Reading update: Stephen King’s Revival

In case you didn’t know, Stephen King has a new novel coming out tomorrow (November 11th). He is up to 54 or so books now, which means he has a separate ‘Bibliography’ page on Wikipedia. It also means it’s quite unlikely to find a reader who loves everything King has ever done.

I always say I like King in general. I like his mode of storytelling, his style, his imagination. I also really don’t like some of his books (*cough* Dreamcatcher *cough*). Gunslinger is still one of my favorite books, but I never finished the Dark Tower series because I could not get through the last three volumes.

revivalAnd now there is Revival. It’s a cool story. A young minister comes to a small town, befriends a kid named Jamie Morton. After a family tragedy, the minister delivers a sermon filled with loss of faith in god and is subsequently banished from the town. The novel follows Jamie Morton through his life. He meets the minister again. There is rock-n-roll, and drugs, and terrible dark things.

And yet, I plodded through this book. It might be that it was not dark or weird enough. It might be that the pacing was not to my liking. Whatever the reason, I was not along for the ride. That said, my friend, who was looking for a less terrifying read, liked it. We are just different King fans, I guess. Maybe I should go and finally read The Stand instead.

One interesting thing I noticed is how much of himself King puts in his novels, and in what ways. I’m not talking about meta-writing himself into books (see the later Dark Tower volumes), but more about having characters reflect his worldview and philosophy. In most cases, I don’t even know if his characters think and voice his opinions, but it feels like they do. There is a certain lack of subtlety and palpable desire to work some things out through fiction, especially in King’s later works. All writers do that, I think, but they do it in different ways at different times in their careers. The cool thing about King is that because he has so many novels out there, you can get a glimpse into his mind and decide which King you like best.

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6 comments

  1. You’re exactly right. It comes down to, “Which King am I in the mood for? Drugged-up and wild King? Sober and responsible King? Or post-accident, spiritually reflective King?” There are probably many more.

    Side-note: phone keeps autocorrecting “King” to “Kong.”

    1. Elizabeth Hand reviewed it in the Washington Post today and found it suitably disturbing. Maybe my fiction now has to be really, really uncanny for me to care.

  2. Hmmm. Interesting. I’ve read a handful of King, and the only two I liked were Pet Sematary and Dolores Clairbourne. Cell and Different Seasons sucked, and Insomnia is the first book Ive EVER abandoned. Guess I just need to read the King books along those lines!

    1. I haven’t even read Cell and Different Seasons. The guy has written so many books, it’s difficult to discuss him with others.

      IT is still my favorite of his.

  3. Awesome, you’re reading this already. I’m going to pick it up because the description sounds a bit like classic King, but also not REALLY classic King…if that makes any sense at all. I’m actually happy about that, because I find it really hard to get through his old books.

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