1. Ciara jaramillo

    Ciara jaramillo New Member

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    Tell Me About Your Favorite Stephen King Books

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Ciara jaramillo, Mar 7, 2019.

    I have been an avid reader of Stephen King for about a year now and I really enjoy him, I would like to know what you guys like about him and your favorite memories of his books and when you discovered him.
     
  2. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Contributor

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    I think he's better at short stories than novels. That being said Nightmares and Dreamscapes or The Skeleton Key may be the best bets for his work. The abridged version of the Stand I found alright.

    I will have to say for his novels, the body of them are written well, but the endings are almost always badly put together. There are moments in the middle of his novels I think are very well written, but they get lost in the clutter, or are offset negatively by the ending.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  3. Zeppo595

    Zeppo595 Senior Member

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    Carrie is close to being a masterpiece. But he ruins it with the ending.

    As EFMingo says, this is a very common theme with King. His set ups are amazing, that's why they make such good movies. And he usually advances the plot well. But his final thirds are always disappointing.

    The Stand was great, except ...that ending.

    Misery was quite good.

    I struggled to find Salem's Lot much more of a chore to get through.

    Skeleton Key had some compelling stories for sure.

    The Tommyknockers - worth a read if you're interested in how genius can get lost in overwriting and need editing. It has some stunning stuff in it. But it's a total mess. It gave me some hope that this managed to get published at a certain time in my life where I was silly enough to forget that King was a bankable name at this point in his career.

    I tried The Shining. And never liking the movie much, I also found the far too dragged out plot a bore in it's novelised form.

    Despite not loving it, I have to admit Misery really influenced my writing. I started using the italicised first person in third person narratives after I read that book. Plus, I studied closely how he was able to extend scenes lengthwise from a premise that looked really limiting. I should study more books like this. But I read this one at the beginning of my writing life, and the mood just took me back then in a way it hasn't since.
     
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  4. Aceldama

    Aceldama Senior Member

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    I'm not a fan of horror. I don't like slasher movies. Death metal sounds like garbage to me. Halloween is a joke of a holiday etc.

    One day after I had moved to Oklahoma I found a Stephen King book in a box of a bunch of random items. Out of curiosity I started to read and found myself pretty engrossed. I think he has a fantastic way of creating very living characters. I never got to finish it cause it got water logged one day. But I am reading the deadzone right now and again, he's displaying his character building to be second to none.
     
  5. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Contributor Contributor

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    I read a lot of his earlier work, like Salem's Lot, Carrie, Pet Sematary etc. I stopped though at Misery.

    My favourite is Salem's Lot, but that's probably because the film scared the crap out of me when I was about 9. It sill creeps me out now.
     
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  6. Raven484

    Raven484 Contributor Contributor

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    Salem's Lot was the first book I read outside of school. I read it non-stop for two days. The Talisman was probably my second favorite.
     
  7. OmniTense

    OmniTense Active Member

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    King's stuff can be really good. But I feel a lot of his fame outweighs his talent. Not that he isn't talented and I can't claim to be able to do what he can with characters; but I've caught him doing the same thing too many times. His short stories are beyond compare, though. They hang with the best short stories in all of horror literature.

    If I had to pick a favorite to pick up and read, it'd prolly be the only one that I have a hardback copy of: The Shining. IT is a classic, but it's not one that I've found warrants a second read.

    As for short stories:

    The Bogeyman,
    Graveyard Shift,
    The Ledge,
    Survivor Type,
    Strawberry Spring,
    Uncle Otto's Truck


    The Bogeyman remains one of the most frightening stories I've read in all my life.

    -SIN
     
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  8. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Active Member

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    King's best writing, in my personal opinion, is when incipient sadness/loss underlies the immediate conflict.

    Lisey's story is damn sad and haunting. It's not hard to see the metaphorical connection to mental illness, which gives some serration to the knife; who doesn't know love someone who's struggling?

    Talisman/Black House, Duma Key, and Dreamcatcher are quite good as well, with the latter being on the pulpier end.

    The Dark Tower has an underwater lake of this doom throughout, which is probably why it's my favourite book series.

    Tommynockers was an oversight. It should not have been published IMO. Unless you can appreciate it in some form meta fashion, in which case it's a bit like Kerouac's Big Sur: "Depression and Mortal Struggle, The Book."

    I personally like most of his endings, because while sometimes seen as an unsatisfactory betrayal to the reader, they are always very loyal to the story itself. Specifically, The Stand is a fantastic example of this.
     
  9. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Banned

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    Never read a book, like it watch the movie version.

    So maybe red rose, or whichever one had the Haunted Mansion
     
  10. Moon

    Moon See ya space cowboy... Contributor

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    His short works are best. Night Shift had many good ones.

    Longer works....eh.... Salems Lot was good. Should've ended sooner than it did, but that seems to be the norm when it comes to Kings works.
     
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  11. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    I'd have to give it a toss up between Apt Pupil and The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet. Of course, I like Doctor Sleep if only for the glaring error he made, proving that even the big names, the ones who can sign a cocktail napkin and have it be a best seller, make mistakes. (And just how vital judicious research can be.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  12. Richach

    Richach Contributor Contributor

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    I have only read The Body / Stand by Me. Rita Heyworth and the Shawshank Redemption. I always avoided reading his books as I thought he just wrote horror. I am continually surprised at how many well known stories he has written. The good thing is that I have plenty more to read.

    It is interesting what some of you folks say about the final thirds and endings being weak. I guess when I watched both IT films I found myself thinking the same thing. The two books I have read are both Novellas and I think they were amazing all the way through.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
  13. Mish

    Mish Senior Member

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    The Mist is my all time King favorite. Although it's technically a novella, part of his "Skeleton Crew" collection.
     
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  14. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Modern Dinosaur Staff Contributor

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    I love the open ended finish of that one. I think that one is definitely worthwhile.
     
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  15. SSW

    SSW Member

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    My first Stephen King book was mr Mercedes. It sucked. Boring i didn't like the characters either. The writing was good though.

    Second book was on writing loved it.

    3rd was cujo i liked it a lot

    Will read his short stories next:)
     
  16. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    My favourite has got to be The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, cracking reads and a really good series that overlaps between worlds. The characters are all written well and very believable so you can't help but fall into their world and feel attached to the journey. It's one of the more ambitious novels with wide scope and was one of the first series I read as a kid. Really enjoyed it so definitely recommend if you like King. And the ending (I think) is actually quite good. It definitely splits people but for me personally I enjoyed it more the second time.
     
  17. love to read

    love to read Active Member

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    My favourite is Pet Sematary. but I've finished The Outsider two days ago and was positively surprised.
     
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  18. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I really liked Pet Sematary as well, and the movie was surprisingly decent. I especially liked Fred Gwynn in it (Herman Munster).

    But my favorite King has to be the first thing I read by him, a short called Jerusalem's Lot, which was like a prequel I believe to Salem's lot. It really struck me powerfully. I don't remember what book it was in, wonder if I still have it?
     
  19. Vaughan Quincey

    Vaughan Quincey Member

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    I liked the movie very much, even the rock song at the end. There is nothing like a truck smashing a baby, while the parents watch hopelessly. I loved the end, when the wife returns and embraces him, ready to strike.

    I began to read him at the best age 13-14. Can't tell you in which order, but Carrie, It, The Dead Zone, The Shinning and Misery were all read during the summer. Even without the darkness and flashlight, they chilled my room down to goosebumps degree.

    For a while I became obsessed with the Dead Zone's film, the music, Christopher Walken, the plot, just everything. The book was good, but the film...
    And then you've got The Shinning, where a great book is turned into a movie that has nothing to do with it. Visually striking -it's Kubrick after all but , for the love of Mike, facts remain facts.

    My all time fav Stephen King moment was his answer to the question 'Why do you write such nasty horror stories?'
    King answered 'What makes you think I have a choice?'
     
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  20. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    Did you ever see Stephen King's self-directed miniseries of The Shining? I tell ya what, it makes Kubrick's version look like a complete masterpiece (which I believe it is, but it used the original novel only for inspiration). I remember when I first saw Kubrick's Shining, I had never read the book, and while I was puzzled leaving the theater, I had the sense there were things going on under the surface that I was only partially aware of. Decades later I discovered Rob Ager's youtube channel, where he does deep analyses of movies, in particular Kubrick, and then I began to see some of what I had sensed under there (and my appreciation of the movie increased quite a bit, though not due to the way it tells a story but to what Kubrick was able to secrete inside it).
     
  21. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    I also love that Kubrick called King from England to the US in the middle of the night (for King and his wife) just to ask him "Don't you think ultimately stories about the supernatural are optimistic, since they posit that death isn't the end?"
     
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  22. Vaughan Quincey

    Vaughan Quincey Member

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    I had no idea such product existed, but if it ever did... Hard to believe a writer like King -with such obsessive focus, could ever do any moonlightning with any chance of success. King would stop writing for one single reason: Death -and knowing him, I'm not even sure of that...

    On the other hand if ever Kubrick wrote a book, I'm not sure it'd be any good. He spent his life making films, not writing.
    On that sense, King and Kubrick represent two sides of the same coin.

    You see, that was my problem with the film, I saw it shortly after reading the book.
    During the first ten minutes my mind went like this...
    Gorgeous BUT... This is not The Shinning, no, this is not the book I read, what is this, has Kubrick even read the book? Was he on drugs? What is HE doing? What is Jack doing? No, that's not Jack... What is everyone doing, why??? This is too silent... That's Wendy???? ... No, this is not the book, no way, no way...
    At some point you either stop watching the film, or switch your brain off and enjoy the photography, cut, visuals... Basically take it as another horror film, have no expectations at all.

    Kubrick took the story, together with useful parts of the plot, and shot one of his films, that's all. The character of Jack, for instance, would have been great, quite enjoyable, had I not read a completely different character on the original book.
    It's not about Nicholson, he was talented enough to have done it well. It was Kubrick's changes of the main character, the compression until the point of pulverizing first, then reconstructing a different image, Kubrick's idea -or whomever wrote that script, can't remember right now, I don't think this person would argue with Kubrick, so in a way the script is Kubrick's.
    You can live with changes on plot, you need them anyways, as long as the characters are recognizable. Not the case here - All of Jack's psychological subtleties, the fight against himself, the slow descend into madness... All lost. Too compressed, simplified on a cheap way, pulverized and destroyed.
    Even if that doesn't matter to you, when you reach the icy, cold end, if you have read the book, you'd feel disappointed.
    How the book ends is linked to the whole subtext. It was a glorious, right end for the story, cathartic for the reader, and I'm not alone on this.
    Thefinal images of the book beat by far what I saw onscreen. Yes, it is your own imagination, but words were still read, describing and painting concrete facts nobody can argue with.
    This cathartic experience at the end is killed on Kubrick's film. And he put ice cubes on it. Ice cubes. I thought I was overreacting -being myself a writer, huge bias, until I discussed this with other King's readers. Seven in ten would tell you the same. The other three are diehard Kubrick fans, which is fine by me.

    Even if Stephen King doesn't excel at characters, he does have a way to convey alcoholics. One of the most enjoyable sections of Doctor Sleep was the portrait of Danny. I don't look forward to the film. The idea of enduring a contemporary cgi orgy, plus flacid, interchangeable music and poor editing... I'd rather enjoy another book.

    I'll check it out, thank you.
    In spite of my opinion, and being far from academic film criticism, I won't ever deny Kubrick's film were interesting. A Clockwork Orange and 2001 still could be identified somehow with the books they came from. The Shinning, the way I and many others see it, including Stephen King himself, could not. Hard fact to chew.
    We are biased writers, we love books. To take the book side comes as a second nature.

    Oh, I can totally picture that one... But where does this comes from, King himself or someone close to Kubrick, after his death? They are/were two of a kind, trying to work together, as highly talented as stubborn.
    No wonder they couldn't stand each other, none of them would move, or concede an inch for the other.

    The last film adaptation I enjoyed was the 22/11/63 miniseries. I haven't read the book yet.

    Has any of you read On Writing?

    PS: As an afterthought, if Kubrick and King would have at least cared to sit down and talk to each other in a reasonable way, I'm sure they'd have come up with a different film. After years, or maybe even decades, but it would have happened. If Kubrick fans would have enjoyed such film is a good question...
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2020
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  23. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    Kubrick has always made his own films, with his own agenda, and loosely bases them on existing stories or has scripts written and revised endlessly so he can develop his film his own way. If you would watch an bunch of Ager's videos about Kubrick you'd understand what he's doing (at least on certain levels, I don't think anybody understands all of it). He was never interested in making sensible films with good plot or story and good characters, he's after something else entirely. He just found some things in King's novel that could serve as hooks on which he could hang his own strange and disturbing film, for which he also studied Freud's ideas concerning the Uncanny. He's definitely not a filmmaker interested in doing a recognizable adaptation of a book to please the fans of the book. In fact one thing Ager points out is that in the novel Jack's Volkswagen is (either yellow or red, I forget), but in the movie it's the other of those colors. Along the highway Nicholson drives past a wreck involving a tractor trailer and a Volkswagen of the appropriate color. Kubrick is essentially saying "Look Mister King, I wrecked your story and substituted my own".

    Oh, I just realized—I don't know how many of his Kubrick videos are on his channel for free viewing anymore, he does have some but many of them will be paid downloads now. The guy's gotta make a living somehow.

    I haven't red On Writing yet, but it's in my cart @ Amazon.
     
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  24. Vaughan Quincey

    Vaughan Quincey Member

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    I have a hunch you are either a film maker yourself, so you can probably take a controversial statement from a Irving Singer's book. He wasn't talking about Kubrick, but in my view, it applies to a certain degree

    In view of his manipulative intent, Hitchcock’s work might be considered the product of a Frankenstein or proto-fascist who is extremely talented in arousing emotional responses by means of film technology. One may even think that the artistic purity Hitchcock sought is inherently dehumanizing.

    In other words... Have you ever stabbed a blonde to death while she takes a shower, after spying on her undressing, while savouring your countless *insert adjective here* thoughts?

    We all have, yes.

    Examples of films with a freudian subtext during the last century would fill entire books. These films have remained on the collective memory for reasons we might or might not approve of. What is not to be denied is the set of tools they employed. They were (almost) identical.
    Times and the cultural atmosphere have changed. Freud's attempts to create a model of how the mind operates have served a purpose, same as the ideas and philosophies of his contemporaries. They didn't watched television, witnessed what came after the second world war, Vietnam, AIDS, the celebrity culture, the new role of advertisements in our lives... In short, the filmmakers influenced by Freud and the rest came to you with their vision, heavily influenced by limitations beyond notions of artistic merit.

    In the case of psychology this becomes even more evident, since it's supposed to be science, not art.

    To explore such visions can be rewarding, they still might describe something recognizable, to a certain degree. On the other hand, one should keep in mind the context surrounding those products. Parts of them might not seem relevant, or even credible right now.
    Freud was accused of infantilizing his patients. Hitchcock of dehumanizing. The link is there. A film constructed with such tools might be worth on the artistic sense, but an awareness of the foundation is essential to put these works in context. Otherwise, why bother making any more films, or researching psychology?

    Kubrick is brilliant when painting with sounds, I haven't heard anyone like him while watching other films. But my position as spectator when considering the visual aspect, and this freudian aspect you mention, is almost identical as when I'm watching the most memorable Hitchcock films. I've got a strong, intense déjà vu... In Vistavision to be more precise.

    That's brilliant.
    I've just thought of ant idea for a script 'When Stanley met Stephen'. A black, surreal comedy, Roadrunner-style. You could even use Kubrick's Shinning Style, with no dialogues, just the macabre, the gore and the slapstick... And superpowers, of course.
     
  25. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    We're getting pretty far off the subject of King, and now you're even veering off the subject of Kubrick. Hitchcock a proto-fascist? I don't know, that sounds pretty far-fetched, like the author had a political agenda maybe. Oh, Hitch definitely was a cold rationalist, like Kubrick, and like a few more of my favorite directors (Joseph Von Sternberg—he might very well have been a proto-fascist or maybe a communist, I'm not sure) and for authors JG Ballard. These guys put everything under the microscope, weigh it and quantify ot and subject it to the most rigorous intellectual analysis. It makes for some fascinating results. Not something I'd care to read or watch all the time, but definitely cool now and then.

    Kubrick wasn't influenced by Freud as far as I know, he just read his famous paper on The Uncanny as research going into The Shining. Yeah, Freud was wrong about a lot of things, but he was also the founder of modern psychotherapy and one of the creators of the modern world. If you've ever read it, it's pretty amazing, and easy to see how Kubrick used it in the making of The Shining.

    Anyway, to b ring this back on topic, a few more King stories I enjoyed were well, The Shining, Salem's Lot, and Dream Catcher—all with the caveat that the first two thirds of the books are amazing and then it falls apart. I also enjoyed Doctor Sleep, though to be honest, even though it hasn't been all that long, I can barely remember most of it. And I don't think that's entirely my crappy memory's fault...
     
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