Friday, 4 December 2009

Why? - Part 2

The more I think about how vast this task it, the more I think I should have a better reason for reading all of Stephen King's fiction in order of publication than 'something to do'.

The interesting thing is that, so far, only my wife Lisa has actually asked why I'd want to do such a thing. With such a huge bibliography, and as most will know, King's not one for knocking out 150-200 page novels, his are generally the size of house bricks, I'm going to be reading nothing but Stephen King for, at the very least, the next three to five years. That simple issue of the exclusion of all other authors for such a long time unsettles me a bit, never mind the fact that King is generally a 'horror writer'. It's going to be a long and disconcerting journey (something I'm counting on, otherwise what would be the point?) that may well unhinge me in some way.

But the length and intensity of this project appeals to me. The endurance factor and total immersion in his work seems to me to be the purest way of appreciating, experiencing and respecting the author and the material. It's a bit like watching the extended DVD versions of all three Lord of
the Rings films in one day. Something I've managed twice. For those 12 hours-ish, you live the story, the conflicts, the loss, the redemption and resolution and it's such a satisfying commitment to the work.

Of course, it's nothing like that at all, but you get it...don't you?

I keep mentioning stories. I love stories. Always have. I read like a bastard when I was a kid and it has stuck. I've always loved the deeply personal aspect of reading. It's just you and the book on a journey together. And I definitely don't mean in the X Factor journey from auditions to crashing out in the live finals cliche.
It's almost like a virtual reality machine, but vastly cheaper and more mobile. They suck you in and take you for the ride. Unlike many, that has been my solid modus operandi for reading...let the author take you. Don't try to second guess where it's going or whodunit, let the writer lay it all out and work his magic without trying to undermine him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating completely passive readership. There has to be a level of engagement and dialogue between writer and reader.


I've never been a big fan of writing or reading book reviews. My love for books has always been in the moment of reading. In the midst of story lines, of chapters, of sentences I am captivated. I am held by writers and their expansion of ideas, plot turns, narrative arcs, ability to convey the purest of universal truths in the most everyday events. Jesus, a turn of phrase can take my breath.

That's part of why I love reading. And that's part of why I like Stephen King and am confident that building on my youthful encounters, I will come to love his work.

I'm racking my brain but the only book I can think of that has made me cry, aside from the Bill Hicks biography by Cynthia True is The Long Walk by King writing as Richard Bachman. If that isn't a reason to order more drinks from his bar, I'm not sure what is.

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