Stephen King

1086242_35259126I have had less time to read lately since I have been so tired. My brain is tired, my body is tired, and when I get home I just want to “be”. Still, I have found a few minutes here and there to read, and right now I am slowly making my way through The Stand. It’s not the first Stephen King book that I have read, and it probably won’t be my last. I enjoy his stories, but sometimes his style throws me off.

When he references music, I never know what he is talking about. Lyrics and bands that make their way into his work always force me to stop and scroll through my brain to see if I know of them. It’s extremely rare if I do. When he uses those strange and awkward phrases and sayings, I usually don’t even know what they mean. I can get the gist of it, but they aren’t anything that I have heard or read before.

And the characters! There are always so many characters! It’s refreshing, in a way, since we aren’t just focused on one or two people the entire time. It gives us and the characters a little break from each other and it adds to the story by allowing it to be told from multiple (and I mean multiple) viewpoints. I do find it hard sometimes to keep track of them all, even the main ones. I am about halfway through the book and sometimes when I just read a first name in a new chapter I have no idea who that character is from earlier in the book. I can’t always tell if it’s a new character or not.

I believe that Stephen King books (I’m not sure about his short stories, I have a plethora of them on my “to buy” list) require attention and study. They aren’t books that you can read casually. You have to have the time to be fully devoted and interested in order to fully enjoy and appreciate the work. The reason why I have trouble with remembering the characters is that I sometimes go a day or two or three without having the time or the drive to read anything. I spent the last week in the office reading and writing, sometimes I need to get away from the words for a little while.

I know that there are other books like that as well. They aren’t for light reading, and they aren’t for the faint of heart. They require attention, dedication, and effort. I started the latest book when I had less to do. Now I am finding it hard to maintain focus because I have to use so much brain power before I can remember what happened last, which character is doing what, and the general feel of the story.

Do you feel the same about Stephen King? Do you have any other books that you believe require study?

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35 thoughts on “Stephen King

  1. Although I don’t read him as much anymore, Stephen King is still one of my favorite authors, The Stand being one of my favorites from him (and when you’re finished reading the book, you should check out the TV miniseries. Its really well done). And you’re right about having to examine his work, because it is really good stuff. In fact, one of these days I have to read his short stories again. I might be able to improve my short stories that way.

  2. I haven’t actually read much Stephen King, but Terry Pratchett also does quite a lot of multiple viewpoint stuff. Because the Discworld series is connected, minor characters in certain books play major parts in others, and main characters in other books have walk on roles in the next.

  3. His short story collection ‘Full Dark, No Stars’ is quite easy going for his work… I haven’t read many but I’ve worked my way through ‘Insomnia’ a couple of times, managed a couple of chapters of ‘It’ (before I got into revision a couple of years ago for GCSE’s and haven’t ever managed to get back to trying again… I’ve got some of his ‘Gunslinger’ books but haven’t read all of the ones I have. You’re right about needing to concentrate on his books, but I think it’s what makes him so good.

  4. I’m not a huge Steven King fan – though I admire his skill and style. I just tend to get too frightened by even the tamer of his ideas because they take on a life of their own once you let them grab hold in your imagination.
    One of the authors I love is Mary Doria Russell – her work always requires extra attention and a few wikipedia moments, but it is so worth it!
    SImilarly, Jasper Fforde writes hilarious, rollicking books (about a world inside of books!) – but with so many references to literature that I have to dredge my brain or a friend’s brain from time to time to keep up. You can follow the plot no matter what – but you miss some of his best jokes if you’re not on top of things.

  5. I love Stephen King. I have never found it hard to keep up with his characters, but I think it’s because I think like Stephen King does. I read his Dark Tower series and loved it. My favorite book by him is Desperation. Such a great book.
    I do find that he likes to ramble a bit and sometimes there is more information than what the reader needs. I have been known to skip a few paragraphs here and there when reading Stephen Kings works.

  6. Stephen King’s short stories and novellas really are some of his best work, particularly the ones that have nothing to do with the horror genre. Different Seasons is probably my favorite, and three of the four stories in that book have been made into decent to great movies (Apt Pupil, Stand By Me, and The Shawshank Redemption).

    As for keeping track of characters: currently going through A Dance with Dragons, so I feel you. What makes a book like that even more of a pain is that many of the names are fantastical, and chapters following said characters are few and far between. Watching the Game of Thrones tv series concurrently while reading the books has helped reinforce a lot of this stuff in my mind, though.

    • Yes, Martin is confusing for that too. I’ve read all of those so far and sometimes I even have trouble following the show. They did really well with the show, I think. It doesn’t differ too much from the books.

  7. I feel that way about books in general these days. I just accept what is until it passes. If not then, it may require discipline and then I’ll make sure it’s no too hard of a book. Your post makes me feel better, at least I’m not the only one!

  8. King’s early works are a thing of art! While I haven’t enjoyed his more recent work as much, he still has more talent in his pinky finger than I will ever have.

    • I really liked Under The Dome, but I didn’t enjoy Carrie. For me, it just depends on the book and my mood. I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of everything he’s written though.

  9. I enjoy Stephen King for the suspense he manages to bring to even his longer works, like The Stand, It and The Shining. He is, without question, a masterful storyteller. I’m always in the mood for Stephen King, although like you, I don’t I don’t like all his books. Delores Claiborne, for one. Time to devote to reading is really a problem, especially when your work involves a lot of reading. I don’t have that problem since I’m retired and always manage to find time to read. Being drawn into a good story, no matter the length, and out of my present reality is a real treat for me. Oh, and about those music references. . .King’s a sometimes rock n’ roller (The Rock Bottom Remainders) so music is something special for him. I’d suggest listening to some of the tunes he references; you might find something you like (and a little bit of insight into King. Enjoy!

    • That’s true. Perhaps I will, although I’m not much of a music person to begin with. I’m sure that as I get settled I will find more time to read. The content that I have to read at work is quite dull at times, so I miss my usual reading.

  10. Of the nonfiction genre, C.S.Lewis way up there. His “Mere Christianity” I initially read as a teen, some many decades later, his writing boggles my middled aged mind LOL!!
    A few months ago, I read “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”, a delightful, biblical allegory.

  11. Reblogged this on Tina Bausinger: Southern Mom and commented:
    A great post from a fellow Stephen King fan. I don’t agree with him on his views about Carrie, or his idea that The Stand miniseries is good–(shuddering to think!), but I found this article fun enough to share.

  12. I haven’t read many, but I have the short stories book “Different Seasons” of Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, which of course was adapted into one of my favorite movies of all time: The Shawshank Redemption. They do deviate a little in the movie. It also has the story The Body, which was adapted into the movie Stand By Me, another favorite. I think you’ll really like the short stories and I recommend starting with those.

  13. right now I’m reading ‘Duma Key’ and like you , I’am often lost in the mix of strange phrases and odd references. the characters are also sometimes hard to keep up with .

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