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(Boston Globe)   A handy graph of Stephen King's critical reception over the decades. Apparently they didn't know he was doing his best work thirty years ago   (bostonglobe.com) divider line 52
    More: Silly, JFK Assassination, chain reactions  
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3783 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 30 Sep 2013 at 12:43 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-09-30 12:49:38 AM  
2003 Awarded The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In the Boston Globe, critic Harold Bloom calls this decision "another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life."

Criticism from Harold Bloom is a badge of honor in my opinion.
 
2013-09-30 12:51:38 AM  
A bunch of cliched crap.
 
2013-09-30 12:54:05 AM  
He's an author in terrible need of an editor who's not afraid of him.

He's also far more capable at writing short stories and novellas than the novels he's known for. His pulpy style fits short-form prose much better (and the best movies based off his work have come from the short stories he's written).

Some of his novels are good, but mostly because they have memorable scenes and interesting hooks. The Talisman and Eyes of the Dragon are both fairly good novels that deviate from his normal association with horror.

I'll never understand why anyone could defend the last three Dark Tower books. The first three (and many parts of the fourth) are fairly good, even if The Wastelands gets a little weird. But wow, does the quality drop off from there.
 
2013-09-30 12:56:01 AM  

Big_Doofus: A bunch of cliched crap.


Yeah, but Stephen King made up a lot of those cliches.
 
2013-09-30 01:07:58 AM  
images2.wikia.nocookie.net
 
2013-09-30 01:13:42 AM  

Confabulat: Big_Doofus: A bunch of cliched crap.

Yeah, but Stephen King made up a lot of those cliches.


I want to take the fact that I have a working knowledge of horror literature in the first half of the 19th century and just say "ha, ha, no" outright.  Stephen King is the literary equivalent of a competent pop artist, he's known to be reliable and reasonably craft-ful in his output but none of the individual works are anything particularly brilliant.  He sort of defines "generic" in terms of horror, nothing he does is new or terribly interesting in itself but it's reasonably entertaining.

But I guess I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.  What horror standards do you think King originated?
 
2013-09-30 01:16:12 AM  
I remember during high school when we were told for one class that we could pick any book we wanted for our report, except for Stephen King since he wasn't a "real" writer
.

secularsage: He's also far more capable at writing short stories and novellas than the novels he's known for. His pulpy style fits short-form prose much better (and the best movies based off his work have come from the short stories he's written).


I have to agree with this. I've read tons of his books, but the only ones I make a point of buying are his short stories.
 
2013-09-30 01:19:16 AM  

Jim_Callahan: nothing he does is new or terribly interesting in itself but it's reasonably entertaining


not interesting, yet entertaining?

ok...
 
2013-09-30 01:19:16 AM  

Jim_Callahan: What horror standards do you think King originated?


The Magic Negro.
 
2013-09-30 01:45:05 AM  
I used to read a lot of Kings books.  Not necessarily because I was a fan, but because they were sold at airports, and I used to travel a lot.   The books were about the right length to cover a round trip of 4 hours per leg.  Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler received similar attention.   Same reason.   They never sold decent science fiction at airport bookshops.
 
2013-09-30 02:23:53 AM  

Jim_Callahan: Confabulat: Big_Doofus: A bunch of cliched crap.

Yeah, but Stephen King made up a lot of those cliches.

I want to take the fact that I have a working knowledge of horror literature in the first half of the 19th century and just say "ha, ha, no" outright.  Stephen King is the literary equivalent of a competent pop artist, he's known to be reliable and reasonably craft-ful in his output but none of the individual works are anything particularly brilliant.  He sort of defines "generic" in terms of horror, nothing he does is new or terribly interesting in itself but it's reasonably entertaining.

But I guess I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.  What horror standards do you think King originated?


Who said that it had to be horror? I'll give King props for the first four Dark Tower novels (as secularsage noted above), not so much for themselves but because they are the first that I know of to seamlessly blend multiple genres (not like Pier Xanthony's "Apprentice Adept" novels that had a set boundary [a "curtain" in fact] between the fantasy and pseudo-SF worlds), nor like "Cowboys & Aliens" where it made a big point of mixing two genres that normally wouldn't go together (though I do recall a horror western movie decades ago: Dracula in a Wild West setting).

In one of the later books when he got all metafictional after his van accident, he had his characters refer to this, wondering if readers preferred stories to be all one "thing" or if they'd try several genres blended into a "stew."

You have to admit, those first few books of the series do an excellent job of this: Tolkienesque high fantasy (Gilead, the Man in Black, Merlyn's Rainbow, etc.), SF (the technology of the Old Ones, not to mention the whole interdimensional travel thing), horror (even before the later silly inclusion of Father Calahan and vampires, you had the demons, lobstrosities, etc.), and Western (duh!), in roughly equal measure, all blended seamlessly without hard divisions between them nor relegating them to different "worlds" or "realms" or "dimensions" or some such ― yes, basically, a "stew."

Has anyone else done anything like that on that level prior to him?
 
2013-09-30 03:02:19 AM  

COMALite J: ou have to admit, those first few books of the series do an excellent job of this: Tolkienesque high fantasy (Gilead, the Man in Black, Merlyn's Rainbow, etc.), SF (the technology of the Old Ones, not to mention the whole interdimensional travel thing), horror (even before the later silly inclusion of Father Calahan and vampires, you had the demons, lobstrosities, etc.), and Western (duh!), in roughly equal measure, all blended seamlessly without hard divisions between them nor relegating them to different "worlds" or "realms" or "dimensions" or some such ― yes, basically, a "stew."

Has anyone else done anything like that on that level prior to him?


Gene Wolfe's Books of the New Sun.
 
2013-09-30 03:10:26 AM  
Heh, I remember King books from my middle-school/early highschool years, and it was considered daring stuff cause you knew King would usually throw in a sex scene.  And since this was pre-internet, knowing which authors would be carried by the school AND would have sex in it, was a big deal.
 
2013-09-30 03:42:51 AM  

secularsage: I'll never understand why anyone could defend the last three Dark Tower books. The first three (and many parts of the fourth) are fairly good, even if The Wastelands gets a little weird. But wow, does the quality drop off from there.


So, the middle of book 4 was a good place to stop, then? Great.

I forgot what interrupted my reading it, but even though I had gone through the first three in about a week and a half, and was into the 4th, I ended up putting it down. A couple weeks turned into a couple library renewals, and I eventually returned it unfinished.

But damn, the first three were great.
 
2013-09-30 03:51:34 AM  
His short stories are fantastic,his longer novels tend to drag on for a bit too long and the endings can be disappointing. Never read the Dark Tower series because it seems to be up it's own ass,seriously I read a synopsis of one book and King himself is a character? Nope don't want to read that crap.
 
2013-09-30 04:23:53 AM  
I think this graph shows, better than anything else, that there has always been and will always be douchebags that will disparage popular works, whether it is good work from an accomplished artist or not, because they think it makes them look cooler, smarter, and above what the teeming masses find good.  

Seriously, they gave "It" a bad review?  "The Shining" being called "claptrap?"  Yeah, a bunch of people which could rightfully be called literary hipsters.  I am seeing a good many here too.  There are objectively bad writers out there (Stephanie Myers, looking at you) but King is not one of them.  You don't have a career this long and successful by a fluke.
 
2013-09-30 04:33:12 AM  
encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com
Your average literary or film critic.
 
2013-09-30 05:54:35 AM  
The quality of Stephen King's work is *ahem* uneven.  I think he does a marvelous job of telling stories from the POV of children.
 
2013-09-30 06:01:51 AM  

Shadowknight: Seriously, they gave "It" a bad review? "The Shining" being called "claptrap?"


Wait really? I did not read the article but how the fark can anyone call The Shining claptrap? Is this what hipsters do for fun? Ironically hate everything?
 
2013-09-30 06:33:01 AM  

A Terrible Human: Shadowknight: Seriously, they gave "It" a bad review? "The Shining" being called "claptrap?"

Wait really? I did not read the article but how the fark can anyone call The Shining claptrap? Is this what hipsters do for fun? Ironically hate everything?


It was one of the reviews from when The Shining came out. Not a recent review.
 
2013-09-30 06:58:46 AM  

Jim_Callahan: I want to take the fact that I have a working knowledge of horror literature


What...what does one do with this?
 
2013-09-30 07:25:59 AM  
It's a good thing that I don't take critics word as gold. I love King and he's had very few misses in my mind. Most of the books critics praise bore the hell out of me. I like fun, fast reads with characters that are hard to like. King does that quite well. He's created some characters I absolutely hate and to me that makes him a good author.
 
2013-09-30 07:27:40 AM  

Confabulat: Jim_Callahan: What horror standards do you think King originated?

The Magic Negro.


Woman gaining Power at Menses
 
2013-09-30 07:28:46 AM  

gulogulo: Jim_Callahan: I want to take the fact that I have a working knowledge of horror literature

What...what does one do with this?


It allows you to post a holier-than-thou babble on Fark. That's what you do with it!
 
2013-09-30 07:36:48 AM  

Shadowknight: I think this graph shows, better than anything else, that there has always been and will always be douchebags that will disparage popular works, whether it is good work from an accomplished artist or not, because they think it makes them look cooler, smarter, and above what the teeming masses find good.  

Seriously, they gave "It" a bad review?  "The Shining" being called "claptrap?"  Yeah, a bunch of people which could rightfully be called literary hipsters.  I am seeing a good many here too.  There are objectively bad writers out there (Stephanie Myers, looking at you) but King is not one of them.  You don't have a career this long and successful by a fluke.


This pretty much sums up my thoughts.
 
2013-09-30 07:38:50 AM  

Confabulat: Jim_Callahan: What horror standards do you think King originated?

The Magic Negro.


My wife and I were talking about King last night; she mentioned the exact same thing.
 
2013-09-30 07:42:14 AM  

LlamaGirl: It's a good thing that I don't take critics word as gold. I love King and he's had very few misses in my mind. Most of the books critics praise bore the hell out of me. I like fun, fast reads with characters that are hard to like. King does that quite well. He's created some characters I absolutely hate and to me that makes him a good author.


You might enjoy Christopher Moore (Lamb, Fool, A Dirty Job).

Some years ago I heard some very respected literary figures (the kind that don't usually end up in airport bookstands) praise King for his masterful prose.  Sure, some of it is mass consumption fair, but that takes skill to pull of consistently (See: Vince Gilligan, Christopher Nolan among other popular culture figures).
 
2013-09-30 07:42:54 AM  
I think when king is writing more "normal" stories he is closer to his best. 2 of my favorites are Misery and Delores Clayborne. Both were turned into excellent movies with Kathy Bates btw. I also thought the first half of Duma Key was brilliant, but then it took a sharp horror turn and went on way too long. The Green Mile was also very good with little suspension of disbelief.

I've read the Shining multiple times (always during winter stoms) and From a Buick 8 twice as well.

By far his short stories are best. My Pretty Pony is a beautiful story about the passage of time. Jerry Garcia read it for the audio book and it was astounding.
Actually that entire audio series was brilliantly done.

/not sure where I was going with this.....
 
2013-09-30 08:22:28 AM  
No reviews for his other earlier works that actually put him on the literary bestseller map? Salem's Lot, Silver Bullet? No mention of The Stand?
I find that odd.


For all the critics on here claiming Kings lack of talent, let me direct you to:  Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption or  The Body (Stand By Me).
Not Horror, but definitely well written, thought provoking pieces.

CSB: I was a freshman in Highschool when The Stand Came out. I waited patiently for the rest of the family to finish reading it to get my turn. When it finally got to me, I got to the part in the beginning, where King is describing the symptoms of Captain Trips, and I came down with the most disgusting phlegm inducing, hacking, coughing flu ever. I was convinced that the disease in the book was real and i had contracted it. Very scared 15 yr old.
 
2013-09-30 08:38:55 AM  

1000 Ways to Dye: secularsage: I'll never understand why anyone could defend the last three Dark Tower books. The first three (and many parts of the fourth) are fairly good, even if The Wastelands gets a little weird. But wow, does the quality drop off from there.

So, the middle of book 4 was a good place to stop, then? Great.

I forgot what interrupted my reading it, but even though I had gone through the first three in about a week and a half, and was into the 4th, I ended up putting it down. A couple weeks turned into a couple library renewals, and I eventually returned it unfinished.

But damn, the first three were great.


This EXACT SAME thing happened to me. I devoured the first three, waited years for the fourth like the rabid fanboy I was, got like 100 pages into it, and stopped. Never did finish the series, and from the sounds of things, that's more ok than I'd like to believe.

/Is reading the short stories of Skeleton Crew to his wife out loud
//Mrs Dhabu is awesome like that
 
2013-09-30 08:42:48 AM  

Bhags: No reviews for his other earlier works that actually put him on the literary bestseller map? Salem's Lot, Silver Bullet? No mention of The Stand?
I find that odd.


For all the critics on here claiming Kings lack of talent, let me direct you to:  Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption or  The Body (Stand By Me).
Not Horror, but definitely well written, thought provoking pieces.

CSB: I was a freshman in Highschool when The Stand Came out. I waited patiently for the rest of the family to finish reading it to get my turn. When it finally got to me, I got to the part in the beginning, where King is describing the symptoms of Captain Trips, and I came down with the most disgusting phlegm inducing, hacking, coughing flu ever. I was convinced that the disease in the book was real and i had contracted it. Very scared 15 yr old.


Summer of Corruption (Apt Pupil) was also good. Different Seasons was great with its theme.
 
2013-09-30 09:22:30 AM  

1000 Ways to Dye: secularsage: I'll never understand why anyone could defend the last three Dark Tower books. The first three (and many parts of the fourth) are fairly good, even if The Wastelands gets a little weird. But wow, does the quality drop off from there.

So, the middle of book 4 was a good place to stop, then? Great.

I forgot what interrupted my reading it, but even though I had gone through the first three in about a week and a half, and was into the 4th, I ended up putting it down. A couple weeks turned into a couple library renewals, and I eventually returned it unfinished.

But damn, the first three were great.


book 4 is pretty good, if somewhat of a detour. I've never really liked the post-flashback portion of the book though. After that, it's frustrating, to say the least, because you can see where King wants to go with the story, but the execution is completely off and it gets way more meta than I think King initially meant it to be.
 
2013-09-30 09:31:43 AM  
1000 Ways to Dye [TotalFark]
2013-09-30 03:42:51 AM


secularsage: I'll never understand why anyone could defend the last three Dark Tower books. The first three (and many parts of the fourth) are fairly good, even if The Wastelands gets a little weird. But wow, does the quality drop off from there.

So, the middle of book 4 was a good place to stop, then? Great.

I forgot what interrupted my reading it, but even though I had gone through the first three in about a week and a half, and was into the 4th, I ended up putting it down. A couple weeks turned into a couple library renewals, and I eventually returned it unfinished.

But damn, the first three were great.[/quote[
You both chose wisely
indiana-jones-knight.jpg

After book 4, the series is crap (like all his post-van work is)
 
2013-09-30 09:59:59 AM  
I just finished Doctor Sleep. I liked it. It was good entertainment. Now I'm reading 11/22/63 and so far I like it too. It seems every couple of years I go on a Stephen King binge and read a few of his newer books in a week or so. He's an entertainment writer, a popular entertainment writer. And at that, I think he's pretty good.
 
2013-09-30 10:02:57 AM  

Jim_Callahan: I want to take the fact that I have a working knowledge of horror literature in the first half of the 19th century and just say "ha, ha, no" outright.  Stephen King is the literary equivalent of a competent pop artist, he's known to be reliable and reasonably craft-ful in his output but none of the individual works are anything particularly brilliant.  He sort of defines "generic" in terms of horror, nothing he does is new or terribly interesting in itself but it's reasonably entertaining.


But still far superior to those posting anonymous criticism on internet forums.
 
2013-09-30 10:18:54 AM  
Didn't King himself once say that he's the "literary equivalent of a Big Mac"? Seems to me he doesn't take himself too seriously, and for that alone he should be admired a bit.

I love most of his short stories/novellas, but don't necessarily care for his longer material. Hell, I lost interest and didn't even finish Tommyknockers - too plodding and verbose, but I still re-read stuff like "The Long Walk", "Dolan's Cadillac", and "Roadwork" every few years. I personally think he's better at "human-interest" stories rather than supernatural/horror.
 
2013-09-30 10:25:37 AM  
Stephen King exemplifies the idea I've shoved around that the length of novels and the size of government reflect the ease of writing. When everything has to be hand written, books and government tend to be small and to the point. When you introduce moveable type things can get bigger because what you've hand written can be propagated. Then you get up to typewriters, mimeograph, linotype and xerography , where it's really easy to put words on lots of paper.

Some authors put out lots of modest books, some congressmen put out lots of tight legislation. Some of them put together thousand page wondering items that cover so much no one really reads the whole thing until later. Thus, to get better literature and government I suggest that everything be hand written to begin with.
 
2013-09-30 11:39:22 AM  
Stephen King is like Aerosmith.  Back in the 70's when we were all doing drugs I was a huge fan and couldn't wait for the next new album/book.  As I got older I realized things had changed somehow. I still have a fondness for Pet Semetary/It/The Shining, and find them to be enjoyable rereads on occasion.  I still listen to Rocks or Toys in the Attic and relive some of my misspent youth.  But the newer stuff---meh.  Very hit and miss for me
 
2013-09-30 12:46:25 PM  
Critics trash his work, but for some reason I keep reading and liking his books. Does this possibly mean the critics are worthless?
 
2013-09-30 01:19:54 PM  

baufan2005: Critics trash his work, but for some reason I keep reading and liking his books. Does this possibly mean the critics are worthless?


Or, you're the lowest common denominator.
 
2013-09-30 01:35:25 PM  
Wizard and Glass was probably my favorite book of all the DT books. Those audiobooks I listen to all the time, especially while driving. It and The Stand are two books that are almost always on my bedside table and I pick them up and read a little here, a little there almost every night. Great entertainment.
 
2013-09-30 01:48:16 PM  

baufan2005: Critics trash his work, but for some reason I keep reading and liking his books. Does this possibly mean the critics are worthless?


And somehow, critics liked Tommyknockers best, when in reality, it was nearly the nadir of his writing.
 
2013-09-30 02:00:54 PM  

Fano: And somehow, critics liked Tommyknockers best, when in reality, it was nearly the nadir of his writing.


Really? That's my favorite King novel.
 
2013-09-30 02:23:44 PM  

EyeballKid: baufan2005: Critics trash his work, but for some reason I keep reading and liking his books. Does this possibly mean the critics are worthless?

Or, you're the lowest common denominator.


i.imgur.com
 
2013-09-30 02:55:04 PM  

Tio_Holtzmann: Wizard and Glass was probably my favorite book of all the DT books. Those audiobooks I listen to all the time, especially while driving. It and The Stand are two books that are almost always on my bedside table and I pick them up and read a little here, a little there almost every night. Great entertainment.


I like Wizard and Glass a lot too. I remember how much it pissed people off at the time though, there was a long wait between books 3 and 4 and when people realized it was a prequel a lot of them blew a gasket. It's a prequel, sure, but a really good one and pretty much establishes Roland as a character instead of just a walking cipher. I liked Book Five ok, it does go a bit off the rails with the crazy mashups (the copy I owned had the same typography for chapter headings as the Harry Potter books, later it became obvious why that was done), but yeah, book six is useless, and Book Seven is just all over the place.
 
2013-09-30 04:05:10 PM  

Jim_Callahan: Confabulat: Big_Doofus: A bunch of cliched crap.

Yeah, but Stephen King made up a lot of those cliches.

I want to take the fact that I have a working knowledge of horror literature in the first half of the 19th century and just say "ha, ha, no" outright.  Stephen King is the literary equivalent of a competent pop artist, he's known to be reliable and reasonably craft-ful in his output but none of the individual works are anything particularly brilliant.  He sort of defines "generic" in terms of horror, nothing he does is new or terribly interesting in itself but it's reasonably entertaining.

But I guess I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.  What horror standards do you think King originated?


Egad, you're a douche. Welcome to the pink color.
 
2013-09-30 05:44:22 PM  
His short story collections are always a great read, in particular "The Last Rung on the Ladder" can't be beat.  His earlier novels are my favorites: Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, 'Salem's Lot, and The Talisman - in my opinion, those books in particular were wonderful to read and re-read.
 
2013-09-30 07:27:43 PM  

Big_Doofus: A bunch of cliched crap.


weknowmemes.com
 
2013-09-30 08:07:51 PM  

Opposable Thumb: His short story collections are always a great read, in particular "The Last Rung on the Ladder" can't be beat. His earlier novels are my favorites: Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, 'Salem's Lot, and The Talisman - in my opinion, those books in particular were wonderful to read and re-read.


His sister's letter always brings a tear to my eye. Last Rung on the Ladder is a story that doesn't get referenced nearly enough. Right up there at the top of his game.  Wasn't someone working on a short?
 
2013-09-30 09:26:25 PM  

log_jammin: I remember during high school when we were told for one class that we could pick any book we wanted for our report, except for Stephen King since he wasn't a "real" writer
.

secularsage: He's also far more capable at writing short stories and novellas than the novels he's known for. His pulpy style fits short-form prose much better (and the best movies based off his work have come from the short stories he's written).

I have to agree with this. I've read tons of his books, but the only ones I make a point of buying are his short stories.


I don't mind owning most of his stuff. I don't like them all, but I have no problem buying them. I agree though, his short stories are his best. He bungles the ending in his novels quite often, but that's OK, because I like the entire journey as a whole, usually. I don't mind his insane amount of details, it helps me get to know his characters like they were actual people I've known my whole life, and it shows who he thinks the monsters REALLY are. They aren't supernatural creatures, his biggest monsters reside in the human heart.

It's funny that the stuff that got round after round of bad press was his best stuff. The Shining, Firestarter, Cujo, really?
 
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