Seven Reasons We Read Stephen King, #2 : He's Mean

Who woul do this to a high school prom?
Stephen King would !  And it's just mean.

Here is another reason the constant reader remains faithful to King's writing: He's Mean.

Yep, it's true.  He's one mean dude.  Don't get all gushy about all the nice things he does for people; flying troops home for Christmas and paying for people's heating bills -- the truth is, ice runs in those veins. 

Okay, the man Stephen King is a great guy.  But wait!  The writer can be one cruel, heartless, mean monster.  Most writers don't have the guts to be mean!  (refer to article #1 in this series).

I will mention this right now, and get it out of the way: Stephen King is a murderer.  Yep, he is.  I'm not producing the list because it will "spoil" some stories -- but how many favorite characters has Mr. King killed?  A lot!  There was that nasty bomb in The Stand.  And a not so pleasant death in 11.22.63.  I believe a few people died in Duma Key -- and it wasn't pretty!  What made that scene with George in IT so scary?  The fact you knew Stephen King was mean enough to actually let the monster chow down on little Georgie!  Could Danielle Steele have done it?  No.  But then, after reading a few pages of Danielle Steele, I'm wishing I was little Georgie.

King isn't satisfied to just kill characters -- he delights in some pretty nasty death sentences.  There's very few lethal injection's in a King book.  He's more likely to kill a character with more. . . creative methods.

Seriously, I couldn't believe it when a youngster shot himself in the head in one King novel.  A kiddo!  Is anyone safe?  No!  But just the fact that he would do something like that made me come back again.  Gives the reader the feeling, "I gotta keep reading, I don't know what that mean writer will do next!"

King might try and tell us he's not that bad; the bad boys are the George Stark's and Richard Bachman's -- but I don't think so!  As Machine goes about the gruesome murders in a Stark novel, I can hear Stephen King's villainous laugh coming from the shadows.

Here are some mean things Stephen King did to us:

1. Christine.  That name alone should cause you to shiver a bit.  The novel is a "take no prisoners" type book.  It's straight horror, and I love it!  It's painful to endure such darkness as a reader -- and what keeps us going back!  It's the sure knowledge that King is mean enough to keep making it worse! 

King is not going to get up one morning and think, "Man, these poor readers need some sunshine!  I better lighten up on this horror."  No sir!  He doesn't care if his book gives you a bad day, or keeps you awake at night.  And what makes it worse, I'm pretty sure he enjoys it.  He relishes the title "America's Boogeyman."  He's happy when you are shivering under the covers too scared to visit dreamland.

2. The Dark Tower.  Oh sure, the misery is over now -- but some of us remember waiting years (YEARS!) for mean ole Stephen King to get his pen and paper out and once again follow the Beam.  But was he worried about us?  No!  He just wrote what he wanted, forgetting the tower all together for spells while he hammered out Misery and The Green Mile and stuff like that.  Sure, we read the other stuff, always wondering: "When is the next tower book coming out?"  Did King care that we were waiting?  No!  He wrote at Roland's prompting, not ours. 

I saw an article recently that George Lucas would not make any more Star Wars films because the fans made him so miserable.  People say things to Lucas like, "You ruined my life!"  And so, off he goes to sulk and not make anymore Star Wars.  See, the problem is, Lucas isn't mean enough!  He should say, "Forget the fans!  It's not their story, it's mine!"  Go ahead, inflict Jar Jar Binks on us.

King doesn't take opinion polls on which way a story should go.  I mean, I was not a happy camper when I reached the end of the Dark Tower.  Did mean ole Stephen King care?  No!  Get this, our misery brings him satisfaction.

I leave you with this: Would anyone want to live inside a Stephen King novel?  NO!  Because you never know how he's going to mess with you!  He has discussed the possibility of Charlie from Firestarter and Danny from The Shining meeting up.  Are those two characters hiding in a closet somewhere, screaming, "No!  Make him leave us alone!"  Sure, I can think of a priest who thought the horror was over with Salem's Lot, but King turned up years later with more fun in his bag.

Would you ruin a high school prom?  No!  Because you're nice.  But Stephen King would, because he's mean.  And that's one reason we read him!  Because Mr. King is not afraid to do all kinds of cruel stuff to his characters.

No, this article was not written by Stephenie Meyer.


  1. Perhaps meanest of all, King apparently has no plans to ever finish writing "The Plant"!


    Is it even published anywhere accessable to the rest of us?

    I would prefer he offer us another 100 pages of Cannibals. I was really liking that book.

  3. As far as I know, "The Plant" is not available online ... not legally, at least.

    I'm with you on the subject of "The Cannibals." I'd love to read the rest of it someday, despite the fact that King never finished it.

  4. Post BBQ in Bag of Bones.

    Nuff said.

  5. The interesting thing is I think i might have figured out not where King get hi ideas so much as why he writes horror, and I'm convinced it comes from two things.

    The first is here's this kid from New England growing up on the very low rent end of existence. There's nothing really wrong in that, he's healthy and not overfed, it's just that his Mom was always worried about what would happen to them. The circumstances Mr. King's Mom found herself in made fret day in and out what would become of her, what would become of her kids, what would happen to them if something happened to her, what if something bad happened to them, do we have the funds etc? Kids pick up on adult worries like this, and I'm convinced that's what King did from his Mom. The result was he began to think well what we'll happen to me, what'll happen to her what if...? The result was he grew up with this kind of free floating anxiety about things and I might be wrong but that's the engine that powers his writing somewhat toady still.

    The second thing is the Sixties, fr me ti's the implication that a lot of his fears and other problems stemmed from the crazy side of the the Sixties and the marks that left on him. I think those are the two great wheels that create a lot of his fiction. It's also why he writes what he does, it's his way of getting rid of those fears. As his Mom once said, "Imagine the worst thing that can happen and then it'll never happen to you."

    At least that's why I think he writes what he does.