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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written exploration of writing & memoir..., 2 Sep 2001
This review is from: On Writing (Paperback)
Having grown up on Stephen King- 'Salem's Lot', 'The Dead Zone', 'Pet Semetary', 'It'& 'The Stand' were big favourites (and still are!). I had gone off him around 'The Tommyknockers'. Discovered other writers. Came back and was unimpressed by 'Needful Things'& 'Gerald's Game'. Read others. Came back to 'Insomnia', which was good (if a bit overlong)& his 3rd collection of short-stories (always a source of gems...). Read other authors, discovered alternate worlds, went to University, got a bit snobbish about texts that weren't Camus or Nabokov (or whoever). Started having good memories regarding King's work. Re-read 'Thinner' (for some reason), then read 'The Green Mile' (I had started reading the episode editions, but lost track of them due to a bout of hedonism) & then 'Hearts of Atlantis'. I couldn't get away from it- Stephen King is an excellent writer. He might entertain & shift units to those who haven't read Achebe or Joyce (or whoever is in vogue within the realm of literary study...). But he has something...
And that something is on show here- in this look behind the curtain. In this 'How to-' book and a whole lot more...
The first part takes in King's formative years- frequent readers will recognise parts of 'The Body'& 'It' (amongst others)in some of the portraits. Here we have autobiography blended with the cloud of remembrance- fiction protects the actual...One of the most moving parts here is the recall of the influences for 'Carrie'- it took me back to school, where I could see the people who didn't fit in. I didn't bully them, but probably added to it by making fun, going with the herd or just ignoring them. I hope they're flowers now- rather than beneath the earth as the people here are...There is also a lot here about King's hard times- life wasn't always so easy. He had to work hard to get where he was- and finally it was down to good fortune & commitment. King concedes if he had been as busy as his wife,his writing career might not have been as fruitful.
The second part tells you about writing- tips & examples are given; this will be of interest to King's fans (how he constructed these worlds we live in) & those who wish to write (not forgetting those in both camps). Intriguing is the 'influence' for 'Misery'- and a depiction of it's original end (which, thank God, he managed to avert). This section is writing at its best, laying out rules & advice for those who wish to write.
The final section takes in the 'interruption' of King's near fatal crash- and his slow recovery. Here, it seems like another hurdle for King to transcend (and this he does, by finishing this very book).
There is also a reading list- of some of the books he has read over the past few years; the one's I've read I feel much the same about. The one's I haven't are names to add to the list of books that I intend to read...
I don't know if by reading this book (or the equally good, if a bit more 'establishment' 'The Creative Writing Coursebook')that everyone who does so will become a King,or a Tan ,or whoever. My usual complaint about 'How to Write a Novel/Short Story'-books is that you have never heard of those who have written it. So, what can someone who you have never heard of say to you- who is on an equal footing?...This book is one I will come back to- and proof that King is a very good, if not excellent, writer. Ultimately, this book comes from a deep love of the craft of writing- the sense of vocation Dennis Potter talked of. If you love books, then this book is for you...
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