My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s such a funny thing when you tell someone you are reading Stephen King. Eyebrows arch and the voice pitch is tight and high when they respond “Oh, really?” You know what they are thinking.
One of the last King novels I read was “It”. Winter break, freshman year of college, 1987. I had the flu and this terrifying and intoxicating story filled my feverish nights with horrific dreams. I had already worked my way through the King oeuvre during junior high and high school and after “It”, I lost my taste for blood-spattered spills and thrills. In fact, King’s are the only I’ve read of the horror genre. It’s never been my thing.
But Stephen King deserves a category all his own. He always has. He is a freakishly brilliant writer. That he has made a name (and fortune) terrifying generations of readers will probably always keep him apart from the scions of literary fiction, but no one, no one can can deliver the goods – the story, the characters, the pacing, the originality-like SK.
I didn’t know much about what SK had been up to since “It”, until I read “On Writing” last year. I suffer my way through books by writers about the art and craft of writing, but this one – a combination memoir and fiction-writing instructional – I couldn’t put down. King shows us it is the story that matters. He tells us that writing what you know is a rotten old chestnut. Rather, you should write what you want to read, what you love to learn about. So, he succumbed to his intellectual and emotional destiny and set out to write the best horror/speculative/fantasy fiction he could.
11/22/63 brings me back to the writer that I discovered in The Stand. A dense, detailed, thickly-plotted “What if?” There are heaps of reviews if you care to learn more about the plot, the characters, the drama. I won’t do that here. It’s not horror, so don’t let that possibility scare you away. It is a fantastic read with characters who will pull at your heart and suspense that will hold you fast to the page.
First-rate writing from a stand-up guy. “I just want to tell you. I’m your number one fan.”