Long Live the King

In my last post, I mentioned a car ride to visit my grandparents. I don’t remember if it was for Christmas, even though we would always visit for Christmas. It was a three hour drive from the Cities to Alexandria, and I do remember riding in the back seat and being bored. Somehow the conversation turned to me not being able to watch my favorite television show.

“It’s only a cartoon,” my sister Pam said.

Only a cartoon? I went on to explain how great this cartoon was. It had an ongoing story that dealt with love and war. Characters actually died. It wasn’t just any cartoon.

Pam was reading The Eyes of the Dragon, by Stephen King, and she proceeded to start reading out loud from the book.

“See,” she said. “It’s only the first few pages and people are already dying.”

I told her it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t ready to articulate that the death of an undeveloped character as back story wasn’t really comparable to the dramatic death of an established character. Still, the book seemed interesting, and she let me continue reading it.

It was one of the best books I had ever read, even though I wasn’t really old enough to appreciate it properly. I learned later that King had written this book in response to his daughter not wanting to read his work, so it is unlike most of what he has written. But my interest was piqued.

Some time later, when my sister was reading It, I was first in line to read it next. Then came The Stand. I remember enjoying It, but when I was reading The Stand, I felt like it was the greatest thing that was ever written.

When I was in high school, I heard about the Bachman pseudonym. I checked the school library and there were still books there listed under Bachman. I checked out The Long Walk and read it in one sitting. The end was heartbreaking. Years later, when a friend of mine was complaining about The Hunger Games being a ripoff of The Running Man (another Bachman book), I thought to myself, if it’s mirroring anything, it’s The Long Walk.

I read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from Different Seasons before they made the movie. This was another favorite of mine. The Library Policeman from Four Past Midnight was sufficiently scary. I have also read ‘Salem’s Lot and The Dark Half, as well as Pet Cemetery.

When I read Gerald’s Game, I really didn’t care for it at all, and this probably turned me off to Stepen King for a while. But when I heard he was writing a hard-boiled crime novel, I found myself a copy of The Colorado Kid and quickly devoured it. When the book I wrote turned up shorter than what a proper novel should be, I took some solace knowing that it was similar in length to The Colorado Kid.

I’ve been meaning to read Under the Dome for the last five years or so. I finally got around to it last fall. Great storytelling, but so many unfinished narratives. Still on my list to read, Duma Key.

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