In a fuller article on Stephen King's speech yesterday at Charlotte Cultural Center, Pamela Staik discusses King's interest in Edgar Allan Poe. And, in a story King wrote in honor of the Tell Tale Heart, titled: The Old Dudes Ticker.
During the hourlong event, the author of modern-day horror also spoke about his influences in literature, including Edgar Allan Poe, a 19th-century American author who is at the center of The Big Read in Charlotte County.
While Poe may not have influenced King as much as other writers, he said Poe's influence was great for American literature. For starters, Poe invented the detective story and the use of an antihero in stories.
"Poe was the first writer to write about main characters who were bad guys or who were mad guys, and those are some of my favorite stories," King said.
He added that Poe, who spun tales of mystery and the macabre in his imagination, also inspired several of his favorite authors, including Robert Bloch, H.P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury.
"I came along and read all those guys, so you can say that we were all twisted by our evil grandfather," he joked.
In 1975, King put his own twisted spin on Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart," which he retitled "The Old Dude's Ticker." While the story mimics Poe's original storyline, King's adaptation features a Vietnam War veteran suffering from "combat fatigue" as the narrator, and lingo reminiscent of the 1970s.
After giving a brief description of his Poe adaptation, King stopped and looked at the audience.
"If you beg and scream, I've got it in my pocket, I can read it you you," he said, reaching toward his jacket pocket.
Naturally, applause, cheers and a few whistles rang out from the theater's packed seats.
"You really want to hear this story?" King asked, leaving the audience to erupt once again.
"Everything in the story that I'm going to read to you is in Poe's story, so if you get grossed out or if you get scared or if you go 'Yuk!' or something like that, don't blame me, blame it right on Poe," King said. "And you can't get at him, he's dead."
With an animated voice and matching hand motions, King read the veteran's plea of sanity.
More on King and Poe here: http://talkstephenking.blogspot.com/2009/12/stephen-king-and-edgar-allen-poe.html