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Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Shamrock on March 22, 2011, 05:57:31 AM

Title: Stephen King
Post by: Shamrock on March 22, 2011, 05:57:31 AM
I've been contemplating creating a Stephen King thread for awhile, I know not everyone is a fan of his work but I love him.
So to those who have read his work and liked it, or hated it. What did you read and think about his work?

Personally for me he's a very hit and miss author. Some of his books are great and some are just awful, for example The Dark Tower series for me the series could have ended with Wizard and Glass and I would have been quite happy. Especially the final ending in The Dark Tower was a complete let down but after the amount of work that went into and is still going into the series I suppose he was entitled to an easy way out.

An interesting fact though, he was nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1976 for 'Salem's Lot. I finished it last night, and well I can't really decide if vampires are fantasy or not, but that's another topic all together.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Nighteyes on March 22, 2011, 06:00:45 AM
Stand and It were great, but both had very weak endings.  Stand in particular had a dreadful ending. 

Pet Semetry was very good and very creepy with a superb ending. 

The Tommyknockers was one of the worst books I ever had the misfortune to read. 

Also I find it slightly annoying the way that in each novel he puts one character who resembles himself.  A writer, usually with asthma and a stutter.  Seems a bit self indulgent to me.   
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Shamrock on March 22, 2011, 06:08:10 AM
The Tommyknockers was one of the worst books I ever had the misfortune to read. 

Also I find it slightly annoying the way that in each novel he puts one character who resembles himself.  A writer, usually with asthma and a stutter.  Seems a bit self indulgent to me.   
I know it isn't fantasy but read Misery and you'll see why he became so famous. That book is amazing, the first novel of his I ever read.
Thanks for the warning about The Tommyknockers, it was on my to-read pile but has now been swiftly kicked off. I also find it annoying that all main characters are authors with massive chips on their shoulders. Urgh, I think that's why I enjoyed Dark Tower so much is that it is so completely different from his other work. Although I don't think he could have been more self-indulgent than by making himself a character in the series.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: The Mad Hatter on March 22, 2011, 06:13:03 AM

Um, well, Stephen King's writing is uneven for a reason. He was addicted to illegal drugs for a long time, and he now says that he doesn't even remember writing a lot of his books. He talks about this in his book 'On Writing' which I'd recommend to readers as well as writers.

Wayne aka The Mad Hatter
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Shamrock on March 22, 2011, 06:18:21 AM
I didn't know that! Wow, you learn something new everyday  :) Besides that though with the volume he's written, it's just a case of quantity rather than quality sometimes, even with his newer books.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Nighteyes on March 22, 2011, 06:26:07 AM
Quote
Marge: So, Mr King, what tale of horror and the macabre are you working on now?
Stephen King: Actually, I'm taking a break from horror for the time being.
Marge: Oh, that's too bad.
Stephen King: At the moment I'm working on a biography of Benjamin Franklin. He was a fascinating man who discovered electricity, and used it to torture children and green mountain men. And that key he tied to a kite - it opened the gates to HELL.
Marge: Well, when you go back to horror will you let me know?
Stephen King: Will do.
[writes down a note: CALL MARGE RE: HORROR]
[/i]
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: HotdogMcGoo on March 22, 2011, 10:25:41 AM
I used to really like Stephen King when I was younger.  But if you read enough of his books (I've read a whole lot) you start to see a trend in the storylines where they all play out pretty much the same way.  Some of his earlier works don't fit into this trend, but now I feel as though he writes what  I've taken to calling "pop horror".  Quick, simple stuff just to sell a bunch and make the $$$.

I also really think he was a better writer earlier in his career (perhaps the drugs had a lot to do with this, I didn't know about that either).  The first 4 books of the Dark Towers are better than the last three in my opinion, with the fourth being one of my absolute favorite books.  I actually really liked his ending to the series.  What else could he have done?  You're not going to please everyone and I like the way it left off.

Desperation seems to have been a lot more popular but I actually liked the Regulators better.  It's a strange, interesting novel.  It's also written as Richard Bachman, a surname King used (has used more than once?  I don't know).
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: pornokitsch on March 22, 2011, 02:17:18 PM
I'm a big King fan, but acknowledge he's had some ups and downs.

From the pure fantasy aspect, The Eyes of the Dragon is actually a really good, character-driven low fantasy novel...
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Lyz on March 22, 2011, 04:19:26 PM
I'm a big King fan, but acknowledge he's had some ups and downs.

From the pure fantasy aspect, The Eyes of the Dragon is actually a really good, character-driven low fantasy novel...

The Eyes of the Dragon is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite novels. I remember the first time I read it (I think I was like... 12?), I wrote Mr. King a letter and told him I was super mad about the ending. I hate stories that end with the, "And that's another story, for another time" line.

I've read a few of his other books; I really enjoyed Rose Madder and Gerald's Game, but neither of those are even close to fantasy.

I love his son's writing, as well. I've only read two of his books (Heart Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts, but they were both really good.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: ashleyjbarnard on March 22, 2011, 05:16:32 PM

I know it isn't fantasy but read Misery and you'll see why he became so famous. That book is amazing, the first novel of his I ever read.
[/quote]

Have you agree with you on Misery. I just re-read it about six months ago, and was blown away by how good the writing is. I really haven't liked much of King after "It" (which I also loved). The Shining and Carrie I also love. Loved the first half of the Stand, but then started to lose interest as soon as his villian came into focus. He couldn't hold the tension after that. Don't throw tomatoes at me, but I never could read past the first few pages of the Dark Tower series. There was no finesse to the writing style.

Tommyknockers was indeed odd, but I thought he did a great job with the male lead whose name I can't remember...I keep thinking of him ranting about nuclear plants everytime I read about Japan.

I love On Writing. I've used his query letter model and had excellent luck with it.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: ashleyjbarnard on March 22, 2011, 05:19:26 PM
[[/quote]

I love his son's writing, as well. I've only read two of his books (Heart Shaped Box and 20th Century Ghosts, but they were both really good.
[/quote]

I loved 20th Century Ghosts, one of my favorites. But I didn't enjoy Heart Shaped Box or Horns. And Shia LeBoeuf in Horns???
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Shamrock on March 22, 2011, 06:49:03 PM
I only discovered Joe Hill last year, and read Heart-shaped Box this year. I really enjoyed it though. Thanks for some of your mentions though I love Stephen King so your recommendations will go onto my to-read list. :)
Don't throw tomatoes at me, but I never could read past the first few pages of the Dark Tower series. There was no finesse to the writing style.
Don't worry The Gunslinger sat on my shelf for a long time before I picked it up. It's an amazing and addictive series.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Sanna on March 22, 2011, 10:21:00 PM
I managed to spill soup all over On Writing, before anyone had had a chance to read it. Still, it's got an interesting yellow colour to it now...

I always enjoy reading the first three quarters of a Stephen King book, but have a feeling of impending doom when it gets to the endings. My experience has been that they tend to be dreadful. I switch opinions regularly on whether I want to put myself through another book or not.
I liked the Sky adaptation of Carrie a few years back.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: pornokitsch on March 23, 2011, 09:36:26 AM
I totally agree with the majority above - his endings are always a game of dreadful roulette. I'm trying to think of the ones that weren't horribly let down by supernatural fluffery at the end.... The Dead Zone, Eyes of the Dragon, The Long Walk, The Shining (?), Salem's Lot, Rage... uh... The Running Man?, Under the Dome...

Ones that were absolutely let down by terrible endings: Insomnia, The Stand, Firestarter, Needful Things (WORST ENDING EVER)...

His short stories are almost always worth the effort though. And I do really respect and enjoy his work... I just wish I didn't have a feeling of dread every time I approached the conclusion. (Dread unrelated to the story)
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: HotdogMcGoo on March 23, 2011, 12:28:51 PM
Speaking of his short stories The Mist (that's the name of the movie at least, I can't remember if that was also exactly what the short story was called) was very cool.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: missoularedhead on March 23, 2011, 06:02:39 PM
In my early teens, I read a lot of Stephen King, and then his writing went in the toilet for a while…I think it was after so many bad movies were made of his books, and he started just cranking them out one after another and they stopped being even remotely original.

To this day, The Shining scares the bejezus out of me. Both the book and the movie.  And I liked The Stand…until you get to the ending.  Ugh, what is about King and his endings? Although I will disagree here and say that I thought the end of The Gunslinger series was exactly what it needed to be…

I've not read anything of his in the last several years, however. In fact, the last book I read of his was Dark Tower…has he gotten back into the groove? The book about cell phones didn't interest me at all.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Shamrock on March 23, 2011, 06:25:42 PM
I attempted to read Cell but did not get very far so I have no idea. I'm still working my way through his older works. The Dark Tower ending was very disappointing at first, but after I had thought about it, it was alright. I can't imagine a different ending being better.
Title: Another Stephen King Comment
Post by: The Mad Hatter on March 23, 2011, 11:20:07 PM

To understand a Stephen King book, you have to understand how Stephen King writes.

Stephen King doesn't PLOT.

Most writers plot to some extent. They'll have notes like, Volcanic eruption occurs at start of chapter 10. Stephen King doesn't do this. He turns his characters loose, and asks them where they are going.

Now there's nothing wrong with this. In fact letting your plot over-ride your character is a sure fire way to leave your reader wondering why they bothered to read your book. But having no plot at all can do the same thing, unless you are one hell of a writer.

Stephen King is one hell of a writer. Even when he was bombed out of his skull he was still turning out better work than 90% of his contemporaries. Which doesn't mean that I can read most of his stuff. Quite frankly I can't. Most of his fiction turns me off. His non-fiction though, it's some of the best advice on writing that I've ever read.

But the lack of a plot also explains why his endings tend to be weak. Because really, they aren't endings. You can't have an ending, without a plot.

Wayne aka The Mad Hatter
Title: Re: Another Stephen King Comment
Post by: pornokitsch on March 24, 2011, 08:58:00 AM
To understand a Stephen King book, you have to understand how Stephen King writes.

Stephen King doesn't PLOT.

Awesome.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Funky Scarecrow on March 24, 2011, 09:24:58 AM
For me, King works best when he has constraints; whether they're length related, such as when he decides to write a novella or a short story, or whether they're time related, such as The Green Mile.

It's interesting but of all my favourite King works, very few of them are at the fatter end of novel length and four of them are novellas. 'Salem's Lot, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redmeption, Sun Dog, The Body, The Gunslinger, The Mist, The Regulators and It. I've chosen not to count The Talisman and Black House, two novels I love, since they were co-authored by Peter Straub and there's no real way of telling who wrote what. Apart from Speedy Parker. That's very obviously King. Stevie loves a Magical negro. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_negro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_negro))
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: pornokitsch on March 24, 2011, 10:01:58 AM
Shawshank, The Body and The Mist are three of my favorites as well. I also think The Long Walk, Rage and Apt Pupil are waaaaaay up there. I didn't realize until recently that Rage is no longer included in the Bachman Books, which is a shame.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Lyz on March 24, 2011, 02:44:04 PM
For me, King works best when he has constraints; whether they're length related, such as when he decides to write a novella or a short story, or whether they're time related, such as The Green Mile.

It's interesting but of all my favourite King works, very few of them are at the fatter end of novel length and four of them are novellas. 'Salem's Lot, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redmeption, Sun Dog, The Body, The Gunslinger, The Mist, The Regulators and It. I've chosen not to count The Talisman and Black House, two novels I love, since they were co-authored by Peter Straub and there's no real way of telling who wrote what. Apart from Speedy Parker. That's very obviously King. Stevie loves a Magical negro. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_negro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_negro))

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is another one of my favorites.

All-time favorite short story has to be The Raft. I have no idea why... But I think it's a bloody fantastic (or bloody, fantastic, if you prefer) story. :D
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Nighteyes on March 24, 2011, 02:51:07 PM
In his defence though the ending of pet semetary was perfect. (But he wrote the worst Sandman introduction)
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: pornokitsch on March 24, 2011, 04:15:53 PM
All-time favorite short story has to be The Raft. I have no idea why... But I think it's a bloody fantastic (or bloody, fantastic, if you prefer) story. :D

Did you see the movie? It terrified me as a kid. Having goo eat someone during a sex scene is a terrible thing to do to an adolescent viewer.
Title: Re: Another Stephen King Comment
Post by: Mark Lawrence on April 18, 2011, 11:46:59 PM

To understand a Stephen King book, you have to understand how Stephen King writes.

Stephen King doesn't PLOT.

Most writers plot to some extent. They'll have notes like, Volcanic eruption occurs at start of chapter 10. Stephen King doesn't do this. He turns his characters loose, and asks them where they are going.

Well that's interesting. I've read 'on writing' but either didn't pick that factoid up or have forgotten it. It interests me because in recent interviews I've been saying the exact same thing about my own writing. In fact here's a cut & paste from the interview I did for this site:

I find that if you have a sufficiently compelling character they will gather a story around them as they go. You just need to give them a little push to set them going and then to try to keep up as things unfurl. Generally, as I wrote the first word of any given chapter I had no idea what would happen in the next page.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Shamrock on May 26, 2011, 07:51:49 AM
Just finished The Shining and I really enjoyed it. One of the few times I haven't been able to put a King book down. Anyone else read it? I thought it was really good but I'm glad Kubrick didn't follow the same story line.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: pornokitsch on May 27, 2011, 01:10:05 PM
Just finished The Shining and I really enjoyed it. One of the few times I haven't been able to put a King book down. Anyone else read it? I thought it was really good but I'm glad Kubrick didn't follow the same story line.

I totally agree. Both book and film are great, but I'm glad they're not mirror images.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: betsdavies on July 24, 2011, 02:12:37 AM
King was good early on before his drug addiction took hold.  His books dwell a little too much on torture carnage for me.  I love carnage, don't get me wrong, but if he killed one more dog I could just vomit.  I did recently finish Carrie, however, and since I am a vampire lover intend to at some point move on to Salem's Lot.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Lyz on July 25, 2011, 03:37:54 PM
All-time favorite short story has to be The Raft. I have no idea why... But I think it's a bloody fantastic (or bloody, fantastic, if you prefer) story. :D

Did you see the movie? It terrified me as a kid. Having goo eat someone during a sex scene is a terrible thing to do to an adolescent viewer.

WOAH WOAH WOAH. BACK UP.

There's a MOVIE? HOW did I not KNOW this?! D:

But yeah; that happened in the story, too. Still, one of my favorite stories by him. I think I read that for the first time when I was about 14.

I also really enjoyed The Long Walk and Gerald's Game; I've read some of his newer stuff (Duma Key and Cell) but I just don't find it as spooky as his older stuff.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: betsdavies on August 19, 2011, 09:05:23 PM
Thank God someone else noticed his dog death obsession.  It really got to me after a while.  I like select King.  Some of it--I think the stoned era--I felt like he was masturbating torture all over the page.  Loved "The Body".  Misery of course kick ass.  I also love the fact that while I loved The Shining, Kubrick made the movie his own thing.  His tight, bizarre, terrifying movie worked on it's own.  But I still want to know what all that stuff in the furnace room said.  It drives me nuts.  Meaning I would be possessed, I suppose. 

King's style is uneven.  Even within the same book.  At one moment, he will bring forth a beautiful image.  Then you may slog through several awkward paragraphs.

For all he loves his characters, I also do feel sometimes his dialogue is somewhat stiff. 

So when he is good he is--well I guess good and awful are the same thing with him.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Shamrock on August 27, 2011, 06:46:01 PM
Anyone read Desperation? Friend of mine wants to buy it for me (we're huge SK fans) but is it worth it?
One another note, while browsing the bookshop today I saw the back cover of Desperation had recommendations of the other SK novels to read, or if you had read them that you would like this one. Very clever marketing.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: Toc the Youngest on August 27, 2011, 11:22:29 PM
Anyone read Desperation? Friend of mine wants to buy it for me (we're huge SK fans) but is it worth it?
One another note, while browsing the bookshop today I saw the back cover of Desperation had recommendations of the other SK novels to read, or if you had read them that you would like this one. Very clever marketing.

I liked Desperation.  It's a little odd but enjoyable.  There is also a companion book written as Bachman called Regulators.  Both books are worth a read for any King fan.
Title: Re: Stephen King
Post by: pornokitsch on August 29, 2011, 09:11:51 AM
Neither of those were my favorites, although I liked Desperation a bit more. I thought the experiment was fun though (a "shared world" between "two" different authors).