06 August 2009

My Apologies Unca' Stevie

I've been reading a long time. According to my mother, I began reading independently when I was around 3 and after that never wanted her (or anybody) to read to me again. I wanted to read it myself.

Fast forward seven or so years and, courtesy of my best friend and her older brother, I'd already read the Lord of The Rings trilogy (a couple of times). Fantasy and Sci-Fi ruled my reading life.

I was a member of the Science-Fiction Book Club (think Book-of-the-Month but only featuring sci-fi and fantasy). I read the biggies, the not-so-biggies and everything in between: Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Terry Brooks, Piers Anthony, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Bradbury. I subscribed to "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction" and thoroughly read each digest-sized issue; devouring everything cover to cover.

Horror is a sub-genre of sci-fi and fantasy, so it was somewhat natural for me to branch off into horror fiction. I can't remember when I first started reading Stephen King's novels and short stories. I must have been around 14 or so. But I know I've read and reread many of his works (Cujo, Christine and Night Shift stand out in my mind. But I've never been able to finish 'Salem's Lot. It's just too scary.). The bulk of my teen years my home life was a horror show so reading about a possessed car or a crazed dog was a nice escape.

Once I reached my 20's, though, I left off reading Mr. King. There was no specific reason I stopped. I just did. Maybe it was because he was a very popular writer (has been for well over 30 years now - there's a very good reason for that) and I was all about not reading "popular" fiction. I moved on to other writers (Neil Gaiman, in particular) and horror lost its luster for me after my dad died.

I haven't read any of Stephen King's work in well over 20 years.

Recently though I downloaded King's non-fiction work, On Writing, to my Kindle (one of the most awesome birthday gifts I've received). I had forgotten what a true master craftsman Stephen King is. Boy howdy, he knows his stuff. His writing is clear, simple yet still elegant, spot-on brilliant. That's what had hooked me as a kid: not so much the horror, but his style (that and I loved that the most mundane thing in the world could become completely terrifying). On Writing is an amazing how-to. I'm about half-way through and have highlighted several passages that I will use with my students this year. It's a must read for any one who enjoys writing.

Stephen King also writes regularly for "Entertainment Weekly" (one of the many mags I subscribe to). His writing is as clean and crisp as ever in his editorials, reinforcing his status as one of this country's most gifted writers. He's smart, honest, unmuddied. He's Unca' Stevie to his readers.

Including this one.

And Unca' Stevie? I'm sorry for not reading the Dark Tower books. Or Misery. Or The Stand. Or the myriad of other stories you've published over the past two decades. I'll make up for it. I promise.


Quigs78 said...

I was a huge SK fan back in the day. I can't watch a horror movie without crying or wetting myself, but I can read about it all day long. Although I do remember (vividly) reading It in 7th grade and having to turn the book upside down at night so the clown on the cover wasn't looking at me.

I haven't read anything of his since The Green Mile, though. I may have pick up a book or two now!

Mommy, Queen Of Everything said...

I haven't looked at a topiary the same way since I read The Shining. I catch myself looking over my shoulder just in case they're following me. It's funny how things stay with you because it's been years since I read that book.

VeganLinda said...

I also started reading at 3, although with two older sibs I still enjoyed being read aloud to...it was attention after all. Sounds like we had similar taste in books. I loved Piers Anthony and then Stephen King, but I don't think I could read King as a parent...I've lost my love of horror. I will check out this book though!

Harley Quinn said...

I'm reading 'The Graveyard' by Neil Gaiman. It's the first book of his I have read and I love it!

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