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I am standing up in the water's edge in my dream
I cannot make a single sound as you scream
It can't be that cold, the ground is still warm to touch
We touch, this place is so quiet sensing the storm

Red rain is coming down
Red Rain
Red rain is pouring down
Pouring down all over me

                           Peter Gabriel
                           'Red Rain'.

    Imagine yourself reading late at night. Maybe it is storming outside, maybe it is merely still and humid, and dark with no moon and obscured starlight. And let's say you are either alone or whoever you are with is sleeping in another room, or another part of the bed. And what you are reading is a tale of horror. A really, really well written one; a tale that sets the atmosphere just right, that paces itself perfectly and that springs a horror on you at just the right time. Something you always found scary. Perhaps something that haunted your dreams from a way back when you were a child and very susceptible to the terrors that came in the night.
    Suddenly the familiar creaking of your house doesn't sound so familiar anymore. Adult though you are, the shadows seem more menacing, the comfort of well worn possessions go away, and the unexpected noises startle more than they usually do. It is hard to avoid nervously glancing around; not that you think the monster has really come out of the pages, no, but what if it might have come. There is that little chill down the back of the neck, like rubbing alcohol dripped there with an eyedropper. Then the book becomes very hard indeed to put down, no matter how frightening it is - the monster has to be read to its conclusion.
    And then, if the book is really good, you remember that feeling, in a deep down way. In a way such that you can re-read the story, and no matter what the setting still remember that inner feeling. That chill, even if you are walking around in the middle of a hot spring day in bright sunlight, still is there. Or its ghost is. The hot day, the park and the people recede and some part of your mind is back reading your horror tale and utterly absorbed, being a little scared and part of your mind enjoying being scared that way.

Come below the fold with me, if you dare. . .

    Untitled

The above image is the cover, as faithfully as I can reproduce it using my very limited computer graphic skills, of the edition of 'Salem's Lot' by Stephen King, that I first encountered shortly after it came out when I was a teenager. In a way, the image doesn't do justice to the impact of the cover which is meant to be totally black except for the drop of very red blood coming from Susan's lip. And it is Susan Norton on the cover, of that I have no doubt; the doomed heroine and girlfriend of the main character, Ben Mears. . . who encounters Barlow the Vampire in the darkness of the cellar of the haunted Marsten House.

But before I get into the novel, I have to relate why I am diaring this, especially as it is near-Summer, Memorial day, and we should all be thinking of picnics, and grills, and jumping in a lake (we all love our lovely lakes, just like Mitt Romney tells us we should). Well, aside from my contrarian nature which really couldn't care less about all that, I had first read the novel as a teenager, as I said, and then went onto other things. . .although I never forgot it. But I lost the paperback some time ago, and now here I am, a middle aged dude, having seen a few real-life horrors in my time, wandering around a community fair in a park on a bright sunny day not too long ago. In the park was a pavilion and in one part of it, the Capitol Area District Library was giving away old books; really, just giving them away. And on top of a stack I spied, yes, the same paperback version of "Salem's Lot" that I remembered reading. Well I picked it up and starting walking around and reading from the middle; next thing I know, the park, the sun, the people and the lovely Mitt Romney lake had vanished and I was back in the creepy small town of The Lot reading in amazingly pleasureable horror as the vampire comes.

That is the definition of a gripping read: it pulls you in and makes you finish. That is especially the definition of a good horror novel. It should frighten you. Especially when young; it should scare the snot out of you. And Stephen King does have that ability as an author to write really good horror. Yes, there is "The Shining" "The Stand" "Pet Semetary" and "It" - masterful creepers all - but if pressed, I think my favorite is 'Salem's Lot'. If pressed, Stephen King says it is his favorite too: In 1987 he told Phil Konstantin in "The Highway Patrolman" magazine: "In a way it is my favorite story, mostly because of what it says about small towns. They are kind of a dying organism right now. The story seems sort of down home to me. I have a special cold spot in my heart for it!" That Mr King could write such a novel (his second one, btw) at the ripe old ages of 25 to 28 only impresses one further and tells us that King possesses both the ferocious talent of a great writer - one who kind of made popular literary fiction 'grow up' as it were - and a deep connection to the wellhead of primal terror buried in all of us, like the bottom of a deep black well in the basement of our mental house.

Here is King, again, on one of the novel's inspirations, from his masterful work on the entire field of horror Danse Macabre.

   

"Not that the past doesn't supply grist for the writer's mill;of course it does. One example: The most vivd dream I can recall came to me when I was about 8. In this dream I saw the body of a hanged man dangling from the arm of a scaffold on a hill. Rooks perched on the shoulders of the corpse, and behind it was a noxious green sky, boiling with clouds. This corpse bore a sign: ROBERT BURNS. But when the wind caused the corpse to turn in the air, I saw that it was my face - rotted and picked by birds, but obviously mine. And then the corpse opened its eyes and looked at me. I woke up screaming, sure that the dead face would be leaning over me in the dark. Sixteen years later I was able to use that dream as one of the central images in my novel 'Salem's Lot'. I just changed the name of the corpse to Hubert Marsten."
I can tell you that the image is a terrifying one in the book, and although the novel is not primarily a haunted house novel, you can see from that wherein lies the germ of The Shining which was. In fact, in The Shining there is a very scary scene of a character confronting the corpse of a long dead woman, lying in the bathtub where she killed herself years before. He not only shudders at the memory of the horror when he sees the ghost; he quickly represses the memory of the terror when the dead lady gets up and starts coming after him.

Which leads us to my preferences and thoughts about the vampire genre in general: It can be freighted with all sorts of themes, adaptable to many timeless aspects of human existence, particularly sexual ones. This was a feature not only of Dracula, the prototypical vampire tale (and also of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's 'Carmilla' which preceded and influenced the tale). But they don't really do much for me, and as a rule, I don't like them. You can get off on the teenage sex of the 'Twilight' series or the "Vampire Diaries if that sort of thing appeals to you, or the nihilism of 'The Lost Boys' if you wish; Vampires have even become cartoon children's characters, like on Sesame Street and selling breakfast cereal. There is even a cartoon of one in my daughter's Clifford the Big Red Dog Reading Book. I however, prefer my vampires the old fashion way: their function is to scare you, like any good undead creature should.

OK, even for me there are exceptions But lets keep focused here and concentrate on the most satisfying frightening aspects of the vampire legend: that they come from the grave, that they hypnotize you and make you invite them in, that they will make you one of them, and they can become as dust and go through small openings, and levitate at will. They are, properly, creatures of the devil, coming from a time before electric light banished the shadows from all.

I will show you fear in a handful of dust

                                                       T.S Eliot  
                                              The Waste Land

                                                       

    So let's get to Salem's Lot, Stephen King's contribution to the Vampire Novel, in my view the best and most frightening one out there, the best because it is the scariest. It is sort of a modern retelling of Dracula, set in a rural town in Southern Maine - and here's where I have to pause and praise King, because the novel feels like rural Maine. The characters talk like rural Maine, even if their individual stories sound a bit like Peyton Place. But it doesn't matter, the inhabitants of Jerusalem's Lot (for that is the name of the town) sound right, and it is the fact that the characters are fleshed out as people that gives the horror of what will befall them such punch. Into this town comes the protagonist, Ben Mears, a writer who briefly lived in the Lot as a boy - and has the experience in the Marsten house that King described: seeing the ghost of the dead man hanged and come alive when trespassing in the abandoned house that the dead man owned. But he is not the only one who arrives that fall: The Vampire does as well, although first we only see his creepy familiar, Straker [a familiar is a mortal that assists a supernatural being] who prepares the town for the coming of the Vampire, named Barlow.
   This familiar, Straker, charms the villagers, of course, so they do not seem to suspect him when a small child goes missing. His disappearance is written in a way that will resonate with anyone who has ever walked through the woods at night as a child. And soon after that his older brother dies of a very mysterious anemia. And then others in the town start coming down with what feels like daytime flu and fatigue, and evil dreams in the night, and then start disappearing.
    Naturally one person in the village learns of the vampire, an old schoolteacher named Matt Burke who is the Van Helsing of the novel. How does he realize the Vampire has come? Because he hears it. He has invited a former student of his, Mike Ryerson, home after noticing him in a bar looking very wan and pale:

   

He was bled almost white
    No sound from up the hall, Matt thought: He is sleeping like the stones himself. Well, why not? Why had he invited Mike Ryerson back to the house, if not for a good night's sleep?, uninterrupted by. .  .bad dreams? He got out of bed and turned on the lamp and went to the window. From here one could just see the roof tree of the Marsten House, frosted in the moonlight
    I'm frightened
    But it was worse than that; he was dead scared. His mind ran over the old protections for an unmentionable disease: garlic, holy wafer and water, crucifix, rose, running water. He had none of those holy things. He was a nonpracticing Methodist. . .
    The only religious object in the house was -
    Softly yet clearly in the silent house the words came, spoken in Mike Ryerson's voice, spoken in the dead accents of sleep:
    "Yes. Come in."
    Matt's breath stopped, then whistled out in a soundless scream. He felt faint with fear. His belly seemed to have turned to lead. His testicles had drawn up. What in God's name had been invited into his house?
    Stealthily, the sound of the hasp on the guest-room window being turned back. Then the grind of wood against wood as the window was forced up.
    He could go downstairs. Run, get the bible from the dresser in the dining room. Run back up, jerk open the door to the guest room, hold the bible high: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost I command you to be gone--
    But who was in there?
    Call me in the night if you want anything
    But I can't Mike. I'm an old man. I'm afraid
    Night invaded his brain and made a circus of terrifying images which danced in and out of the shadows. Clown-white faces, huge eyes, sharp teeth, forms that slipped from the shadows with long white hands that reached for. . .for. .  .
    A shuddering groan escaped him, and he put his hands over his face
    I can't. I am afraid.
    He could not have risen even if the brass knob on his own door had begun to turn. He was paralysed with fear and wished crazily he had never gone out to Dell's that night.
    I am afraid
    And in the awful heavy silence of the house, as he sat impotently on his bed with his face in his hands, he heard the the high, sweet, evil laugh of a child -
    -and then the sucking sounds.
Let's have a visual

Photobucket

Heh heh, thought I'd do that. As I said earlier in, I like my vampires scary. Notice the creepy atmosphere, the timing, the description of what terror really feels like; that;s how you write a horror novel.

    Anyhow, Matt convinces the writer, Ben Mears of the reality of the Vampire; they manage to convince one or two others and then, again, Dracula-like, this little band forms a counterforce combatting a very real evil that is preying on the town, as the inhabitants keep on disappearing. One of the members of the group is a boy who is there because he manages to survive an attack from the child vampire who had earlier attacked Matt Burke's houseguest. And keep his sanity; how would you take it if you were woken up by the eerie voice of what used to be your friend, floating outside your window, dressed in the casements of the grave and calling for you to join him in his dark embrace for all eternity?

    But there is not a complete resemblance to the Bram Stoker novel. No, King is too good for that (good artists borrow, great ones steal, says Picasso and damn right he was). I'll not spoil the novel for those who haven't read it (and I hope everyone reading this does), but let's just say that they don't fare, perhaps, quite as well as the protagonists in Dracula. There are things that cannot be saved, as in any good horror story. And what I will say is, rural towns in Maine are not quite as resilient as central London, even during the nineteenth century.

                                                   

Sleep of Reason

    The dream of reason brings forth monsters

                                                     Francisco de Goya

What are the real life implications of fear? If someone asked me what was the purpose of warping my brain with stuff like Stephen King, and Tales From the Crypt, and the Original Dracula (of course) and 'The Night of the Living Dead'? Especially now that I am older myself and when watching modern cartoons with my daughter I have actually been known to say - So help me God, this is true; I hope she'll forgive me  - "This bizarre stuff is going to warp your brain, you watch too much of it".

   Well, I do believe it differs in a child and an adult. In a child, the sense of fear can be salutory. It opens the mind and I think nourishes the imagination. It provides the child with a rudimentary moral compass, and I think a healthy skepticism (it is generally not as well remarked as it should be that a staple of horror tales everywhere are adults and authority figures not believing the horror until it is too late). It gives a bit of self-empowerment, even if only noting at the end of the scary movie or TV show that you have come out of it intact.

   But in adults, the same fear can be corrosive. It can dull the mind and blunt the skeptical facilities. It can paralyse action, and, if it devolves into blind panic, can often cause one to do exactly the wrong thing. And, as events from the Salem Witch Trials (get the resonance?) to the modern Tea Party demonstrate, fear, like viruses, is contagious. It can even make one a follower of the modern day Vampire. I think it significant, incidentally, that the way the familiar in 'Salem's Lot first gets into the town is by bribing the local unscrupulous businessman with a title to a rich land deal. Such is the way in which the Devil tempts his way into the society of humanity

And that is scary. It should scare you and every person in the U.S who still remains human. That someone with the soul-less thirst of a vampire actually has the chance to become President of the strongest nation on earth, complete with nuclear triggers, predator drones, and an army of the brainwashed who will do his bidding. Brrr, shiver.

Sleep well, kiddies

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Mon May 28, 2012 at 08:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  My Favorite Is (14+ / 0-)

    Gabriel García Márquez.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Mon May 28, 2012 at 08:12:50 PM PDT

    •  100 Years Of Solitude? Loved it. (5+ / 0-)

      When I first read it, I was ten. Made a big impression on me. My mother hadn't read it yet but thought it was ok. She was repeatedly shocked when she finally got to read it...today we all laugh about it. In the age of the internetz, the definition of 'adult content' has become somewhat fuzzy...

      But I LOVE Stephen King as well. BTW: My GF says his name really isn't pronounced Stephen as in ~ Colbert, but rather like Steffen. Anyone know whether that's true?

      "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

      by aufklaerer on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:40:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stephen King is my all time favorite author (22+ / 0-)

    And the best book ever is The Stand.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Mon May 28, 2012 at 08:27:19 PM PDT

    •  oh, yes! when i first read it - i stopped (14+ / 0-)

      EVERYTHING i was doing until it was finished - read from cover to cover with the brief collapse into troubled sleep - only to awaken to the page where my hand still gripped the page.

      the teevee series captured some of the mastery of the book, but only as a teaser!

      a solid recommend from me for "the strand"

    •  Oh, reading The Stand (8+ / 0-)

      the first time: I had a summer cold.

      Yikes!

      I'm a Ripplearian: I don't know; don't really care; let there be songs to fill the air

      by Frankenoid on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:30:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you haven't read The Dark Tower series... (12+ / 0-)

      ...you are doing yourself a major disservice.  I've read most, not all, King books and I strongly believe this series has been his best work.

      People I've talked to tend to read book one (The Gunslinger) and get turned off.  It is the only slow point in the series, but it is also a necessary prologue as will become clearer when the full story unfolds.  I swear to you, once you read the first chapter of book two (The Drawing of the Three), you will complete the entire series and love it.

      Mitt's foreign policy: Double Guantanamo, with cheese.

      by Rich N Mdriems on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:56:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My mom gave me an amazon card for my birthday.. (8+ / 0-)

        And the first book I bought was "Wind in the Keyhole", the new Gunslinger book (Book 4.5 he says for those who wanted to know where it fits in the series). That was Sunday morning, I'm 79% finished with it as of when I went to bed. I actually bought two Stephen King's, that one and "11/22/63", which I will start next.

        I also bought a vampire book, but it's an Urban Fantasy Vampire book, and the Vampires are actually, mostly, the good guys (though conflicted and terrible good guys). The newest book in the Cassie Palmer series, "Hunt the Moon" by Karen Chance. I admit, I've gone from afraid of Vampires to... entranced by them. The Sookie Stackhouse books only helped that on the way (Eric, yum).

        I do remember when I read "Dolores Clairborn", I started it while taking a nice long bath on a winter's day. I kept thinking I'd get out at the end of the next chapter.... only, there are no chapters, it's a stream of consciousness book. My bath ended up lasting all day, and I finished the book before I got out. My boyfriend at the time kept asking "are you ever getting out?" "Yeah, yeah, when I get to a good stopping point." There were no stopping points. I love Stephen King.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:24:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You know, interestingly enough (8+ / 0-)

        I have never read the Dark Tower series. Maybe that can be my summer reading

        An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

        by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:34:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  READ IT! NOW! (6+ / 0-)

          If King is your favorite author, you have no choice.  As King has described his work, the Dark Tower series encompasses literally everything else he's ever done.  You are missing a good portion of the story if you have missed out on the Dark Tower novels.

          In fact, you are even missing out on a good portion of the story from Salem's Lot if you haven't read the DT novels.  Salem's Lot is woven into the DT story in a major way.

          One warning though, once you've started, you cannot stop.  You will become a "Tower Junkie" like the rest of us, constantly rereading the series and rereading all of King's other works looking for connections. ;-)

          In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

          by Cixelsyd on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:02:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dark Tower (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Avila, Wood Dragon, JVolvo

            is the first book I wanted to quit reading. But I stuck with it.
            I love all of King's books.
            I just got done listening to IT. I remember reading it in my 20's and slept with the light on for 2 weeks.
            Salem's Lots scared the bejeebus out of me.
            I am listening to the Stand now.
            I did listen to 11-22-63. It was interesting, but i disagree with the ending.
            Koonzt's earlier books were really good.
            My favorite was Watchers, because it is a Dawg story.
            Great diary

            OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

            by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:15:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I've posted this elsewhere before, but (7+ / 0-)

          I think that you need this here:

          Photobucket

          Oh, and probably this as well:

          Photobucket

          Pro-Occupy Democratic Candidate for California State Senate, District 29 & Occupy OC Civic Liaison.

          "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky

          by Seneca Doane on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:21:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah I thought about putting that picture in too (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JVolvo, Seneca Doane

            But I thought using this as a link is funny - sort of as an easter egg reward for people when they actually click through. Having said that, Seneca, I think I can use these in a future diary!

            An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

            by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:34:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  so it should be (0+ / 0-)

        read in order?  you know, i so want to read this and like it but just have had a hard time with The Gunslinger.

        •  The Gunslinger (5+ / 0-)

          is short enough to power through. Also, if it's been a while since you tried it, get the new revised version.   King was REALLY young when he wrote the Gunslinger and when he was finally wrapping up the DT saga, he went back in 2004 and revised and re-edited the Gunslinger.  Reads a lot quicker now.  

          You do need to read them in order, because they are all in chronological order and read like one long novel.  King has likened them to his version of Lord of the Rings in that respect.  The Gunslinger has to go first, because it sets up some important plot threads that won't make sense in later books unless you know the back story.  By the beginning of Book 2, things really pick up though and you should be well on your way.

          Plus, if you have read most of King's other novels, you'll be amazed at how everything he's ever written ties into the story he is telling in the DT in some way, some major, others incredibly obscure, but still there.  

          In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

          by Cixelsyd on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:58:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agree, read the revised Gunslinger edition (5+ / 0-)

            However, that book is short either way.  I know plenty of people who call themselves King fans who tell me they started The Gunslinger but didn't like it and it turned them off from going on to the rest of the series.

            Each one who I convinced to get through it and read book two came back and told me how right I was.  The series is a roller coaster ride from the opening pages of book two on.

            Wind Through the Keyhole can be read after Wizards and Glass, or you can wait til you finish like the rest of us had to :)  Either way, it stands on its own.  A story within a story within a story.  Loved it.

            Mitt's foreign policy: Double Guantanamo, with cheese.

            by Rich N Mdriems on Tue May 29, 2012 at 11:09:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  "Wizard and Glass" had the most amazing (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Black Max, Wood Dragon, Cixelsyd

        love story...never thought of King as someone who could write one like that.  But it was so central to who Roland was, and it framed much of way he behaved.  It was hard not to fall in love with Susan Delgado too and want to ride the plains of Mejis with her.

        A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

        by jo fish on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:02:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  no one ever mentions king's humor (13+ / 0-)

      One of the most underappreciated qualities of King's writing is his humor.

      His best line is in The Stand, when a character who is a musician receives an offer to cover "Hang On, Sloopy":

      Larry at last lost his patience and told the monster-shouter that, given a choice between recording “Hang On, Sloopy” and being tied down and receiving a Coca-Cola enema, he would pick the enema. Then he hung up.

      That quote was my email sig line for months.

    •  For me it was not even the story (8+ / 0-)

      It was character development. I sort felt like I really knew Stuart Redman and sat around a campfire with him and Glen Bateman debating the future of civilization. I really wanted to know someone who would turn of the gas pump instead of  run away from the sight of a car heading for the gas pumps.

      The introduction of Franny Goldsmith and the way she was dealing with pregnancy in a new world and burying her father at the same time. I could actually see her house in Ogunquit, Maine, smell the salt in the air and I thought I knew exactly what she looked like. It was Katherine Ross at the time.

      Nick Andros and his relationship with the sheriff gives me goose bumps all these years later.There is he magic of Tom Cullen and the reality of Larry Undrewood who starts off in my own neighborhood in the Bronx.

      Never was I so hooked on an ensemble and the story didn't even start yet. I felt like I identified with everyone in some respect and had friends in mind who identified even more with each character. My boss at the time was a dead ringer for Randall Flag. It was sort of like everyone I ever knew was in this book and I was going to follow them through the apocalypse.    

  •  I haven't read all of Stephen King (8+ / 0-)

    but Salem's Lot was the first one I read.  Had the same paperback you reference.  It was my favorite of his books that I read.

    Sometimes the magic works, sometimes it doesn't.... (then it's on to Plan B or more duct tape).

    by Aunt Pat on Mon May 28, 2012 at 08:39:31 PM PDT

  •  Salem's Lot (14+ / 0-)

    Stephen King is a terrific writer.   I can't say that I have loved everything of his that I have read.   But there are several of his books and stories that I find to be truly remarkable.  And Salem's Lot is most definitely one of those.

    Salem's Lot was my first exposure to Stephen King and I read it over the course of a few nights one late October many years ago.  I lived alone that autumn and I must admit that there were times when I found myself averting my gaze from my darkened windows lest I see....well you'll just to read the book and find out for yourself.

    Like MichiganChet has said one of Salem' Lot's best features is King's portrayal of the life and characters of a small town.

    "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." - Sinclair Lewis

    by Bob Duck on Mon May 28, 2012 at 08:47:42 PM PDT

  •  Ha ha (19+ / 0-)

    Summer of my junior year I stayed up all night reading The Exorcist in an abandoned hospital. Won a $20.00 bet. It left emotional scars.

  •  Addendum (8+ / 0-)

    I just found out that William Peter Blatty is a big pro-life asshole so now I'm not scared of his stupid book any more. (WARNING: Link is to FOX.)

    •  Not a surprise if you remember that the story (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edrie, Avila, Louisiana 1976, Matt Z, Aunt Pat

      was about a Catholic priest.

      "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

      by Susan Grigsby on Mon May 28, 2012 at 09:51:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Stephen King is Progressive (11+ / 0-)

      And indeed, politics sometimes seeps into his work, most notably in The Dead Zone. He has said this in interviews and supported Obama. While there is essentially no explicit political references in 'Salem's Lot, there is that implicit small town conservatism that is exploited by many (now as well as then) on the cynical right wing leadership.
          One can certainly see a lot of the Lot becoming teabaggers, had not Barlow gotten them first

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:38:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He's not shy about (12+ / 0-)

        expressing his sentiments:

        The U.S. senators and representatives who refuse even to consider raising taxes on the rich—they squall like scalded babies (usually on Fox News) every time the subject comes up—are not, by and large, superrich themselves, although many are millionaires and all have had the equivalent of Obamacare for years. They simply idolize the rich. Don’t ask me why; I don’t get it either, since most rich people are as boring as old, dead dog shit. The Mitch McConnells and John Boehners and Eric Cantors just can’t seem to help themselves. These guys and their right-wing supporters regard deep pockets like Christy Walton and Sheldon Adelson the way little girls regard Justin Bieber … which is to say, with wide eyes, slack jaws, and the drool of adoration dripping from their chins. I’ve gotten the same reaction myself, even though I’m only “baby rich” compared with some of these guys, who float serenely over the lives of the struggling middle class like blimps made of thousand-dollar bills.

        We must use what we have
        to build what we need. -Adrienne Rich

        by Xapulin on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:45:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Under the Dome (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snoopydawg

        i believe King described as the Bush-Cheney years.

        •  Loved Under the Dome... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snoopydawg, Avila

          but it was one of the few of his I wouldn't allow my son to read. He's  not a big horror fan anyway, but more "adult themes" in Under the Dome than most of his books, and creepy ones at that. I don't mind adult themes, but I started reading King at 9 years old, can't do that with this one.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:05:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Avila

            I don't understand what you are saying. Elaborate, please?

            OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

            by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:19:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Stephen King (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Avila, snoopydawg, 207wickedgood, JVolvo

              mostly glosses over sexual situations in his books (he doesn't go into intimate details), which makes it relatively safe for kids to read, so far as that goes. The horror and such of course it depends on the kid.

              Under the Dome has necrophilia situations, which, at least for me personally as a parent, makes it one I'm not comfortable with giving to a kid, even some high schoolers.

              "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

              by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:26:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  yeah, totally agree (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FloridaSNMOM

                that was really over the top and gratuitous.  i liked the book but stopped reading and skipped some pages around those parts.

              •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

                that was very disturbing. Other then that, I loved that book. I listen to books more then read since I walk a lot.
                Have been walking a and listening to books since '89.
                Have listened to UTD 3 times now.

                OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

                by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:06:47 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I can listen to a book (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mythatsme, JVolvo

                  if I've read it before, if not, I tend to miss things. I'm a visual learner, not aural. I may even have a borderline audio processing issue.  Now if I've read it before it's not an issue because I know the details if I zone out or miss something.

                  FloridaSNDad on the other hand, being legally blind, 'reads' most of his in audio, unless it's short and then he bumps the font WAY up (luckily something he can do on his Kindle).

                  Sometimes though we will read a book together. Put the text to speech on the Kindle for him and I'll read along with it. We've had a lot of good evenings spent that way. I used to read to him, but a lot of days I don't have the air for that any longer (due to my COPD), so this works better.

                  "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                  by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:18:54 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  He says horror is inherently conservative (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Black Max, Dvalkure

        He says horror, like conservatism, is basically "I'm okay, you're okay, but look over there arrggh." I thought that was pretty funny.

  •  oh, yes - stephen king! (11+ / 0-)

    he is one of my inspirations.  he was being interviewed about how he wrote and, for the first time, i understood my own writing "style" - he said he starts and it is similar to automatic writing - he reads it to see what he's written AFTER he's done.

    the material "comes" to him - and, from his interview, he reminded me of "automatic writing" - where one "channels" the material.

    his eyes were wide when he was describing the process - he seemed as much in awe as the interviewer (and me).

  •  egads! how could i have missed "salem's lot" - (10+ / 0-)

    i thought i'd read all of king's work.

    must...
    buy...
    book...

    (headed over to amazon - back in a bit...)

  •  okay, mc - now you've done it! (8+ / 0-)

    next week:  bram stoker's dracula!

    (i've only read it 20+ times - directed it as readers' theatre twice unc-pbs and for opening of new student union theatre).

    best "thriller" i've ever read - but DO NOT download from amazon free - the book is absolutely MANGLED in the last chapters by sloppy transcription!    grrrrrrrrr.....

    more blood feast next week - now back to searching for copy of salem's lot!

    •  You are so in for a treat (7+ / 0-)

      Read it on a dark night. Try glancing out the window from time to time

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:42:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Stoker's Dracula (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edrie

        was in part written for The White Council of the Dresden Files, so that the people of the world could understand that the Black Court Vampires were real, and how to kill them.
        Wiped out most of the Black Court.
        The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is another outstanding series.
        Not as dark as King. But fun.

        OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

        by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:21:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  oooh! elaborate? sounds very interesting... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          snoopydawg

          do you have more links or should i just "google" the"black court".

          i LOVE tie-ends.

          the book is one of the best psychological thrillers i've ever read - the format is brilliant.

          •  Hard to explain (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM

            but in Dresden's World, there really are things that go bump in the night. Vampires: Black are the Dracula ones, Reds are sort of the same, but they can wear a mask and pass as mortals. White are succubus that feed usually thru sex.
            But the White Court are supposed to be the 'good guys' that help mortals.
            They wanted the world to know about the Black Court so they had Stoker write the book.
            You really have to be a Dresden fan to understand.
            There are 14 books out now.
            I listen to them and James Marsters did the 13, then the last one, they switched authors. Bad timing.
            If you want a good fun series, check them out.
            Another favorite series is the Sword of Truth by Goodkind.
            They are also all out so you don't have to wait.
            I googled Black Court,and it took me to the Dresden Files.

            OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

            by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:55:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  cool! i'll definitely add them to the reading (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              snoopydawg

              list.  and i love series (GOOD ones, that is...).

              looking forward to reading dresden.  thanks!

              •  Enjoy (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dvalkure

                I see your list all the time on the WAYR. Some of the books people find interesting, is interesting to me.
                But those 2 I mentioned, especially Dresden are good. He even had a short lived series on SciFi, but as usual, they took it off.
                They take off all the good shows anymore for reality tv.

                OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

                by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:09:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  question for the King fans (5+ / 0-)

    in Duma Key, what exactly was Perse, and the creatures on her ship?  vampires, or something different?  this is my favorite novel of King's, but i've never known a word in English to describe Perse.  "shapeshifter" is close but not precise.

  •  The Passage (7+ / 0-)

    by Justin Cronin.  loved it.  loved all 1,200 pages.  not as terrifying as King's Salem's Lot but if not for King, perhaps no Passage.

    •  You know the next book (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, Avila

      comes out in November, IIRC?

      I'm a Ripplearian: I don't know; don't really care; let there be songs to fill the air

      by Frankenoid on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:54:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the "bad" vampire is back (6+ / 0-)

      I second The Passage recommendation.

      The Passage, while not strictly a horror novel, was significant because it's the first major book in a long time that portrays the vampire as bad. Really bad.

      Anne Rice turned hundreds of years of vampire lore on its head with the introduction of the sympathetic vampire.

      We've had 40 years of vampires who are seemingly more interested in holding your hand than draining you dry.

      The Passage brought back the vampire as mindless killing machine. Vampires in The Passage do not sparkle. They do not moon over human women. They cheerfully rip them to shreds.

      For more great vampiric badness, try 13 Bullets by David Wellington. It's the first in a series of 5 novels.

      Here's what Wellington says of his inspiration: "When I started work on 13 Bullets, it was going to be a four-thousand-word short story. I had just read some forgettable book about vampires falling in love with human women because they were . . . I don't know. Special or something. I threw the book across the room and said, 'Dracula would kick this guy's ass. And then eat his girlfriend for dessert.' I sat down to write a quick scene of a hardcore vampire fight, featuring the nastiest, brutal vampire I could think of . . . Five books later, here we are. It's been one hell of a ride."

      Very noir, very grim, very violent.

      A lot more believable than ooey-gooey vampy love stories.

      My .02.

      •  two-cent contributions add up (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, Avila

        So thanks for the rec AND a good commentary complements a good diary

        An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

        by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:45:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  thank you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JVolvo

        i've been looking for some summer reading with bad vampires!  totally agree that Anne Rice's sensitive, conscious, fashion magazines-reading creatures and the sentimental, vegetarian, glitter-in-sunlight variant ain't nuthin' like the Real Thing.

        •  another 2 cents... (0+ / 0-)

          The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.
          The book is an interconnected series of novellas about one Dr. Edward Weyland, anthropology professor, explorer of comparative cultures, vampire.

          Charnas takes an almost science fiction approach to her creation.  Starting with the "what-if" of a vampire, she explores all the possibilities and implications of its existence and in the process creates a character as memorable as Dracula or Barlow.

    •  Agreed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, Avila

      I actually picked that book up based on the recommendation of Stephen King.  He's a fan of Cronin.

      In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

      by Cixelsyd on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:05:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  have to come back to your diary but want (9+ / 0-)

    to make a comment--

    I've always liked horror, and always thought that King was outstanding--but not in all respects.  His character development, stage setting, and overall development of an atmosphere that ranges from sinister to downright malevolent is amazing.

    Even small phrases and images...like the 'loons' in Pet Sematary... the 'high, thin scream' in Salem's lot... completely draw the reader in and terrify them.

    Where King sometimes loses steam though--is in realization/climax.  IT, for example, would have been more frightening if it had remained in the realm of psychological rather than real horror--I didn't think a monster was necessary.  You want monsters?  Read Lovecraft--he does monsters better than anyone.

  •  Children of the Corn (14+ / 0-)

    i believe was a King novella, but it was a movie back when my folks rented VHS tapes to watch at night, after my bedtime. well, of course i watched it after they were asleep.  

    i don't know how old i was but i remember a car trip that summer, visiting family in Indiana, and way too many cornfields for my liking.  i think that's the first time my pops ever was really angry with me, in the pull-the-car-over sense of angry.  after a couple of hours of listening to me boo-hoo-hoo and demand "are we there yet?" he made me get out of the car (i'll never forget it) and walk with him through those scary cornfields to prove to me there were no bleep-bleeping "rugrats of the corn." ;)

  •  I remember being about 23 (8+ / 0-)

    full summertime in Virginia and late at night, reading It.  Probably one of the places in the book where Pennywise the Clown says We all float down here.  I had goosebumps up my arms like I've never seen.  

    And it sticks with you.  As I type here, the pores on my arms seem to be on high alert.

    Wholly-owned subsidiaries are people, too, my friend.

    by deminva on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:37:56 AM PDT

    •  That one was a fantastic portrait of (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, Aunt Pat, wasatch, Avila, Jay C, JVolvo

      enduring friendship and shared sacrifice. Halfway through the book I felt like they were my friends, too. Kids I'd grown up with.
      The only disappointment was the damn spider! What a let down ;-(


      "When the powerless are shut out of the media, we will make the media irrelevant" ~Anonymous~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:41:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  thats the one (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lisa Lockwood, Avila, mythatsme

      with the most execellent description of a bicycle and ride down a big hill right?  
       My first King was Carrie when i was in high school.   I agree with the Stand being the best, then a tie between the shining and salems lot.    His characters and the music just kept me drawn in and i liked him a lot.
        I saw his house in Bangor, the exterior is blood red big old house complete with scary wrought iron fantasy figured fence.   And i had Dance Macabre years ago.   Haven't read much for a while, not the newer stuff.    He gives a lot of money back to his town and bought out a winger radio station and i think its liberal now.
        And whom ever wrote a few lines above, funny cause i remembered them.  And i also really like Garcia-Marquez for 100 yrs/ solitude as well.  And still remember bits of that vividly 30 some yrs later.

  •  King can certainly (9+ / 0-)

    craft, and tell, a story.

    I recall a reviewer once commenting that part of the reason his stories are so scary is that they are so grounded in the mundane -- the pop references, the depiction of day-to-day life that gets twisted.

    Although I don't count it as his "best" novel, Needful Things is perhaps the best at illustrating the phenomena.  What happens with the individuals in a community -- or a society at large -- when each is given the opportunity to own something that falsely promises to fulfill their deepest longing, at what seems to be the modest cost of doing something just a little bit nasty to someone else?

    I'm a Ripplearian: I don't know; don't really care; let there be songs to fill the air

    by Frankenoid on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:36:54 AM PDT

  •  What is the picture of the girl from? (5+ / 0-)

    Looks awesome.

    "I'm not scared of anyone or anything, Angie. Isn't that the way life should be?" Jack Hawksmoor

    by skyounkin on Tue May 29, 2012 at 04:41:26 AM PDT

  •  The Walk or "Long walk" can't remember name... (9+ / 0-)

    is a book that has stayed with me. I can't get the lesson out of my mind of how important it is to keep going. To not give up. Facing fear...

    I loved "insomnia" and the dark towers series. I also loved "The Talisman"...bringing into life the whole concept of string theory, and dual realities.

    But the little book about a long walk has stayed with me and come to my mind the most.

    Yes, facing fear!

  •  All things serve the Beam... (10+ / 0-)

    I think one of my favorite things about Stephen King books is discovering how they all fit together into this same world. Everything interconnects, everything "Serves the Beam".

    If you like Stephen's Vampires...  have you read the Gunslinger Novella with the White Doctors? I can't think of the name of it.

    Also if you  have a Kindle you must read "UR"!! It was the first book I bought for my Kindle way back when I got it. Just... don't buy a Pink Kindle, or a Pink Kindle skin before you read it. I remember when my other half received his Kindle, my first question, peering into the box over his shoulder was "is it pink"? His answer "No, it's black, and if it were pink it was going BACK!"

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:32:21 AM PDT

    •  Everything interconnects, and (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, boudi08, Avila, MichiganChet, JVolvo

      everything's eventual ;-)


      "When the powerless are shut out of the media, we will make the media irrelevant" ~Anonymous~

      by Lisa Lockwood on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:44:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well I just might give in and get one (5+ / 0-)

      Stephen King, awhile back when his idea of a webnovel sort of petered out, said that the markets for electronica and solid books were kind of non-overlapping. I still think that is sort of true, and I hypothesize that different works are going to find success in differing media. If so, guess it is time to buy one, but the best books will still be hard-copy objects, at least for me

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:49:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hardcopy vs. Kindle. (5+ / 0-)

        Kindle books are often cheaper than the hardcopies, which means I can get more books. Also, Kindle books are easier to share with my other half, who is legally blind, because Kindle will read to him (with most books). Audio books are prohibitively expensive and a lot of books we read aren't even out on audio (though the Stephen King's are worth the price). Also, the Kindle is much much easier on my carpal tunnel, which flares from holding books open while I read. Add in the benefit of having an entire library of books available wherever I go, and at the weight of a few ounces, the ability to download a book almost instantly wherever I am, and... I love my Kindle.
        I do still buy hard-copy books, usually after I read them on Kindle, or books I know I want in that format (like Stephen Kings), or books not available on Kindle (there are a few).

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:24:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I did a diary on this awhile back (4+ / 0-)

          Feel free to peruse [Self serving, I know]. I can certainly see why you like your kindle, and it does seem that e-readers are now here to stay, which up until a few years ago I doubted. I didn't know they read to you!

          An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

          by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:32:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Text to speech option... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Avila, MichiganChet

            Very useful thing. I've used it when walking between bus stops, and when I had a migraine.. also when I was getting a scan done during a heart attack/blood clot scare and was freaking out with claustrophobia. The Kindle saved me that day. Not all books have the option enabled, depends on the publisher, but a lot of them do.

            And sometimes you can appeal to the author and they'll get the publisher to turn it on. I know one of Patricia Brigg's books didn't have it on, and my other half emailed her because all of her previous books had it, and she's not out on audiobook... and she hadn't realized her publisher had turned it off, it was back on in a week and Kindle updated our copy so he could read it.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:10:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Are you aware of Overdrive? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MichiganChet

              I have an IPAD and with Overdrive, it connects me to my library. I can check out books or even audio books.
              Some authors have now made it so books can only be transferred to a Kindle, but you can still get the Epub books.

              OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

              by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:26:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Can't afford an IPAD (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MichiganChet

                But you can check out library books on Kindle now as well. Besides, reading on a back-lit screen gives me a headache after a while. I get enough of that on the computer, the Kindle gives me a break from back-lit screens, which is a good thing.

                I do believe Kindle has a free app for IPads as well, though I don't believe that one does text to speech.

                "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

                by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:34:36 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Ka is a wheel. (6+ / 0-)

      It most certainly is.

      In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

      by Cixelsyd on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:08:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "The Little Sisters of Eluria" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichiganChet

      Is the name of the Gunslinger Novella, name thanks to FloridaSNDad. Knew he would remember the title, just had to wait for him to wake up!

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:41:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Little Sisters of Eluria. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichiganChet

      This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

      by mallyroyal on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:54:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have this vague recollection... (8+ / 0-)

    Of some thoughts by Stephen King. Perhaps it was the introduction to Danse Macabre but I'm not sure.

    What I do remember is that it was not fiction. Somewhere in telling the story of horror and why we enjoy it he mentioned being afraid as a child that if a hand or foot was hanging over the side of the bed something from underneath would grab him.

    The ending gave me goose bumps and reminded me that there is a little child in all of us. It ended with something like "Now that I'm an adult I know there is nothing under the bed. But there is no chance that I'm going to let my hand or foot hang over the side."

  •  Salem's Lot was my first King book (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Avila, MichiganChet

    I was living in Arizona and my sisters were also reading the book.  None of us could read it at night, it was that scary!

    I loved early King, so many good ones!   But after reading "Pet Cemetary", "Tommyknockers" and "Thinner" (I forget which one it was, but I threw my book across the room, I hated the ending that much), I gave up on King.

    If the formula for water is H2O, is the formula for an ice cube H2O squared? Lily Tomlin

    by Texnance on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:54:38 AM PDT

    •  Tommyknockers (6+ / 0-)

      was not one of my favorite books. He has written a few I'm not that fond of, and that was a big one for me. But I've never given up on King.

      The Bachman books were mostly more psychological horror then monster in the closet books. (Thinner was a Bachman.) Still horror but a bit different, which I think is part of the reason he published them under a pseudonym at first. I think my favorite Bachman was "The Regulators", though "Thinner" is up there too.

      But despite the couple of books I wasn't overly fond of, I've remained a Constant Reader.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Tue May 29, 2012 at 06:17:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tommyknockers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM

        made my stomach hurt and gave me weird feelings.
        I could not finish that book. Especially after what he did to Peter, the Beagle since I had 2 at the time.
        I hate it when authors kill dogs!

        OBAMA'S GUIDING PRINCIPLES: HOLD NO ONE ACCOUNTABLE. LOOK FORWARD.

        by snoopydawg on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:28:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah I didn't really dig Tommyknockers either (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      But I didn't feel reading it was a waste of my time. Reading King is a bit like sex . . .even when it is bad it is still a pretty decent way to spend one's time

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:28:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One more thing (9+ / 0-)

    Not once since 1980 have I driven through the Lincoln Tunnel without thing of the trip that Larry Underwood and Rita Blakemoor made through the tunnel.

    And I drive through that tunnel often.

  •  I read King from a fairly early age (6+ / 0-)

    but I remember not being frightened until The Stand, which I think is responsible for my love of epidemiology. I still love The Long Walk, and have always thought the man waiting to meet Ray at the end of the walk was an avatar of Randall Flagg.

    It gives a lovely light.

    by CayceP on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:38:24 AM PDT

  •  I read 'The Mist' when I was about 12 years old (8+ / 0-)

    and it scared/scarred me for life. Before the movie came out, my wife wanted to read the story and when she was finished, she said, 'You read that when you were twelve? No wonder you're scared of tentacles. And bugs. And the dark. And religion.'

    I'm currently reading '11/22/63'. It's not scary at all, but it has sucked me right in, like most of King's books.

    Whose interest does ignorance serve? - Carl Sagan

    by spgilbert on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:06:03 AM PDT

    •  I count 11/22/63 as one of his best (5+ / 0-)

      It contains two of my favorite nerdy subjects, history and sci-fi.  

      I am so glad to see so many Stephen King fans.  His novels (among others) kept me company throughout a 5 year stint in which I had a one hour train commute.  

      Oddly enough, I think his best novels are the ones that do not have a supernatural element, or the supernatural has a limited role or is based in reality.  I loved Different Seasons and Misery.  

      The Stand will also always have a special place in my heart.  I hated reading as a teenager until I read The Stand.

  •  I read this as a youn teen (4+ / 0-)

    and it indeed scared the snot out of me.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    It is also my 2nd favorite King novel, after "Firestarter", which is less a horror than a fantasy novel.

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:44:38 AM PDT

  •  I can't help it. King is good, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet

    no one beats Anne Rice in my estimation.  Her vampires, the witches, oh her Lasher... all her books are hauntingly beautiful with subtle imagery, more indirectly drawing on one's fear which I prefer and as you say:

    And then, if the book is really good, you remember that feeling, in a deep down way.

    But I have kept three of King's books sitting next to every one of Rice's books.  

    The Stand and The Long Walk are my favorites.  I read The Shining when I was house sitting a huge home with many halls and doors and I was completely lost in disquiet one particular night and finally had to put the book away until the owners of the home came back.  I'll never forget having to walk from one side of the house to the other through those halls, past all the doors, to get to my room.

    Here's a song to thank you for your thoughts.  I enjoyed reading you.

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:18:13 AM PDT

  •  I remember reading "Salem's Lot" and I (5+ / 0-)

    have read so many books that it's amazing that I can remember that one. Of course, I read "Dracula" when I was about ten years old and I had to keep putting it down because I was so terrified. When I'm walking at night in San Francisco with my brother and it's foggy, I still say "It's Lucy weather", to my brother because fortunately, he read "Dracula", too. After she became a vampire, Lucy would prey on small children in the London smog just after sundown.
      I worked PM shift at a state mental hospital when I read "Salem's Lot".  I usually walked to and from work through the extensive grounds.  Walking home through the poorly lit, overgrown shrubs and trees of the hospital a little before midnight, clutching "Salem's Lot"  to my chest, I was so frightened that I could hear my heart thudding. I drove the short distance to and from work after that.

    48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam> "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." Edna St.V. Millay

    by slouching on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:50:21 AM PDT

  •  I discovered King as a kid, looking among (5+ / 0-)

    my grandparents' books and finding a dogeared "Skeleton Crew."  I'm pretty sure the first story was "The Mist" and that thing scared me damn near to death.  I've been a fan ever since.

    funny thing, I read several of his books in the library of my high school... which was Catholic.  I always found that strange lol.

    anyway.  I've not been a huge Bachmann fan but just about everything he's written under his own name has been gold for me.

    I'm a Dark Tower Junkie, btw.  I know waaaaaayyyyyy too much about Roland's ka-tet, Beams, etc. lol.  I love the way he's made that story the "universe" his other stories occupy.  that's awesome to me.

    I'm of the opinion that King is the best writer of his generation, if not the greatest American writer of the 20th century, but that's JMO.

    This comment is dedicated to my mellow Adept2U and his Uncle Marcus

    by mallyroyal on Tue May 29, 2012 at 09:50:29 AM PDT

  •  I read It (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, MichiganChet, JVolvo

    in college. it just so happened that I had the flu and a 101 degree fever. I had the worst nightmares ever thanks to that combination.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:28:52 AM PDT

  •  What, for me, sets King apart from others (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet, JVolvo

    in the genre (Koonts, Straub, etc.) is his character development.

    I do confess to a fondness for King's ability to get his readers up close and personal with horrific events and actions, but that alone doesn't keep my interest through the last page.

    Almost without exception, I've found myself caring about the characters in his stories. His heroes are sublimely flawed and his antagonists and monsters are acutely evil.

    I think one of the best examples is Carrie White. Others include just about every resident of Derry.

    As for King's vampires, I'm afraid I'm of the opinion that others have depicted them better, but I did like 'Salem's Lot.

    "If we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we need to reduce the number of our senators dependent on fossil fuel contributions." - Rodney Glassman

    by Darryl House on Tue May 29, 2012 at 10:39:11 AM PDT

  •  Weird - I've been re-reading SALEM'S LOT the past (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet, JVolvo

    week for the first time in decades. My fave King.

  •  I read the book... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet, Wood Dragon, JVolvo

    ...after watching the miniseries.  (The first miniseries, directed by Tobe Hooper.)  I was engrossed by the book, and most moved by the depiction of the destruction of the town.  A few years ago, my daughter got into vampire stories - I immediately recommended Salem's Lot to her.

    Here are a couple other recommendations for vampire afficionados:  

    The Stress of Her Regard
    by Tim Powers.  Powers is one of those writers more people should know about.  He's fond of taking historical events, looking for gaps in the record, and filling them with ghosts and demons and such.  In this book, he involves Byron, Shelley, and Keats with vampires.  It's intriguing and creepy.  (In another of his books, he works djinn into the Kim Philby case.)

    Anno Dracula by Kim Newman.  The premise is that Dracula, rather than being killed by Van Helsing, marries Queen Victoria and becomes the de facto ruler of England.  The original characters from Stoker's novel are intertwined with Jack the Ripper (who is murdering vampire prostitutes) and just about every character from Victorian adventure fiction you could ask for.  (A Certain Detective is not included, but he is accounted for.  His brother, however, makes an appearance as one of the leaders of the resistance.)  It is, as a friend of mine described it, a hoot.

    As for the formidable Mr. King, I often recommend one of his lesser works, The Running Man.  Not horror, obviously.  (Although the movie version was a horror.)  It is a surprisingly strong dystopian novel, and remarkably prescient.  If you haven't read it - or haven't read it in a while - check it out.  It's waaaay more subversive that the Schwarzenegger cartoon.  

    Finally, I recall reading years ago that a noteworthy author whose name escapes me now was asked which writers we would still be reading in fifty years.  His answer was "Stephen King and Elmore Leonard."  Both of those strike me as very plausible indeed.

    When you punch enough holes through steerage, the first-class cabins sink with the rest of the ship.

    by Roddy McCorley on Tue May 29, 2012 at 11:37:23 AM PDT

  •  No one develops characters like King... (3+ / 0-)

    He is the very best!  The Stand is my favorite book, mostly because I feel like I really know the characters.  He is the master of horror and suspense, because his readers are invested in his characters.

  •  My dad introduced me to Stephen King (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet, Black Max, JVolvo

    when I was about 14 or so...he was reading Salem's Lot and I asked him about it, because I used to walk around all day with my nose in a book.  He recommended that I read it, even though I could tell that it scared him a little bit!

    I must say that the book scared the f@#$ing shit out of me, and I LOVED it!!!  I read all of his books up to the really recent ones because I just haven't had the time -- I loved The Stand and his collection Four Past Midnight...if I remember correctly there was a short story about a young unmarried woman who was pregnant and something went terribly wrong at the end (The Breathing Method) -- a really well-written story!

    There are few things more dreadful than dealing with a man who knows he is going under, in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Nothing can help that man. What is left of that man flees from what is left of human attention. James A. Baldwin

    by avamontez on Tue May 29, 2012 at 12:11:17 PM PDT

    •  Oh yes, King's homage to Peter Straub (0+ / 0-)

      and his 'Ghost Story' novel. I liked it too:

      Oh no sir. They simply chose to stay away

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 03:20:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Breathing Method (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JVolvo

      That was the fourth short story in Different Seasons.  They made movies based on the other three stories:

      Rita Hayworth and Shawshack Redemption became...you guessed it.  Excellent movie.

      The Body became Stand By Me...about the kids who went out to find the body of a man hit by a train.  Another excellent movie.

      Apt Pupil - Movie of the same name.  Never saw it, but the story was good.  Kid discovers an ex-Nazi and a twisted relationship ensues.

      This book and Pet Sematary were the first King books I evern read.  Pet Sematary scared the holy F#@K out of me because I had young sons and the main character lost his son graphically.

      Mitt's foreign policy: Double Guantanamo, with cheese.

      by Rich N Mdriems on Tue May 29, 2012 at 05:08:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My first King novel was "The Talisman" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet, Dvalkure, dancerat, JVolvo

    read it while deployed to the Indian Ocean back in the 80s.  Borrowed my copy from the flight surgeon who was a King fan, and he let me into his library to read the rest of what he had with him.  Loved it!

    Dark Tower does such a great job of interconnecting many of his stories together in an interesting way.  I have to agree that "The Gunslinger" was hard to get through, but the rewrite/re-edited version reads far easier.  I'm re-reading the DT again, but going a bit slower this time... it's worth it.

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Tue May 29, 2012 at 01:14:05 PM PDT

  •  I think King is destined to be one of the (4+ / 0-)

    Great American Authors, and not really for his horror, but for his characterization, his dialogue, and his sense of locale.

    I've never read a clearly stated explanation of this, but King underwent something of a self-driven redemption in 1991 or so. His novels were growing ever more bloated and self-indulgent, most evidently in "The Tommyknockers" and "Needful Things" (with VERY notable exceptions, particularly Volumes II-IV of "The Dark Tower"), but in 1992 he published a lean little firespark of a book, "Gerald's Game." For some reason, the meme of women being abused by men has informed and infused his work ever since, giving us some truly memorable work ("Dolores Claiborne," "Rose Madder," scenes in "Insomnia" and "Hearts in Atlantis," etc). I think it transformed him from an extremely good writer into a potentially great writer, even if he still makes occasional slips ("Dreamcatcher," gaaaah).

    •  "Dreamcatcher" is his worst novel, in my opinion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Black Max

      It's just a mess. It's forgivable, since it was the first novel he wrote after his near-death car accident. And especially since the two works he did before it (Bag of Bones and Hearts in Atlantis) are two of his best and most emotional works.

      •  I knew about the timing of "Dreamcatcher" (0+ / 0-)

        but on a strictly literary level, it's almost unreadable. (Except that even really, really bad King is never unreadable.)

        Side note on a virtually dead discussion topic: I vehemently disagree with the bashing received by "The Gunslinger" in this thread. It's not as dense and plot-driven as his other work, but it sets a wonderful atmosphere and tone that informs the rest of the series. It's eerie and evocative, something that King sometimes misses. And it's leaned-down writing, something that he REALLY sometimes misses.

  •  Quick comment about fear, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet

    (Longer comment to follow)...

    And, as events from the Salem Witch Trials (get the resonance?) to the modern Tea Party demonstrate, fear, like viruses, is contagious.
    I think of fear as not just a virus, but as an addiction.  I'm not talking about us as giggling horror story readers, but I mean society at large, and at some of our worst episodes in history, I believe that the simple ENJOYMENT of our horror has provoked horrible things.  Most normal people with confronted with something horrible will, usually, evade it.  But sometimes, a different dynamic takes place, just as car engines during start-up, at a certain point, turn adiabatic.  That's when panic sets in, and panic is so delicious that it feeds itself.

    Consider the Salem Witch Trials, which you mentioned.  Think how much everybody in Salem must have enjoyed those witch trials!  "Oh my God!  Witches are gonna take over the town!  What ever are we going to do?"  Part of them, deep down, realizes, this is all silly shit, but, oh, what if not!  It excites them, adrenaline rushes... And this leads to people confessing to bizarre things and others being burned at the stake.

    George Carlin in one of his routines:

    Don’t you have a part of you that secretly hopes everything gets worse? When you see a big fire on TV, don’t you hope it spreads? Don’t you hope it gets completely out of control and burns down six counties? You don’t root for the firemen do you? I mean I don’t want them to get hurt or nothing, but I don’t want them putting out my fire. That’s my fire. That’s nature showing off and having fun. I like fires...
    So those people gathered around the pyres watching their neighbors burn, THEY ENJOYED IT.  Not because they hated their neighbors or wanted their land, although I'm sure of that, but because, "OH, BUT WHAT IF THERE REALLY COULD BE WITCHES!"  It's a mixture of "Oh no!" and "Far fucking out!"

    Don't think so?  Look at how the wingnuts especially in rural areas freaked out over 9/11, duct taping their houses, forming new militias (because the old militias weren't good enough, I guess).  Sales of Humvees went up, gun sales went up, etc.  People LOVED 9/11!  It was the biggest adrenaline rush that some people had had since they touched their first naked boobie on a hot date.  The only thing hotter than your first naked boobie would be like naked boobies coming to life and whipping out Korans and blowing up buildings on TV with super-powered nipples.

    So fear and panic are addictive, in part because they are so enjoyable.  And it's all irrational, of course -- that's implicit in the concept of panic, isn't it?  The body influencing the mind, but not to flee from something, but to get closer and see things you fear become real.

    It's difficult at times to see yourself doing this, and you do do this, not when you're reading Stephen King, but in just ordinary daily life.  Especially on political blogs, like DailyKos, where it runs rampant in a way that truly is non-partisan, shared by both the Right and the Left.

    I remember hanging out in IRC chat the night Bush beat Kerry.  There were people on there in such a terrible state of despair that they were talking about how we might need to make preparations to leave the United States, that it was like Hitler's plurality, etc.  And I said, without being sarcastic at all, and feeling very, very bummed and unhappy myself, "Try not to enjoy your own sense of panic too much."

    So that's my motto.  It's a useful thing to remember, especially on political forums, where panic is such a useful motivating political motif.  On both the right and the left.  I don't need to point to specific examples on our side.  I'm sure you can think of those on your own.

    I guess the short comment turned into a long one.  Next one is just about vampires.

    •  I was kind of hoping you would weigh in on this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      And I was also hoping to get a conversation started on exactly that theme, that is the reason King continues to be relevant is that he tells us about what fear is, and I think that a goodly amount of politics these days is based on exactly that, or maybe its weak stepsister anxiety.  Fear may be an addiction; anxiety much less so.
         I think the fear-as addiction concept is perhaps more applicable to people who free-solo up mountain cliffs (i.e climb up mountains without rope or pitons), hangglide, extreme surf etc. . .in which the thrill of fear becomes that. The key differential is others: No addiction requires the presence of others, although it makes it more fun. But groupfear by definition requires the presence of a group. It is a well known phenomenon that people take their emotional cues from others . . .we laugh often at what others think is funny. . .and I have very little doubt that fear operates the same way. That is why, like Ebola virus it is contagious and spreads so rapidly
         Then you add in other things like bloodlust and shared guilt and you really have the recipe for the Salem Witch Trials. I think your quote from Carlin is apt, but it is a different emotion. . .it is the Joker in many people who would like to set the word on fire, just to watch it burn

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:05:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I don't think it's the joker. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichiganChet

        I think it's more insidious than that.  I think probably MOST people want to see the fire rage and get bigger, they just don't admit it to themselves.  Just as most people would say they don't REALLY want to see the White House get blown up in the film Independence Day, but hey, admit it, it's the coolest scene in the film.  Maybe even more so because you grip your chin and go, "OH NO!  Aliens blew up the White House!"  I think this happens at a deeper level, and that's why it's so easy to not know that you're doing it.

        I'll probably get hammered for saying this, but some of the apocalypse diaries on DailyKos are rife with this.  Global warming, for instance, is a real problem that we need to do something about, and there's a possibility that we've let it go too far to prevent some big econological payback.  But, as an example, there was a diary a few days ago in which somebody suggested that it was even worse than global warming -- that we were about to re-experience the methane ice meltdown of the triassic that led to a greater extinction level event than the jurassic meteor.  And people were just LOVING it.  

        That's what I mean.  It's possible to enjoy apocalyptic bullshit so much that you stop being rational.

        There's an interesting new tv series on National Geographic called Doomsday Preppers.  Maybe you can find some episodes or a trailer on Youtube.  It covers people who are preparing for an apocalypse (and they usually all have different ideas of what that will be) preparing for the breakdown of society that they expect.  It shows the way they stockpile food, their emergency escape plans, their bunkers, etc.  They do it politely (perhaps too), not treating them as insane, which some of them arguably are, like the guy who thinks Texas is going to be separated from the US by tectonic plates, and has 22 people in his group.  They LOVE what they're doing!  

        They follow this one woman who is too poor to really do it up big time, just making her own preparations as best she can living in an apartment, mapping escape routes, taking hikes at night down aqueducts with her backpack to test them, her plans to kill her cats, her plans to turn to prostitution in case things get too tough.  And she just LOVES TALKING ABOUT IT ALL!  At one point, she theorizes about what is going to happen to her friends and relatives who mock her when the shit hits the fan, and she laughs and pumps her fists in the air thinking about how they're all going to die while she gets to party on.

        Watching that, you realize, this isn't really about anxiety, not about protecting yourself from disaster.  The apocalypse is just fun!

      •  Here's an episode of Doomsday Preppers. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichiganChet

        I haven't seen this one.  

        The first guy is convinced that civilization is going to be destroyed by coronal ejections.

        •  I had a coronal ejection once (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dumbo

          But then got up and changed my shorts. . .

          OKay, couldn't resist that one (rimshot). In all seriousness, you should read King's Danse Macabre; he goes into some of that - the horror movie reflecting what society happens to be most paranoid about, at the moment. I have very little doubt that the current popularity of the Zombie sub-genre is a reflection of this, and most people seem to have a ripping good time of it.
             I missed the diary you mentioned, but indulge them. . .more temperately I might mention that any global dislocation like climate change will disproportionately affect the world's poor, many of whom lack the computers, broadband and literacy for DailyKos accounts, and thus are unable to share our enthusiasm, such as it is for the coming ecological disaster

          An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

          by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:40:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One comment just about Stephen King. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet, northerntier

    It occurs to me that there are two recurring themes in Stephen King that really stand out.  The first is: The Haunted Town.  He doesn't usually focus on troubled people or troubled isolated relationships.  He likes a whole town that's in trouble.  Salem's Lot is the first novel like that.

    The other recurring theme is: Bullies.  His villains all share in common this similarity to the schoolyard bully.   And some of his worst villains are, in fact, bullies, like Henry Bower in IT.  I don't know what happened to Stephen King in school, but I suspect he got the crap beat out of him a few times, just like me.  

    Not everybody goes through the hazing ritual of the bully.  That's a bracing thought: that the world can be divided into those who understand it and those who don't, who glide through life having filtered it out of their experience, baffled by it when they do perceive it as some unusual anomaly that happens to other people.  

    For those of us that did get a good regular ass-kicking when we were at a young age, it's a different and enlightening experience, our first real experience with Evil, capital E.  We get the realization that society itself can turn against you, that people can kick your ass, and not just get away with it, but others in your peer group that you didn't think about too much will watch on and giggle about it, entertained.  A good schoolyard bully beating divides the world in half: On one side, there are those who do the beating and those who enable them and enjoy the spectacle.  On the other side, there's you.  Oh yes, you can complain to authority figures, but you lose face doing that.  You even lose face with the authority figures.  You learn that people getting their ass kicked is just the way of life.  

    In King's novels, villains are notable for not just inflicting pain and grief on other people, but for doing it with a kind of schoolyard glee, one that feeds on your pain and discomfort above and beyond more rational targeted objectives.

    In Hearts in Atlantis, the main character gives The Lord of the Flies to one of the kids in the book who is being ass-whupped at school.  He tells him that it may be the scariest book he ever read.  I suspect King was speaking from his own heart when he said that.  I can share my own feelings of deep despair and identification when I read Lord of the Flies.  It made sense.  We can try to read many shades of more adult meaning into it, but to little Dumbo-kid, it was about the schoolyard beating.  Not the beaters themselves -- the kids who stand around and watch with excitement, giggling to themselves, some of them getting the idea, hey, I should do this too.  Human sacrifice is never very far from the human heart.

    •  There is that or, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dumbo

      Maybe King while not being the target of bullies himself - he may have been slick enough even then to talk his way out of being targeted - certainly witnessed it, and there may even (this is really amateur psychologizing but bear with me) be a bit of guilt about it - and thus to turn it around, his heroes are the ones who stand up to them (his friend Chris in 'The Body/Stand by Me) comes to mind. King distinguished Mark Petrie as being special because he can stand up to the ordinary bully.
         I didn't go into it here, but the theme of heroism is something I think about often - and made reference to in a prior diary - encapsulated perhaps by the character of Simon in 'Lord of the Flies'. This is timely, not only because of the Chris Hayes recent tempest-in-a-teapot, but because of the maybe more personal dimension of going along with the crowd as it applauds the bully choosing a victim and tormenting him/her

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue May 29, 2012 at 07:28:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One comment just about vampires... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichiganChet

    Wow, I have a lot to say today.  But I've had plenty of time to think about these matters.  The subject of the whole vampire genre is another one that I've spent way too long analyzing.  

    Vampires come in many different forms.  Scariness is a uniting factor, I suppose.  So is sex.  It's difficult to divorce them from sex without turning them into something non-vampirish, just another type of generic monster.

    Vampire fiction was shaped by the Victorian era.  The vampire is a creature that exists to fulfill its carnal needs.  There's an unhealthy attraction between the victim and the vampire, with the vampire being a selfish consumer, often one who can't be dissuaded from pursuing a certain victim when his mind is set to it.  There is the implication of lust out of control, and of victims, especially female victims of virtue, being despoiled in such a way as to remove them forever from the virtuous comfort of the family.

    What a brilliant excuse for family-friendly pornography!  I found this easily enough, an excerpt from Chapter 3 of Stoker's Dracula.  

    I was not alone.The room was the same, unchanged in any way since I came into it.I could see along the floor, in the brilliant moonlight,my own footsteps marked where I had disturbed the long accumulation of dust. In the moonlight opposite me were three young women, ladies by their dress and manner. I thought at the time that I must be dreaming when I saw them, they threw no shadow on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at me for some time, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes, that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was fair,as fair as can be, with great masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy,some longing and at the same time some deadly fear.I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.It is not good to note this down, lest some day it should meet Mina's eyes and cause her pain, but it is the truth. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed, such a silvery,musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable,tingling sweetness of waterglasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.

    One said, "Go on! You are first, and we shall follow. Yours' is the right to begin."

    The other added, "He is young and strong. There are kisses for us all."

    I lay quiet, looking out from under my eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me. Sweet it was in one sense,honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.

    I was afraid to raise my eyelids,but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating.There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat. Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and I could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one's flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer, nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart.

    I liked this line: "Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth..."  As somebody who used to write porn and hang out in an erotica writing workshop, I can identify that kind of sentence RIGHT AWAY.  Lower and lower.  Faster and faster.  Higher and higher -- All of it language poorly designed to draw out the sexual act.  Even without penises and vaginas, this is clearly porn!

    And then there is the gay, another recurring theme in vampire fiction.  When I read Anne Rice back in the early eighties, I really enjoyed it.  Then somebody pointed out that all of Anne Rice's vampires were gay.  I was disgruntled at first by that, then I realized, hey...  he's right.  They are gay!

    In fact, we know that that was one of Anne Rice's intents.  There is no sex in her vampire books, not even Stokerish pseudo-porn.  But the relationships between the vampires themselves have a subliminal sexual charge.  I can understand why some people who are not gay (and I'm not) might want to avoid Anne Rice because of that, but you're missing something good if you do.  NOT noticing the subtext in Anne Rice puts you at a disadvantage.

    One of the earliest vampire novels, predating Bram Stoker, was Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla, another vampire novel with a gay (lesbian) subtext.  Carmilla is an ageless young woman who changes her name and travels, and wherever she travels (as we learn -- the POV is from the family of her intended victim), family members become sick and gradually die from blood loss.  Taken into the household as a guest, as a young and innocent girl, she is trusted to sleep in the same bed with the daughter of the house.  The daughter changes.  They become unwholesomely close.  I don't want to look up the actual language, but the family is disturbed by the closeness.

    •  I'd call it erotica, not porn (0+ / 0-)

      But let's not split hairs. Interestingly enough, King also says what you write, again most notably in Danse Macabre. . .The scene is rudely interrupted by the arrival of the Count himself, probably to the dismay of the readers who wanted it to continue. . .another staple of erotic writing I must add (never got into that myself, but somehow I think I could. . .just don't know if there is any coin in that sort of thing anymore, not since YouPorn). And yes, I specifically referenced le Fanu's 'Carmilla' in my diary, knowing someone would look it up and comment on the saphhic resonances in the novel. This is what is known as a comment lure.
         Now. As you can guess from my link/reference to "The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula" I am not on principle opposed to quasi-pornograhic hot vampire woman-on-woman love scenes (it helps that I like redheads) - but I really think this is separate from trying to create a good scary novel that is supposed to scare the snot out of you. And I really prefer the vampire tales to be scary, like they originally were, which is, as I keep saying, the point of what I wrote. . .and that people need reminding of, from time to time.

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Wed May 30, 2012 at 01:25:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've never read a Stephen King... (0+ / 0-)

    ... should I start now?

    If I so, which one should I start with? ^_^

    •  Well, as I hope I made clear (0+ / 0-)

      'Salem's Lot is a great place to start. The only thing I would add, entre-nous, is that if you are not old enough to remember the 70s , some aspects might be a little puzzling. But that should not detract in any meaningful way from the enjoyment of the novel as long as you realize it is the 70s in 'Salem's Lot and a lot of the modern methods of communication did not exist back then.
         From there "The Shining", "the Stand" "Different Season's" and The Dark Tower Series. I am starting to work on that one myself.

      You will enjoy this

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 07:44:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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