I don’t know if Stephen King is my favorite writer. I think he is, but I feel like saying I have a favorite writer is phony. I’ve only read a small percentage of his 62 novels.
But, I love them all. And — by his own luck or my own taste — I love nearly all the movies that have been crafted from the ribs of his prose. And, my dad has always had a zeal for him. At sleepovers, he would turn the lights out in our bedrooms and recite “The Children of the Corn.” Friends were probably lost and gained.
Two underappreciated aspects of King’s writing stand out to me. First, his imagination lends perfectly to his versatility, and vice versa. He’s commanded horror, sci-fi, mystery, supernatural and coming-of-age genres. His short stories are as striking as his novels.
Secondly, King’s imprint, and that same versatility, spans genres and decades (and degrees of success), in the cinema. Let’s talk success. Tom Hanks played one of his all time best characters, Paul Edgecomb, in the The Green Mile (1999). River Phoenix and company go in search of a dead body in Stand By Me (1986). Jack Nicholson’s Johnny doesn’t get enough play in The Shining (1980). All these films are uniquely different from one another, but they’re all a part of the King universe.
To say that King’s newest novel, Revival, exemplifies the ubiquity of his career sounds reductive but is, in all actuality, a worthy analogue. For starters, the plot spans four decades, the same number of years since the publication of King’s first novel, Carrie (1974).
Furthermore, initial reviews of Revival are in: It’s terrifyingly good. (The Daily News and Washington Post have called it among his best work ever.) I’m only surprised by the positivity because the dude’s been churning out hits since the Nixon administration. Shouldn’t he be just chilling out by now? Or, shouldn’t we be sick of him? Sure, his last novel, Mr. Mercedes, was a dud, but make no mistake: King’s illustrious career is paved with the magnanimous words of literary critics.
Keep in mind that this is a fleeting examination of King’s career. It is also an endorsement — read him if you haven’t done so yet. I would suggest The Dead Zone or one of his short stories.
That being said, Revival is most important to me right now because it epitomizes the thousands of pages written by King before now, jarring in both the beauty of his prose and the horror of his notions.
Because the light bulb tends to burn out by the 40th year — either in time on earth or in talent — I could not confidently say that I look forward to a fifth decade for too many authors. And yet, King continues to furnish his unworthy subjects with quality substance for feasting, as if his 60-some novels, short stories and movie adaptations of his work weren’t enough.
Call me anti-American, but I support this monarchy. All hail King.
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