dome a lot like The Simpsons?!

And, by the way, where is the Secret Window OR the Secret Garden in that book?

Stephen King mistaken for vandal in Alice

This is from August, 2007:

A bookstore manager was stunned when she saw someone enter her bookstore and begin writing in the books. The person quickly left, causing the employees think they were the victims of vandalism.

Ms. Ellis said, "So we immediately ran to the books and lo-and-behold here was the signature in several books. We sort of spun around on our heels, [saying] 'where did he go, where did he go. . . So I went over and introduced myself ... He was lovely, very nice, charming."

King signed a total of six books. I don't know, I just find something fun about that story! Imagine going to the bookstore, not a specialty store or something like that, just a regular store, and choosing to buy a Stephen King book -- and it turns out to be signed! Cool.

Truly Scary

Stephen King isn't afraid to scare you. He's not afraid to tick you off, get under your skin, or really make you mad. From curse words to truly gory stuff, he has it all. The only thing he doesn't do is explicit sex scenes. Personally, I could live with characters who don't have a potty mouth, but I understand his reasoning.

A big reason for reading King, at least for me, is the fear factor. This guy writes some scary stuff! Just a few scenes I like:

  • Larry Underwood crawling through the tunnel in The Stand. That was great! Too bad it translated so poorly to film. I remember as a teenager sitting up breathless as Larry went from car to car, over dead bodies to get out of that tunnel.

  • The rats in Graveyard Shift. Truthfully, though, the bigger the rats get, the less scary they are.

  • Blood that adults can't see in the novel IT.

  • Polly fighting the spider in Needful THings.

  • The "person" in the room in Geralds Game. Not my favorite book, but it was a scary scene.

  • Annie's revenge in Misery.

  • Pet Semetary, the entire books is scary. Really scary. Think about it, this book deals with the dark side of Resurrection. That is the key concept in Christianity, always expressed as a hopeful epectation. But what if the dead could come back? Would we let them? The theme is played out well, and the entire book is dark and scary.

The Mist

I loved the book "The Mist." The 3D audio recording was good, too. There is something sharp about this small novel. It "pops!" I love the idea of the people stranded in a store, turning against each other as monsters outside try to get them. I love the scene of the creatures flying through the store, and the tenticals attacking the men in the back loading area. Wow, it really moved. In fact, I think it is among King's scariest writings.

The Movie was also fantastic. Well, until the end. I'll just say this: I thought that was a terrible ending! Artsie, yes. Dark, gloomy, yes. But still terrible. I left the theater really bummed out, after watching a movie I loved 99% of. So at my house, we skip the end. I wish there was an alternate ending for that.

The strength's of the mist are:
  • It's length. It moves quickly into the action. After swallowing down a book like IT or The Stand, it's nice to have something that just moves quickly.
  • Characters. Conflict arises naturally as people take sides.
  • Situation. It is exciting to have that strange mist roll in, and then the monsters with it. Even the idea of the omnious "Arrowhead Project" is exciting.

Just couldn't make it!

Okay, here is a quick list of King books I started, but just couldn't make it through! This list says nothing about King's writing, only my perseverance in reading.

Lisey's Story. Seriously, was I supposed to keep up with all the flashbacks? My wife was listening to the book with me as we drove and we agreed that we couldn't even keep up with what era the scene was in. "No, this is past..." "oh yeah, you're right."

The Talisman. Sorry, I can't get past the first few pages of this. I keep reading about Jack Sawyer at the a cheap motel and looking at the sea, and it just doesn't grab me.

Christine. First person, third person, first person. . . huh?! I liked the movie.

The Tommyknockers. Okay, I liked the miniseries, so I keep coming back to this book. But it is frustratingly overwritten. I wish, seriously, that King would bless us with a better editied edition. If he could give us a new cut of the stand, why not a new cut of this? I think the idea of publishing Carrie and Tommyknockers together is funny. "Hey, we can't get anyone to read Tommyknockers. Maybe it they get hooked on Carrie, they will just keep reading. . ." Goodluck on that one.

Stephen King's 10 Best Novels

The Essential Stephen King sought to rank the novels and work of Stephen King. Of course, since it wasn't MY list, he got it wrong. (Come on, who doesn't put the Stand at the top of the list? Seriously!)

10. Salem's Lot
9. Cell
8. The Mist (Skeleton Crew)
7. Dolores Claiborne (I loved the connection to Geralds Game)
6. Dreamcatcher
5. Wolves Of The Calla
4. The Shining
3. Needful Things
2. IT
1. The Stand

Do "First" Editions Matter?

If you want to read Stephen King just for the pleasure of reading, does it really matter if you get a first edition or a tenth? Probably not. I wanted my daughter to read Eyes of the Dragon this summer. Of course, we bought a paperback -- there is no way she is reading and dragging around my first edition!

When collecting, first editions are essential. Why?

1. A first edition gives you a feel for the era it was prented in. Books looked different in the 70's than they did in the 80's or 90's. Notice how nice a King book looks these days, compared to how cheap they were in "the day." This may sound strange, but the truth is, when I get a first edition I look at the date and think: "I remember what was going on in the world when this book was on the shelves."

This was particularly true of IT. As a child, I remember walking by a stack of books titled "IT" and thinking I would never know what that was all about! Now I own that very copy that could possibly be one of those copies I saw sitting there.

2. First editions are more rare. This naturally makes them more valuable. The hunt is on when searching for the true "first."

3. In some cases, first editions are almost unobtrainable. I have all of the Dark Tower Books first edition -- except . . . THAT one. You know which one, right? The Gunslinger. I have a second edition. And a third edition. But my wife just can't see putting out a thousand dollars for a first. Sigh. It is also especially hard to get first editions of: alem's Lot (with the boo boo), Carrie The Shining, and even nightshift.

4. Bachman books are hard to find in first edition simply because they were published without the King name attached. I found one for five dollars a few years back in a local used bookstore (God bless them).

5. British First Editions add another element to the hunt. I have not tried hard to find British editions, but I have bumped into a few and bought them. Usually at used bookstores that didn't know one King book from another.
I am not sure that books about King are valuable as first editions, though the rule seems to apply for anything: It is worth more in its original state.