I have something embarrassing to admit.
Up until very recently, I had never read a Stephen King novel.
I know, I KNOW. Stephen King is just so… ubiquitous. Every morsel he writes (and there are many) has been adapted into a film, television series, or interpretive dance. Many of these adaptations are now classics in their own right. But still, I just never felt compelled to actually pick up one of the actual books and start reading. I’m going to blame the terrible cover designs.
I am now currently making up for lost time. Last summer I read every one of Neil Gaiman’s novels (awesome), so this summer I’m plowing through as many Stephen King books as possible. Doing a little research, The Stand was universally regarded as one of his best novels, so I started there. I found the longest, most extended cut-est version of it and went to town. And holy hell, have I been missing out. The Stand is an incredible book. It clearly comes from the Vonnegut school of telling the audience everything and it works incredibly as the entire world burns down and is built anew. I’m not going to go into much detail here, because The Stand is not really the book I want to talk about in this blog post.
The book I really want to talk about is the next book I read in my King marathon, the one I really wanted to check out in the first place, his non-fiction work on writing suitably called On Writing. Part biography, part instruction manual, part recuperation from being hit by a car, this book is a quirky little volume that I highly recommend to writers. Stephen King has a working man’s attitude towards writing, where writing is hard work that requires sitting your ass in front of keyboard even when you’re tired, not in the mood, whatever, and pounding something out just to get it done. It’s the same philosophy I try to live up to, so it’s heartening to read about it from one of the greats.
Other things I learned from On Writing:
-Adjectives are evil
-Stephen King was hit by a car
-I really should start submitting things to literary magazines
-Stephen King does not like being hit by cars
-A writer should read like its her/his damn job (a good reminder)
-Stephen King is still a little mad at the guy who hit him with his car
It’s an inspiring, rather quick read (especially for Stephen King), so I highly recommend any aspiring writers out there to check it out. Finishing On Writing, I moved on to the first Dark Tower novel, The Gunslinger, which is strange little book, but fun. Right now I’m working my way through the second Dark Tower novel and I’m still not sure where the hell this is all going, but I’m certainly enjoying the ride.
In other things I’ve been reading, I’ve been steadily wading through the The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. If you’re interested in every single damn diplomatic exchange between Nazi Germany and every other country in existence in pre-WWII Europe, this is the book for you. Also, the cover is a giant swastika, which along with chapter titles like ‘HITLER TRIUMPHS’ makes this a particularly awkward book to read on the subway. I got into this thinking I would get a good rundown on WWII era military history from the perspective of the enemy, but now I’m just sticking with it out of some misguided stubbornness. It does make for a good book to fall asleep to though.