Yesterday, several friends pointed me to an article in Salon.com titled, “My Stephen King Problem” by a fellow named Dwight Allen. Actually, they pointed me to an excellent rebuttal to the article by Erik Nelson titled, “Stephen King: You Can Be Popular and Good.” You might consider reading both before continuing.
I suspect they directed me to these posts for two reasons: (1) I am a writer of genre fiction; (2) I am a Stephen King fan. With regard to the latter, I think it is important to state for the record that I wasn’t always a Stephen King fan. Before I read any of his books, I rather arrogantly dismissed him as “just another horror writer.” Then, sometime back in 2001, I read ‘Salem’s Lot. I thought the first two-thirds of the book were excellent. But then the monsters showed up and I thought the book got silly. I decided King wasn’t for me. That said, a few years later, I decided to give him another try. I read Needful Things and had almost the exact same reaction. They say the third time is a charm, however, and in September 2009, not long after our son was born, I sat down to read King’s book On Writing and I absolutely loved it. Of course, that was nonfiction, but in it, he talked about several of his books and stories and charmed the reader in such a way as to make it virtually impossible not to give his fiction another try. So I decided to start from the beginning and I read Carrie. And you know what? I thought it was a pretty good book. I followed that up with The Shining (I’d never seen the movie) and I enjoyed that one as well. And then I read It and I still consider that to be one of the finest pieces of fiction I’ve ever read.