One of the things I appreciate about Bryant is that he shoots straight. That’s important when seeking a gunslinger. This interview is simply one Constant reader to another -- two dudes who dig America's Boogieman.
Ramblngs Of A Honk Mahfah is HERE.
Talk Stephen King: Hi Bryant. Tell me about yourself.
Bryant Burnette: I am an assistant manager at a movie theatre. I've been doing that off and on -- mostly on -- since 1997. I took a break from it at one point because I'd decided I wanted to get a second degree and use it to become a high-school English teacher. That was a mistake; John Smith and Jake Epping I am decidedly not. I spent four months substitute teaching and decided I'd rather do just about anything than teach.
My specific job duty at work is that I'm in charge of my theatre's projection booth. That used to be a lot cooler than it is now. We're all digital now, but back when we ran traditional 35mm film, I would go to work and spend all day walking around threading film through the projectors, pressing start, and patrolling for problems. It was great. I'd take my MP3 player with me and listen to podcasts, or audiobooks, or whatever else was quiet enough that I could still hear the machines without any trouble.
With us being digital now, though, there's no need to spend all day in the booth, so I also work downstairs doing what all the other managers do: managing. It's not the dream job it used to be, but it's still pretty fun. For example, I'll end my shift tonight by watching a double-feature of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Adventures of Tintin all by myself, with the sound cranked up, the lights all the way off, and some tasty popcorn for crunchings and munchings. I'll get to program the show so I can watch whatever previews I want to watch, and there won't be any distractions.Talk Stephen King: How long have you been reading Stephen King?
Gotta love that, right?
Bryant Burnette: On purpose...? Since the summer of 1990. (More on that momentarily.)
However, I first read King semi-accidentally. It was 1987, and the movie version of The Running Man had come out. I was a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, thanks to the television edit of Conan the Barbarian, so I really wanted to see The Running Man. My mother -- rightly, I might add -- wouldn't let my father take me to see it, since it was rated R. So, Dad did the same thing he'd done earlier in the year when he couldn't take me to see Predator: he bought me the book. In the case of Predator, it was a novelization -- one that introduced me, at the age of 13, to numerous charming profanities which I still use to this day -- but in the case of The Running Man, it was (obviously) the Stephen King novel. I read it, and enjoyed it, but I didn't care who had written it; I only cared about it as a way of experiencing a movie I couldn't otherwise see.
Fast-forward to 1990. Dad had read a review of the uncut version of The Stand, and was talking about wanting to read it because it sounded interesting. However, when he was telling me about it, he goofed, and said it was a novel by Steven Spielberg...!
Here's a fact: I am a huge Spielberg fan, and have been since I was old enough to understand that movies were made by actual people. So when I heard that my favorite moviemaker had written a novel about good and evil battling it out after the end of the world, how do you suppose I reacted?
You got it. I went to try and find a copy. I bought most of my books at a used bookstore called The Book Rack, so that was the first place I looked, and the nice old lady who ran the place directed me to a copy of the original edition of The Stand, written by ... Stephen King.
Stephen King?!? What the...? I thought it was written by Spielberg!
Was I disappointed? Yes. Oh, yes, I certainly was. BUT ... I remembered having read -- and liked -- The Running Man, so I decided to give the book a whirl.
Never has a fish been caught so firmly. Unlike most fish, though, I felt no pain at being hooked: I was happy to be dangling on that line.
I couldn't afford new books, so instead, over the course of the next few months, I bought every used Stephen King book The Book Rack had. Then I reread them all. Then I bought things that looked similar: books by people like Peter Straub, and Robert R. McCammon, and Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker. About a year later, I started -- I had a job by this time! -- buying the books new in hardback.
Twenty years later, I'm just as hooked as I ever was.
Talk Stephen King: Okay, what is your favorite book? If you say "the Stand" you have to list a second favorite, because almost everyone says The Stand! If you don't say "The Stand" you will be rushed to Kingdom hospital for a deep exam.
Bryant Burnette: My favorite book is NOT, in fact, The Stand. It's It. So, yay me; I get to avoid checking in to Kingdom Hospital!
Talk Stephen King: No. We're still sending you. . . we just have to find a new reason. Let the
interrogation--I mean interview -- continue. . .
Talk Stephen King: The Honk Mahfah is now required to list the 10 best Stephen King books. If he does not, he will be forced to watch play fetch with Cujo. Get to it, my friend. . .
Bryant Burnette: One of the blog posts that was the most fun for me to write was a post wherein I ranked ALL of King's books, "worst" to best. It was also one of the most difficult I have written; it took a week! So, I suppose I could cheat and just post a link to that article, but what fun would that be? None.
Instead, I'll go off the dome and give you a Top 10, and then later the motivated can go check my blog and see if I was able to replicate the order!
10 -- Carrie
9 -- The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
8 -- Skeleton Crew
7 -- The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
6 -- On Writing
5 -- The Green Mile
4 -- The Dead Zone
3 -- The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
2 -- Different Seasons
1 -- It
So, for those of you keeping score at home, yes, it IS true: I don't even have The Stand in my Top 10! (Incidentally, here's a link to that post, and it turns out I got fairly close to replicating the order: HERE)Talk Stephen King: I know you also enjoy collecting King items when they don’t cost a billion dollars! Do you have a most treasured possessions?
Talk Stephen King: What! That Stand isn't on your top 10 list! I'm calling the Library Police.
Bryant Burnette: I'm going to answer that question in two ways.
First of all, I'm going to say that my single most treasured King book is a book about King: the massive limited edition Knowing Darkness: Artists Inspired by Stephen King. A few words about that: it's not a perfect book, not by any means. The text is frequently fascinating, but just as frequently sloppy: riddled with typos, poor grammar, and all-around bad writing. I know, I know: an amateur writer taking a pro to task for sloppy writing is laughable. If that's your reaction, you're not wrong. NOW, that said, I stand by my statements, and insist that for $250 (which is what that book cost, though I was able to get it for $150) a customer ought to be able to expect a book to be impeccably edited. It is also so heavy a book that -- and I kid you not about this -- the second I pulled it out of the box, it tore out the bottom of the slipcase and plummeted to the floor. I had to tape the slipcase back together; it looks like crap and makes the book highly un-resellable. Luckily, I don't have any intention of reselling it, because despite those complaints, I ADORE that book. The art is gorgeous beyond belief, and THAT'S the reason I bought the book.
Secondly, though, I have a pair of hardbacks that are REAL rarities. They are both extremely limited editions.
One is a hardback of The Plant, which was made by the local company that serves as the bindery for the city library. That's right; I printed out all six parts of The Plant (front and back of the pages, no less!) and had them bound as a hardback. I love being able to put that on my shelf.
Talk Stephen King: Woe! THAT IS COOL!
Bryant Burnette: As for the second, it is also a hardback bound by the local library bindery. This one, though, is a true one-of-a-kind. I'm sure other people printed out The Plant and had it bound; there probably aren't a ton of those floating around in the world, but I'm not daft enough to think I'm the only King nut who had that particular idea. However, I've got a copy of a book called The Unfound Door, which consists of rare, uncollected Stephen King short stories like "Weeds" and "The Crate" and "Man with a Belly," interviews, screenplays, articles about King, etc. I edited this collection myself, meticulously retyping it all so that the book would have a uniform -- if amateurish -- look and feel. There have probably been a few peole who've done this, as well, but since I edited mine -- even including vain little commentary pieces! -- personally, there is no other edition of this particular book.
I spent the better part of a year on that project! So, really, I probably ought to count THAT as my most treasured King item!
Hopefully, by the way, that doesn't make me sound too creepy and obsessed.
Talk Stephen King: Creepy, no way! Obsessed. . . we all are a little.
Bryant Burnette: It was a lot of hard work, but I remember listening to a LOT of great music while I did it, so it was definitely not time wasted. Plus: now, if I want to read "Before the Play" or "Slade" in the middle of the night, I've got a collection that can solve that problem!
. . . . . .
Okay, that's going to wrap it up for this part. But check back, because the second part will be published faster than Blane The Mono can give a riddle.