Following is the usual bang-up job NPR does interviewing an author. This time around, Stephen King.
I have this feeling that we as a country really don't appreciate Stephen King. Witness this: I must have deleted the picture, but at Half-Price books, they had an entire box of Stephen King hardbacks for $15. There must have been at least twenty books in there. . .yes, I know. . .his first press runs must be in the hundreds-of-thousands. . .but, do we take him for granted? I looked on the shelves of my personal library and only found one book of his fiction. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It nestled betweein All the Stars Came Out That Night by Kevin King (no relation that I'm aware of) and The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me by Suzanne Kingsbury. No Carrie. No The Shining. No The Stand. . . .
There was a time I stayed home from work to finish a Stephen King book--it was just that good and the pages just kept flying by. . .these were in the days of The Shining and The Stand. . .
was one of the most valuable books on writing I have ever read. . .(please pay no attention to the fact that I downloaded a picture for the audio version). . .you get the point. the subtitle: A Memoir of the Craft. . .
From the book: "By the time I was fourteen (and shaving twice a week whether I needed to or not) the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it."
I only use that passage to point to the fact that rejection is just part of the game. Stephen Kings tells us how human the entire creative process is. . .I was once there he's telling the budding writer, bogged down by rejection after rejection. . .but, those stories are well-known. . .the record label executive who rejected The Beatles. . .all the rejects J.K . Rowling received. . .John Grisham--rejection after rejection. . .A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle being rejected by twenty-six publishers. . .and lest we forget Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell was rejected by thirty-eight publishers. . .
But, I really didn't start this to focus on rejection (sorry, I got a bit off track there).
The truth is, many people seem to be almost embarrassed to admit they are reading Stephen King. And why? Because he is not "literary?" Because he doesn't make you work for it?
Having served on the IMPAC Dublin Awards committee at Cleveland Public Library for seven years taught me one thing about "literary" fiction. It is not all created equal. I read some truly horrible books--not even close to being well-written because the hype machine was going full blast about a book being the "literary" read of the year. There was great suffering. . .we debated over and over as to what was "a Dublin book." I finally declared a Dublin book to be one that required enormous amounts of whiskey to sit through and maybe a loaded rifle near your chair. . .there were good books, also. . .more bad than good. . .The good I remember. . .the magic of finding Chris Cleave's Little Bee at the very last moment one year. . .the always good Richard Russo. . The Road by Cormac McCarthy right on the heals of No Country for Old Men. . .
The bad. . .I will not mention. . .
But, Stephen King? No, we never considered him for Dublin. . .but, in the summer, long after we'd put the nominations to bed. . .we'd all pretty much retreat to other books. . .some to non-fiction. . .some to other writers. . .maybe even some to Stephen King. . .
So, as I stare at the twin bricks of
and Haruki Murakami's
I am truly torn. . .I know I will read them both--I am a big fan of Murakami's writing. . .and people want to know what I think of it. . .
I am drifting toward the King. . .
Because I respect the man that much. . .and yes, maybe it won't be as much work as the Murakami. . .but, the pages will fly. . .and maybe I just need to revisit that 1958-1963 time period again. . .when we lived in four-channel TV land and AM radio ruled. . .I'll get to you Mr. Murakami. . .but, not tonight. . .