A Constant Reader Manisfesto

By on September 22, 2017

I am an avid reader of the fiction and nonfiction of Stephen King. I do not apologize for this. It is a condition. Once I started reading his work—beginning with Carrie three decades back—I became a fan forever compelled to continue reading. I’ve read much: novels, novellas, stories, nonfiction, his forwords and afterwords. I’ve also read his unfinished masterpiece: The Plant.

Why horror fiction, and why Stephen King?

Having discovered the works of Edgar Allan Poe as a youth (as had many of my generation), I was enthralled by horror early. It was natural then—perhaps even inevitable—that I would progress to the (shades of Mr. Mercedes) high-octane fiction of the King of Horror, though at the time I first became aware of his work, he was not a “king”—not even an errant knight, if you will. The potential for greatness, however, was always there.

Why then King?

The answer that comes immediately to mind is this: the fabulous Kingly prose. The prose was (and continues to be) like a blade, honed sharp on both sides. The prose was and is unapologetic, grossed-out in places, memorable in others, and, at its horrific best: creepy. Not just ordinary, everyday, afraid-of-my-own-shadow kind of creepy. But more raising-the-hackles-on-the-back-of-my-neck kind of creepy.

It’s a creepy feeling that once experienced, remains with the reader forever. It’s spine-chilling with a vengeance. It’s scary to the nth degree. It’s unforgettable, like your first crush, or if I may be more prosaic: like the first time you went “all the way.” In this era of “The Walking Dead,” it’s the difference between a fresh corpse and a not-so-fresh corpse that leaks.

And the stories. The stories are always thought-provoking and redolent with human truth.

In conclusion I vow to continue to read and enjoy Stephen King’s work until I have the strength and the breath to do so, or until the world of The Dark Tower has "moved on."

As Salman Rushdie would say: “… I inhabit [my condition of loving King’s prose]. I am trying to learn from it.”


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