Library Lines

So as I sit down to write this week’s Library Lines, it is September 21, which just happens to be author Stephen King’s birthday.
King is one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t read any of his novels, I urge you to do so immediately.
I know what you’re going to say: you don’t like horror.
Fair enough. It’s not my favorite genre either. So for those of you who don’t like dark basements, clowns with really sharp teeth – or just clowns in general – creepy kids who don’t say a whole lot, and/or vampires who live in the walls of your home, it’s okay. You can still read and enjoy Stephen King.
Let me recommend his novel 11/22/63. This is a date some of you will recognize immediately, but for those youngsters out there, that happens to be the date of President Kennedy’s assassination. 11/22/63 is the story of a man who discovers a door to the past. What if—and how this time travel stuff works could mess things up, but—what if he could go back in time and stop Lee Harvey Oswald? What would 2015 look like if Kennedy lives? This is a fascinating book, with no horror in it. I promise.
If you are an aspiring writer yourself, you would be well served to read On Writing, a non-fiction work in which Stephen King gives advice on writing well. You may hate horror, but you have to admit that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the mechanics of writing, given his success.
If you are willing to dip your toes into the weird, without the full horror treatment, I would suggest trying Misery, an oldie but a goodie. It’s the story of a popular author named Paul Sheldon who is involved in a car accident. He wakes up to find that he has been “rescued” by a woman who turns out to be a fan of his novels. Annie is a big fan. In fact, she is a little upset by his last novel, in which he kills off her favorite heroine. So, she has a wonderful idea. Paul can stay with her, and write a new novel while he recuperates. In fact, writing that novel and bringing his character back to life is a condition of his release. Annie proves to be pretty persuasive, in a tense, terrifying sort of way.
Not only is King celebrating another birthday, but last week he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists by the U.S. government. The medal goes to those who are “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.” A very high honor and one which I think he deserved.
For those of you who are already King converts – I hate to use “fans” after reading Misery – the good news for you is that he is releasing a new book November 3, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, a collection of stories and poems with author commentary on how and why each tale was conceived and written. You may want to proceed with caution with this new book—or you may find you love Stephen King.

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