It's true...and yet it isn't.
I'm fascinated by the guy, as well as revulsed (he periodically suffers from "trash mouth" and the desperate need to describe weird sex in detail) and frustrated (he's great at characterization and detail, but sometimes shovels his endings in wayyy too fast).
Some of his books have gone way past creepy-in-a-fascinating-way to directly affecting my life. Case in point: His 1987 novel, Misery, about a writer who becomes the pet of Annie Wilkes, his "greatest fan." (King himself admitted that Annie represented the addictions he'd had for years, including alcohol and drugs.) For anyone who's a writer, just the idea of being kept hostage and forced to write has a nasty attraction (time to write! no interruptions!) at the same time it repulses ('ol Annie's going to chop my foot off if I don't make the characters do what she wants! Why would they...they never do what I want them to do...)
I read the book shortly after I had Daughter #1, not realizing until halfway through that Annie was a nurse at Boulder Community Hospital. Where she went on trial for murdering babies in the neonatal section. Where both our daughters were born.
Talk about chills down the spine. I even did some checking -- was there a nurse put on trial for this? But apparently, King made it up. (whew)
I also had a love/hate affair with King's Needful Things...where you can get anything you want, but you have to pay for it by doing "favors" for the owner.
And, of course, there's The Stand.
All three have been made into tv series...although I think I prefer The Langoliers and The Shining (which King has been working on a sequel to), instead of any of them. (Shawshank Redemption -- yes, King wrote that, too! -- is also great.)
One of King's very best books, though, is also one of his least-known: a nonfiction look at himself and his work, called simply On Writing. It also covers his 1999 accident, which left him in pain ever since.
Roger Ebert observed: "A lot of people were outraged that he [King] was honored at the National Book Awards, as if a popular writer could not be taken seriously. But after finding that his book On Writing had more useful and observant things to say about the craft than any book since Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, I have gotten over my own snobbery."
Stephen King: one amazing, messed-up guy.
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