Stephen King and the limits of darkness

Keith Johnson

February 3, 2011

King is one of the best living writers. Granted, there's a LOT of crappy living writers. But I'd say he's one of the good ones. He doesn't compare with the likes of Cormac McCarthy, Jonathan Safran Foer, or Dave Eggers, but at least his books are well written, the characters are well developed, and his plot lines aren't contrived.

King is not dead. Books of short stories don't perform well anymore. I'm an avid King fan and I won't touch this because I don't enjoy short stories. Waiting lists are rapidly becoming a thing of the past due to e-book readers like the Kindle and Nook. Wait until King writes another novel, you'll see him then. Even if King is "dead" in readers eyes, his Dark Tower series is his magnum opus. He'll never do better.

Also, you say going from number 2 to number 29 on the bestseller list like that's a bad thing. The book has been out for a few months and made it to number 2 and it's still on the bestseller list despite hundreds of books coming out since its release. Do you have any books on a bestseller list?

And finally, King is hardly horror as he's often misclassified. I've never been scared by a single of his stories. Random pet peeve.

February 3, 2011

I used to read King "back in the day" but it got to the point where I just couldn't take it. I guess my mind was not strong enough to read his stuff and just let it go. It really began to bother me. So I stopped reading him. I think I'm better off! Thanks for the great review. I pray your mind will let it go so the pc&g won't linger. Peace and Blessings to you.

Paul Miller
February 3, 2011

Don't read King anymore, although I've read many, many of his books. From a Christian perspective I often find myself wishing I could 'unsee' many of the things I've seen, some things we subject ourselves to often leave scars in our conscience. My wife and I can both attest to that from horror movies we've watched as youngsters. Pet Cemetery scared the bajeebers out of me! King as horror? It's all from your perspective I suppose; perhaps he's not as horrific as some. Does it lift me up? Better yet, does it lift Him up? I haven't thought of King much over the past few years, but perhaps if one could 'unread' anything...

February 3, 2011

I wonder: perhaps people are just tired with the genre?

February 4, 2011

I remember a children's song that went "Oh be careful little eyes what you see, oh be careful little eyes what you see. There's a Father up above, who is looking down in love, Oh be careful little eyes what you see."

As a child, I remember watching the movie, The Exorcist. The scene of the little girl's head rotating has never been able to be removed from my thoughts.

I have not read any of King's books. Judging from your comments, I can't say I would ever want to.

I'd rather guard what goes into my brain as I'm not as constitutionally strong as you are with what I see or read. Not easy to do but I do the best I can.

Philippians 4:8 "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."

And of course, Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

Thanks for the heads up brother!

February 5, 2011

Hi folks,

I’m an aspiring writer doing a bit of research into the ‘implied religious symbolism’ in the film ‘Donnie Darko’ and if it has any merit whatsoever Christian circles.

My research, so far, lead me to this website, but I became sidetracked completely by this article. I like Stephen King, though I’ve only read about five of his books, which, personally, I find a mixed bag. But my interests as an aspiring writer are to study and learn, in this case, the realm of fantasy fiction, but from a Christian perspective.

Although I’m not a Christian myself, I respect the belief system and your freedom in this world and/or/possibly the next. I just really don’t know about religion as a whole, but I’m willing to listen and learn different perspectives and better myself as a writer.

Getting to the point, I read this current article by Keith Johnson.

To answer the questions posed by Keith; “Has King lost his touch? Has he nothing to surprise us with anymore? Does it, or he, even matter?” I have these thoughts…

King hasn’t lost his touch and never will. Writers of his calibre, by and large, do not loose their touch; it’s built into them as writers and is as natural as breathing air. He has, it could be argued, become complacent; after all, what else has one of the worlds most prolific and leading fiction writers left to prove?

I think King could still churn out the greatest fiction novel ever if he wanted to, but I’d hypothesis that his means (lifestyle) would have to take a serious blow (declaring bankruptcy) for him to produce a novel of Shakespearian credit. Who honestly knows, we can only guess, he maybe secretly planning a story which is his masterpiece (yeah, I know, Dark Tower ended already), but we may not find out until he leaves this life.

Stephen King will always matter and long after we are all gone, his name will live on. I don’t think the name will be forgotten because it has left such an indelible mark on pulp fiction and brought horror and fantasy stories to the masses like no other author before or since. He’s an inspiration to me and should be to all other aspiring writers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the rape/revenge elements of the book. Something hit me when you said:

“The message, if any, is that humans can easily commit evil acts, but their intentions are good. And if the intention is good, the evil is justified.”

What would your feelings be with the novel ‘A Time to Kill’ by John Grisham, a book that in my mind is one of the most abhorrent meditations on rape/revenge ever committed to fiction, yet it goes to the very heart of the American legal system and expressions of freedom etc…

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