Stephen King’s name is synonymous with the horror genre. In fact, say the name and the first thing that comes to mind is a talented writer with a penchant to write real and believable characters along a backdrop of a gripping story.
His first novel- Carrie- was published in 1974 and since then, Stephen King has been a brand name for horror. His storytelling has always been impeccable and fast paced making his every book a page-turner.
I remember the first Stephen King book I ever read- Misery. I was probably still young to read it considering the content of the book, but I know I was thoroughly engaged and gripped by the intensity of the plot and found myself dying to know how it would all end. He surprised me and gave a realistic ending- not a fairytale one where everything magically resolves for the benefit of the protagonist. No, this was a story that showed that the lead character would always be traumatized by what he had suffered through.
After I finished reading that, I had to get my hands on more of his books. I real most of his earlier work and watched movie adaptations of those I couldn’t find. I was fascinated by the tales he imagined and then put them down on paper to the point that I aspired to be a novelist just like him someday.
My love for horror is credited to him alone. I was living in a world where Stephen King was not only fascinating me with tales of horror, but also teaching me about the world. The characters he built weren’t one dimensional. They had actual personalities that reflected a real person. I saw myself in some of them and knew people who were like the other characters.
Then came his highly anticipated ‘Bag of Bones’ and I couldn’t wait to read that too. But I was left disappointed. The Stephen King I knew was barely there. His writing was slow paced and it took quite a few pages to learn what the plot was. The characters weren’t likeable and I couldn’t find myself caring about their plight.
I have to confess I skipped through the pages to see if it would get better. There was a gross scene towards the end, a violent one and an obscene one- all of which didn’t make sense to the story. It was as if those scenes were written to shock the readers- not thrill them.
I put it back on my shelf, guilty that it was going to be the only Stephen King book I had not completed reading. Then the next book I read was Cell. The first scene was startling and I thought that Stephen King had finally redeemed himself. I curled up on the sofa, certain that I would be glued to the book until its exhilarating climax.
However, halfway through the book, I started to lose interest. The characters had formed a group to survive the bizarre events that was taking place around them and that was all there was to it. The story had reached a stagnant point and pages after pages, didn’t take the plot forward. Disappointed, the book was returned to the shelf again.
Lisey’s story was next and again the first few pages were enough to make up my mind. After that, whenever I saw a new Stephen King book in the store, I would be wary of being disappointed again.
Stephen King has won many awards for his books, even the ones I didn’t like, but that didn’t change my mind about his current works. For me, he had lost the one thing that had made him the master of horror. His writing patterns became repetitive and his shocking scenes just didn’t make me flinch anymore.
The opening scene would be exciting; one of the characters would be sadistic or perverted (sometimes both), the other character would try to restrain the first one and the plot would be a string of anomaly events that would break the hero’s will to be the person he still is. That is pretty much a regular theme of all his books with vulgar scenes thrown in to spice up the proceedings.
I crave for the books he had written and wish he would return to his former writing style- the one where I would be so possessed by the plot that I wouldn’t drop the book until I had read the very last page.
That would be one of my “needful things”.