Paul Simpson - A Brief Guide to Stephen King (Constable-Robinson, March 2014)
Blurb: ALLYOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT STEPHEN KING BUT WERE TOO AFRAID TO ASK!
In 1974, a new talent burst onto the horror scene: Maine schoolteacher Stephen King. Over the next forty years, King's name would become synonymous with horror and dark fantasy through over fifty bestselling books including his magnum opus, the 'Dark Tower' series.
Simpson traces the writer's development through his difficult childhood and his early writing career to the success of Carrie, 'Salem's Lot and The Shining in the 1970s and the outpouring of material over the following two decades, some published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. He shows how King's writing was affected by the accident that nearly killed him in 1999, and the ways in which his battles with addiction to alcohol and medication are reflected in his stories. He also discusses the dozens of films, TV shows, plays and comic books that have been inspired by King's works.
A recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, among many other fantasy and mystery awards, King is one of the most significant cultural figures of the recent past, whose work remains as relevant – and popular – today as when he began writing.
Wasn't even aware this existed until a copy turned up on my friend's stall last weekend. Two months published and already battered to bits (!). Anyway, I trooped over to the park and got stuck into A Brief Guide .... straight away. Took me less than two hours to read it cover-cover, and that with a t-shirt buying intermission (black, purple). Fave bits are Mr. Simpson's detailed entries on the novels, with synopses, background info, & the occasional quote from the author ("I couldn't ever imagine publishing Pet Sematary, it was so awful. But the fans loved it. You can't gross out the American public, or the British public for that matter, because they loved it too."). The short story collections get less of a look in, but at least they're not overlooked.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
Not a bad little book this. Although it doesn't throw us anything remarkably new, it is however a good reference book and easy to navigate. These books tend to be cluttered up but it sections each of his works well. Enjoyed it a lot and raced through reading it.
On a side note his latest Novel Mr Mercedes is superb.