Grady Hendrix’s Stephen King Reread at Tor.com

For the last two weeks, I’ve been in withdrawals because the wonderful “Great Stephen King Reread” that Grady Hendrix is doing over at Tor.com was on vacation. But it was back yesterday, covering Stephen King’s first collection of novellas, Different Seasons. And it was as good as ever. I love this series. Hendrix writes in detail with great insights into the fiction, and lots of fascinating biographical tidbits about Stephen King in the context of the work being explored. For instance, today there was this great bit of insight, which I seem to also recall reading in On Writingalthough I may be mistaken:

King generally writes two drafts of his novels, then a polish. In the first draft, he tells himself the story, pounding it out and getting it on the page. In the second, he “takes out everything that isn’t the story,” adjusting motivations, characterizations, cutting digressions, and generally fine-tuning the work. It’s usually after this that he gives the manuscript to his first readers and incorporates their ideas and changes, then sends it to his editor. When it comes back from his editor he incorporates their notes in a final polish, although he says that since switching to writing on a computer this final polish feels more like a completely new third draft.

Each time I read one of the posts in this series, I am amazed at (a) how much more depth their is to some of King’s work than I initially recognized; and (b) how insightful Grady Hendrix is on his readings. I think he is setting the bar high for future rereads.

The biggest problem I have after reading each post is that I want to read more Stephen King. I’ve discussed before how I more or less dismissed the first two books that I ever read by Stephen King (‘Salem’s Lot and Needful Things). Then, after reading On Writing, I decided to give him another try, starting from the beginning, and I have not been disappointed. Indeed, I have now read It not once, but twice and it was better the second time. It is one of my favorite books. Still, I haven’t come close to reading all of King’s body of work. In fact, at present, here is what I have read by King, in the order that I have read it:

  1. ‘Salem’s Lot (9/2001)
  2. Needful Things (9/2004)
  3. On Writing (9/2009)
  4. Carrie (9/2009)
  5. The Shining (9/2009)
  6. It (10/2009)
  7. Night Shift (11/2009)
  8. Under a Dome (11/2009)
  9. Different Seasons (12/2009)
  10. The Stand (6/2010)
  11. The Dead Zone (6/2010)
  12. Firestarter (6/2010)
  13. Pet Sematary (6/2010)
  14. Blockade Billy (6/2011)
  15. 11/22/63 (11/2011)
  16. The Green Mile (11/2011)
  17. Full Dark, No Stars (7/2012)
  18. Bag of Bones (7/2012)
  19. It (second read, 7/2012)

I’d love to read more and Grady’s posts make me want to read more, and more closely. But I simply don’t have the time. I am buried in freelance work, day job, to say nothing of the reading I do for book reviews.

So for now, I am living vicariously through Grady’s posts. His initial intent was to cover King’s first decade of writing. He is close to completing that. I sure hope he (and Tor.com) decide to continue the series beyond that. It is one of the highlights of my week.