Archive for the ‘Stephen King’ Category

Book Review of ‘The Institute’: King’s Kids Have the Power

September 24, 2019


As a Constant Reader of Stephen King’s since Carrie, one thing I’ve always valued is his ability to take an element of the fantastic (a girl’s massive telekenetic powers in that novel, or vampirism in ‘Salem’s Lot) and enmesh it so much in everyday life that a far-fetched story becomes quite real (a talent which didn’t much apply in the massive otherworldly fantasy saga of The Dark Tower, which is one reason I never warmed to it, even while reading the whole damn thing).

While trading on the could-be-possible though unlikely mental powers of Carrie, Firestarter and the like, The Institute also feels real. That’s one thing which makes the new novel from Scribner so compelling, despite its almost deranged conspiracy-theory bent.

But beyond that, King also sucks us in by making most of his many principal characters kids — not teens, but 12-year-olds on down. And those kids suffer. They suffer mightily. And heroically.


Book Review: Stephen King’s ‘Elevation’ Rises to the Top

October 15, 2018


As an avid reader of America’s greatest storyteller, Stephen King, I’m used to heft. I’m used to 1,000-page novels or even lengthy collections of short stories which provide decent weight-lifting material for 30-rep sessions.

In short, I’m used to fat books from King. I’m certainly not used to books as light as Elevation, new Oct. 30 from Scribner (146 pages, $19.95).

That’s not to say it’s lightweight in substance or in nature, just in pages (and they’re small ones — but so blessedly easy to read). It is to say that this book, while billed as a novel, is really more of a novella or a protracted short story. But who cares about semantics? It’s still a warm, witty and wonderful read.


Book Review of Stephen King’s ‘The Outsider’: Aptly Titled

May 18, 2018


Stephen King’s latest horror work, The Outsider (Scribner, due May 22), is a departure from his oeuvre in several ways, notably in its devotion to today’s popular police procedural dramas. For awhile, King’s 561-page 60th novel is King-sized CSI.

As such, it focuses on analyzing two hellish crimes in which the obvious suspect somehow was in two places at the same time — courtesy of a supernatural being whose pursuit by good-guy lawmen detours the book’s second half into a more eventful cat-and-mouse chase.

The Outsider also is a departure because it’s largely set in Texas and Oklahoma — not exactly King country, unless you count 11/22/63.

King knows Maine, but he doesn’t know Texas, where I’ve lived most of my life (and even in Oklahoma for nearly five years). In fact, I can say with vehement certainty that Stephen don’t know Jack when it comes to either state — nor do his editors, apparently.


‘Sleeping Beauties’ Book Review: Like Father, Like Son

September 24, 2017

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties (Scribner, 700 pages, due Tuesday), Stephen King’s first novel with son Owen, is a sprawling, horrific page-turner with scads of interlaced, potent characters and gut-punch stabs at the dark sides of human nature.

In other words, it reads like a Stephen King novel, and son Owen is clearly on board with that.

I’m unfamiliar with Owen King’s work, so I can’t say what he brings to the fear feast at this table. But I do know Sleeping Beauties will make his papa’s legions of fans pop up — and the father-son collaboration should make papa pop with pride.


Review: ‘Carrie’ 40th Anniversary Edition

October 4, 2016


If you, like me, are a fan of Stephen King, you should have a special place in your heart for Carrie, his first published novel (in 1974), which became the first film based on his now voluminous work (in 1976) and even a musical and a movie remake.

But Carrie is special beyond its firsts. The tale of a sweet girl whose religious zealot mother and cruel classmates push her to use her destructive telekinetic powers to the max, it’s simply a great King yarn, and it’s fascinating to explore how it changed, while keeping the same central characters and spirit, in director Brian De Palma’s film version.

You can do this by picking up Scream Factory’s new two-disc Blu-ray “Collector’s Edition” for the film’s 40th anniversary year, due Oct. 11. Along with a new 4K scan of the film’s original negative, it’s got loads of extras for dissecting and probing the production, some of which are repeats (trailers, TV spots, radio spots, still gallery, etc.) and some of which are new.


Book review: Stephen King’s ‘End of Watch’

June 3, 2016


Stephen King’s End of Watch (Scribner, 431 pages, due June 7) is the kind of book for which the term “page-turner” was invented. (Note: It’s not to be confused with a 2012 cop movie of the same title.)

A riveting read from start to finish, End of Watch rousingly concludes the saga of retired-cop-turned-private-detective Bill Hodges who, along with sympathetic cohorts, confronts a final appalling plot by the deranged killer of Mr. Mercedes, who spent follow-up book Finders Keepers in a vegetative state.

Or did he?


‘The Bazaar of Bad Dreams’ Book Review: Short ‘n’ Sweet

November 18, 2015


Ask many people to name Stephen King’s occupation and they’d say “novelist.” And they’d be wrong.

Yes, King has written a library’s worth of novels, some of them topping 1,000 pages. But he’s also written hundreds of short stories — enough to make The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, new from Scribner, his 10th such collection. And short stories, I’d argue, are clearly among his narrative strengths, especially in his beloved horror genre.

As King himself says in the book, “There’s something to be said for a shorter, more intense experience.”

I agree. The Stand may be a page-turner, but that’s too many pages to turn in one riveting experience. “A Death,” on the other hand, which is one of Bazaar’s most compelling reads, clocks in at 14 pages.


Book Review of Stephen King’s ‘Finders Keepers’: A Keeper

June 6, 2015

Finders KeepersOne conceit I’ve always allowed Stephen King even while resisting it is his tendency to make everyone an avid reader. In book after book, diverse, hard-pressed characters in duress will suddenly reflect on a passage by an author they loved, as if this would happen in real life. But King himself is an avid reader, not just writer, and it pleases him to lace his narratives in beloved literary contexts.

With his new Finders Keepers (Scribner), as with Misery years before it, King’s narrative isn’t just laced with anecdotal references to literary affections — it’s utterly and dangerously galvanized by obsession with a novelist.

In this case, the obsession starts with a 1970s bad bongo, Morris Bellamy, who murders reclusive writer John Rothstein not just for his cache of cash but for a rumored treasure trove of writings he’d penned and squirreled away since retiring at his career’s peak after producing three acclaimed novels about a Holden Caulfield type character.

Cut to 2009, when Bellamy nears release from prison after decades and is hell-bent on recovering the writer’s notebooks he hid near his home in Ohio — a home now occupied by a teen, Pete Saubers, who coincidentally shares his obsession with Rothstein and coincidentally uncovers the treasure where it’s buried nearby. (Yes, coincidences do happen — but in this book they happen a lot.)


Book Review Stephen King’s ‘Doctor Sleep’

September 22, 2013

Doctor Sleep

Though incredibly prolific, Stephen King has been loathe to produce sequels to his works. With The Shining — considered by many to be his greatest novel — he makes an exception: a riveting waking nightmare called Doctor Sleep.

Due Tuesday, Sept. 24 from Scribner ($30), it revisits the character of The Shining’s supernaturally gifted young Danny Torrance, now grown and nearing middle age as he fends of his late father’s alcohol demons and applies his “shining” powers at a hospice where the old go to die. (more…)