In case you missed the post where I professed my love for the printed word, I’m a reader. The voracious kind. Insatiable. I have stacks and stacks of books checked out from my local library that will eventually be returned unread because I just cannot physically read that many (oh, but I long to). My own collection has exploded beyond the confines of my library (yes, I have one of those and it’s everything this little bookworm ever dreamed of) into the rest of my house. The built-in shelves that line the living room walls, the ones that are supposed to house trinkets and photos, are now almost completely filled with books.
I couldn’t tell you how many I actually own, and I haven’t read half of them, but just knowing they’re there, ready for whatever whim or new interest strikes me next, is a comfort. Fiction and non-fiction, battered old paperbacks and rare collector’s editions, romance and horror and history and politics and sci-fi – I have and love them all. I’ve even saved my childhood favorites – A Wrinkle in Time, The Secret of NIMH, “The Baby-Sitters’ Club”,”Sweet Valley High” (which had to be saved from my mother, who tried to sell them at a yard sale. I still don’t know what the hell she was thinking). I’ve kept them all, those little bound collections of paper that chronicle my tastes and interests throughout my entire life and have come to mean so much to me.
Of course my tastes have evolved as I’ve grown. Classics that seemed dry and staid in high school now have the power to affect me deeply. I love discovering contemporary literary writers – Ian McEwan, George Saunders, and Peter Heller are a few of my favorites. And because my leisure time has dwindled (being a grown-up sucks sometimes), I have little patience for bad fiction. Whereas I once would have soldiered through a book with a lousy, uninteresting story, hoping to find the redeeming qualities even when it became apparent that there weren’t any, I’m now perfectly fine with calling it quits and moving on to something worthwhile.
But the one thing that has remained constant throughout all these years is my love of Stephen King. My discovery of his books coincided with my own coming of age, when I made the jump to the awesome, mysterious world of adult fiction from the confines of the children’s section. Yeah, some of the subject matter was a little on the inappropriate side for a middle-schooler, but I’ll tell you, I don’t think I learned more about the way people think, their motivations and fears and desires than I did by reading his books. Worlds opened in front of me because of them. Some spoke to me more than others – The Stand, ‘Salem’s Lot, The Long Walk, IT – and these I would read over and over and over again until the places became as familiar to me as the street outside my window, the characters like old friends. I would read almost all of them at least once by the time I reached adulthood.
But the long, languid days of adolescence, where I could easily read a book a day if not more, are long behind me. Like I said, my reading time has become precious to me and returning to old favorites doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. This is where Stephen King Revisited comes in.
Richard Chizmar, the founder of Cemetery Dance Publications, the renowned horror fiction publishing house and magazine, started the project a few years ago, with the ultimate goal being to read every single book Stephen King has published, in publication order. He chronicles his memories of first reading them, as well as his current observations, in essays that are posted to the website. What’s more, we’re given a bit of a history lesson about the writing and creation of each book by author and Stephen King expert Bev Vincent, and guest writers contribute their thoughts about their favorites. It’s a fascinating look at an enormous body of work. And because I couldn’t have asked for a better excuse to revisit my favorite author’s work, I’ve been playing along. I haven’t picked up some of these books in twenty years and there are even a few I’m reading for the first time, but the feeling that I’m returning home as some prodigal daughter, as silly as it may sound, is strong. I love these books, wholly and unabashedly.
The reason I’m telling you all this is twofold: first, to prepare you for all the talk about Stephen King I’m likely to subject you to; and second, to announce a new component of this blog – book reviews. For years I wrote at least a few words (and sometimes many, many more) about every book I read on the website Goodreads. I’ve gotten out of the habit recently, but what better opportunity to start up again? So first up will be the book I finished most recently and one from the Stephen King Revisited project: The Eyes of the Dragon. Stay tuned!