I've been reading Lisa Rogak's "Haunted Heart." It's subtitled The Life and Times Of Stephen King. Rogak moves quickly to clarify that her book is not about King's books, but his life..
I found this to be an extremely frustrating read. For one thing -- maybe I've just read a lot of King biographies -- there is very little new material here. A lot of the quotes I saw on the A&E biography of King. She did make the effort to interview several of his friends and colleagues..
However, as I read, I just couldn't shake the feeling that "something's wrong." I kept asking myself, "why is this book spooking me" and not in a good way! This is all one persons opinion, okay. I welcome those of you who enjoyed this book and encourage you to cite what you liked..
My big complaint:.
Here's the deal: Rogak comes across as someone who has been assigned to write about Stephen King, not a personal fan. Note this paragraph early in the book: "Once I knew I was going to be writing about King's life, I got busy. I dug up old interviews in obsecure publications that only published one issue back in 1975, read numerous books, and watched almost all of themovies based on his stories and novels -- good and bad, and boy, the bad ones can be a hoot. I also plunged into the many books that have been written about him and his work since the early eighties. As with the films, there are some good ones and some that are not so good.".
By the way, notice what she didn't read. . . THE BOOKS! It appears she let the movies speak for the Stephen King cannon in her mind..
Rogak has written a lot of these biographies. Michelle Obama, Dan Brown, and more. It's like she's a professional biography writer who had to familiarize herself with who King was..
Who assumes that?.
Rogak writes, "So who is Stpehen King really? The standard assumption of casual fans and detractors is that he must be a creepy man who loves to blow things up in his backyard. Loyal fans usually go a bit deeper, knowing him to be a loyal family man and benefactor to countless charities, many around his Bangor, Maine home.".
I talk to a LOT of people who know very little about Stephen King. I have never had someone say they think he is a creepy man who loves to blow things up in his backyard. This statement is set up as if it is going to be the theme of the book to tell us who King really is..
This really grated on me as I read -- the constant use of King's first name. She almost never, ever, calls him "King" or "Stephen" or "Stephen King" -- but it's just good ole Steve. As if he's her drinking buddy. But, truth is, as she describes in the book, when given the opportunity "Steve" chose not to step out from a door he was hiding behind to meet her..
I think the reason this is so unnerving is not that there would not be occausion to call him "Steve." When your talking to him face to face and he says, "Hey, call me Steve." But in a book, it feel like the author is trying to present herself as more familiar with the subject than she is..
Just The Facts.
Rogak writes, "In researching his biography, I've attempted to check and double check the facts of his life, but whether it's the natural deterioration of memory that comes with age or two solid decades of abusing alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs in various combinations, the guy can't be faulted for fuding a few dates her and there." Nicely said. What she's saying, though, is that her biography will be more factual than King's own account of his life. It's a slam with a smile and a wink. But, even as a pretty serious fan, I have to ask: Does it really matter if exact dates get nailed down? Frankly, that's not what makest he story..
Rogak has her own facts problem within the text of the book. Namely, entire lines are repeated! Compare page 219 with page 226..
Also, there are frustrating factual errors: "A flurry of movies based on his books followed that fall, including Graveyardshift and IT which also became a made for TV miniseries. In May of 1984. . ." (p.132) Now, the Fall in question is 1984. Problem is, IT wasn't even published until 1986..
King is a difficult subject to write about. He's not a woman chaser. He's been married to the same woman and raised his family. So what makes his biography interesting is the books, movies and media. There are not a billion unique stories out there. But, just going through all the books alone is daunting -- not to mention books about King, movies and articles. This is not a Summer project!.
Even though this didn't speak to me, that's not to say that it's not a great effort. But, it feels, frankly, souless..
I prefer George Beahm's "Stephen King, America's Best Loved Boogeyman." I hope this book is updated soon. I also like the companion books a lot. To be honest, Bev Vincent's book actually makes you feel like you know "Steve" without it being creepy! Or, the A&E biography was okay, if not a little short.
All right! I've been pretty hard here. So feel free if you liked this book to rave about it.