Sunday, February 27, 2011

Stephen King and I

I have yet another reading confession to make.  Though I'm generally open to reading different genres, I have avoided horror novels like the plague.  With the exception of the R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike books of my youth, and the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it hasn't really appealed to me as a reader.  I just never understood why a person would like the feeling of being scared.  I lose enough sleep as it is.  So I was partially humouring my boyfriend and indulging my own curiosity when I picked up Night Shift by Stephen King.  

It is a collection of short stories that were originally published in magazines throughout the seventies.  A lot of the stories have since been adapted into movies, one of the most well-known being "Children of the Corn."  Due to the fact that there are dozens of different plots involved in this book, I can't really go into the details too much, but I will discuss my personal favourites.  "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road" stood out to me as stellar writing by Stephen King.  He effectively captures the superstitious nature of the people of those who live in a small town and the outsiders who give them grief.  I like how King approached the story from these differing points of view, and the first of the two stories shows a lot of versatility in terms of his writing abilities.  Other great stories include "The Mangler" and "Trucks" which both feature machines that come to life and butcher their human overlords.  

What I really enjoyed about this collection is the variety that King achieves in terms of the stories. Every type of creepiness is represented in this collection, from stalker boyfriends, to hordes of rats, and mutants.  Other horror that I read in the past was really hollow and predictable in comparison. The only other work that I have read by Stephen King is his non-fiction book about writing aptly titled On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. This book and the foreword of this book both describe King's writing process, and although I've never read any of his fiction before this, his reflections about writing are quite brilliant.  He talks about why he writes about the dark subject matter that he does and his theory makes a lot of sense.  Two people can look at an inanimate object and think of completely different ideas, his usually happen to be scary.  And that's okay. 

Overall, I'm happy that I finally heeded one of my boyfriend's book suggestions.  Reading this book was like a great appetizer platter where I got to sample some thought-provoking work.  I look forward to taking on one of King's full-length novels, so that I can experience his brand of suspense on a larger scale.   


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