Gaiman does King

I like Stephen King, but I haven’t read many of his books. To date, I have read The StandOn Writing and The Dark Tower series. (To be fair, that’s nine books. Yet, relative to King’s prolificness it’s not very many). Of these, my favorite is On Writing, which is a non-fiction book about King’s writing methods, his thought process and advice for would-be scribes. His fiction tone is detached and observational. It has flashes of irony and humor, but it’s mostly anecdotal. For On Writing King is, I think, at his best. The tone is declarative. He has natural expression, almost like an old uncle talking, which is comforting, advisory, inspiring.

As for King’s fiction, I just don’t care for his characters, save for two. The first is Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger of The Dark Tower series. There is a film in the works with Ron Howard directing and Javier Bardem in the lead role. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, as rumors of a film and TV series began at least five years ago. There is still no definitive release date, but until then there’s a new Dark Tower novel to whet my appetite. I preordered it from Amazon and it arrived last week.

I said there are only two King characters that I care about. It’s really only one. The other is a trick answer. Beside Roland Deschain, the only other character that is compelling to me is Stephen King himself. This is a trick answer because King wrote himself into the fifth and sixth Dark Tower books. The real Stephen King is fiercely protective of his privacy. He is unpretentious, humble and direct. He does not do a lot of appearances or interviews. When he does, it’s almost always great. His interviews always leave me wanting more. His latest is no exception.

Neil Gaiman is another writer who has carved his own slice of the quirky pie. He interviewed King in February for the UK Sunday Times Magazine. Since “the Times keeps its site paywalled,” Gaiman–himself a rebel cut from the same cloth as King–decided to post the entire raw version of the interview on his own website. This is a delectable piece. You will enjoy it.

Or not. I did.


  1. Larry Ish says:

    You would probably also like King’s “Danse Macabre.” It’s an very interesting study of the horror genre in general and how it has been influenced and influences the American culture.

    • Larry Ish says:

      It’s been many years since I read the book but I learned a lot from it and his commentary is pretty spot on.

      I didn’t know before reading “Danse” how the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was a commentary on McArthyism or how movie studios early on did not like ending horror/sci-fi movies on a bad note. (The original ending of “Invasion” does not end with the authorities finding pods, proving the main character’s story, and, my favorite, how “X the Man with the X-ray Eyes” originally ended with the main character saying, “I can still see!” after taking out his eyes.)

      The book also introduced some of the best short stories and story tellers that I had never heard of before like Harlan Ellison (“Hitler Painted Roses” one of the best ever) and Flannery O’Connor (“A Good Man is Hard to Find” also one of the best ever).

      Basically, I learned early on that true horror usually does not have a happy ending.

      So, needless to say, “Danse Macabre” was one of my most memorable learning experiences. It was like taking a literature/movie class with a most entertaining teacher.

      (Bringing back all these memories, I may have to re-read it now.)

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