• The Best Stephen King Covers

    I talk about Stephen King a fair amount on this blog, and that’s natural. A hundred years from now we’re only going to remember two authors — Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. But one’s had a ton more books, so I thought it would be fun to go through the various covers (at least the ones I read) and find my favorites. For factors, I thought about marketing and being true to the actual content and themes of the book. There are two important things to communicate about Carrie — that this is the story about a girl with telekinesis and its thematically about violent revenge. A lot of covers…

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    The Books I Read: November – December 2023

    It by Stephen King(re-read) I can’t remember what inspired me, but one day I just thought “I should re-read It“. It’s a defining book of both an author and a genre. Two two-part movies have been made about it. It’s an intrinsic part of the cultural zeitgeist. It was Halloween time. A good reader re-reads the classics every once in a while. It’s been about twenty years since my first reading, back when I was just starting as a writer (lowercase w). This time I was able to read it with a more critical eye. The eye of an author, knowing what I know about good writing and about Stephen…

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    My Kindertrauma: The Chocolate Touch

    Covers for books and videos are like car accidents. They’re horrific but you can’t look away. In the video store, instead of looking for something in the family section like I ought to have been doing, I was wandering the horror section, scrutinizing the covers for movies I would never be allowed to watch. Movies like Basket Case, The Blob, The Nest. Book covers were not that different. My mother had a ton of Stephen King books that rivaled the video store. One was a bizarre cover for Cujo that I could not wrap my head around. It was like an optical illusion where you see two images at the…

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    The Books I Read: November – December 2022

    Fairy Tale by Stephen King Look, I don’t think I’m making any grand statement when I say that King can write. We all know that. He’s been writing since the 1970’s and I’ve statistically proven his books have never gone down in popularity or quality, even after getting sober, even after getting hit by a truck, even after being shoved out of a tree by his son Joe Hill. But we’ve all known that King is not sophisticated. He’s not Proust. He’s not “Where the Crawdads Sing” or “The Goldfinch”. Which is fine. King writes for the masses. And that’s fine. I want to write for the masses. I’m just…

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    Was Carrie Justified?

    I was talking with my wife last night about scary movies. Carrie came up. I said didn’t understand what scared her about it because I saw Carrie as a revenge/comeuppance story, not a horror movie. Then she stared at me, horrified. And I asked what I could say next that wouldn’t end with me sleeping on the couch. Because Carrie is a powerful moment in story-telling. Maybe not the strongest, but definitely a pulse. It jumpstarts Stephen King’s influence in horror and he’s no stranger to the “revenge” plot. He also wrote Rage (which literally is about a disenfranchised student taking over a classroom with a gun) and Roadwork (a…

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    The Books I Read: November 2019

    Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman This is an epistolary YA novel that’s meant to accurately portray the life of a young lady in 12XX. She’s not a peasant, but she’s certainly no princess in a castle. She has a nice manor and some servants, but what this girl really wants, she can’t seem to get–freedom. She’s supposed to sew, cook, and do medicine (which involved a lot of herbs), but those are only the in-between times of babymaking. There’s a lot of praying and going to church, as well as playing pranks on others (I think at one point she throws her sewing down the outhouse). Her central conflict…

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    The Books I Read: September – October 2019

    The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein A bittersweet fictional memoir from the POV of a dog. Some people found the POV of the dog annoying, but I didn’t think so. That may be because I’ve read so many “talking animal” novels I’m used to it. The ending is satisfying. But this wasn’t as unforgettable a book as people are making it out to be. Some are like “it changed my life”, but I thought “it’s just another one on the pile”. In this book, you learn a lot about racing. I have to admit it made me appreciate the nuances of the Daytona 500 and Cars…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2019

    Year One by Nora Roberts This is the nicest apocalypse I’ve ever seen. It was advertised to me as a big epic story like The Stand, but with magic. It even has a mystery flu as the apocalypse-causing incident. But The Stand, this ain’t. Where’s the bleakness? Where’s the stakes? Where’s the beef? The blurbs and reviews made it out like the next best thing since Patrick Rothfuss, but really it’s just a standard novel that feels like it belongs on mass market shelves at the grocery store. I was hoping for a unique twist, but it’s underdeveloped. And all you get are a bunch of nice people doing nice…

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    The Books I Read: May – June 2019

    Titan by John Varley As I expected with “classic” science fiction, this stuff is just weird. A group of space explorers (including a set of incestuous test-tube twins) find a Dyson sphere that’s part living, part machine. Inside the sphere, our heroes find giant landscapes, geographical features akin to Avatar’s Pandora, and a war between centaurs and angels (their names for these alien beings). It reminds me of “Jitterbug Perfume” and “The Demolished Man” — critically acclaimed and difficult to understand. And like those books, there’s a lot of unnecessary sex in there. It’s really obvious, like the sex was put in there to sell the book. I’ll be honest,…

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    The Books I Read: July – August 2018

    Firestarter by Stephen King(unfinished) I started it, but didn’t take long to decide not to continue. I’ve seen the movie, so there was nothing here for me but King’s overwriting and quaint New England phraseology. It’s written as an unfolding thriller, but there’s no thrill when you know how it ends. There’s no “this scene was in the book, but not the movie” to add value because it’s a pretty strict adaptation. And it’s antiquated–Vietnam vets and the energy crisis are so far removed from pop culture he might as well be talking about the World War I flu epidemic. I’ve decided I don’t slog though any of King’s early…