Stephen King is hands down one of my favorite contemporary authors – and it's not just because I like the horror genre. In fact, to me, the horror in his books is secondary to King's stories – the stories surrounding the stories, if you will, and his rather haunting prose. But I'll explain more about that in the course of detailing these 7 reasons I love Stephen King.
As I briefly mentioned, Stephen King's way with prose is what really gets to me. For example, I just reread IT for, I don't know, the millionth time or something, and as always, for me it isn't Pennywise who makes the story – although he is wonderful and gruesome. Rather, it's the bond and the love between Bill, Richie, Ben, Bev, Mike, Eddie, and Stan. The way King tells that story, all the little details, is beautiful. You see it again and again, such as in his short story, “The Body,” and in Dreamcatcher.
If I am ever lucky enough to meet Stephen King, I will not ask him where his ideas come from. To me, the answer to that question is pretty self-evident: his imagination. From there the possibilities are endless, but to me, probing a writer about his or her imagination is like trying to get a great magician to reveal the secrets of his or her tricks.
Mr. King is hilarious. There are parts in even his most gruesome books that make me laugh out loud. The humor is somehow better because it's so often surrounded by such horrors, whether they are obvious, such as the s**t-weasels in Dreamcatchers, or subtler, as with old Mr. Dussander in “Apt Pupil.”
This ties into the prose point. King's themes are beautiful, such as the ones surrounding friendship. Sometimes, that theme is subtler – the relationship between Louis Creed and Jud Crandall comes to mind. There are so many more, though, and again, they very rarely have anything to do with horror.
Did you know Stephen King writes poetry? Not a lot, granted, and they mostly show up in his short story collections, but it still counts. Several of them has actually been printed in Playboy. One of his poems is actually one of my very favorites. Called “Paranoid: A Chant,” it is found in the Skeleton Crew collection, and it still gives me the shivers. “I can't go out no more./ There's a man by the door/ in a raincoat/ smoking a cigarette,” is the way it begins – one of the best openers of all time.
Of course you have to research if you want to write. When I talk about King's knowledge, however, I am actually not referring to, say, the things he learned about embalming for Pet Sematary or what he learned about the inner workings of secret organizations for Firestarter. I'm talking about his knowledge of where he's from and the folklore that goes with it – his knowledge of ghost stories and boogeymen, of the Wendigo and the Tommyknockers.
With some exceptions, most of King's stories take place in Maine, or at least in New England. Having been more than a little obsessed with that area even before moving here, I love that – in the same way I love that John Irving's stories mostly take place in New Hampshire, and how Randall Kenan's stories take place in Tim's Creek.
There are probably a dozen other reasons I love Stephen King, but these are the biggest of them. He's one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to my own writing. Are there any other King superfans out there?
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