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KING ME: Strong Words about a Non-Fictional Character

KING ME: Strong Words about a Non-Fictional Character

I recently got an email with the subject line “Strong Feelings about Fictional Characters” that laid out some info on Game of Thrones. That is basically what this document is, without the incest, fairytale renaissance setting and lack of central focus. This is Strong Feelings about a Non-fictional Character.

Yesterday, Haley asked me what Stephen King books might serve as vacation reads, and once I copied the bibliography over from Wikipedia the words just started flowing. This is the result (Click here for the super-nerdy, ridiculously color-coded Word download (yes, I'm that person).):

THE COMPLETE-ish KING

(according to me, as of 6/27/13)

I didn’t include re-releases (The Gunslinger, Salem’s Lot, The Stand, It, etc.).

Also, I don’t know anything about the stories that he issued only as e-books. But if you happen to download them…let me know.

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Stephen King was born in 1947, which makes him a year younger than my dad and explains a lot. (I just used “a lot.” Blegh. Sorry about that.) If I was asked to describe Stephen King’s “signature move,” I’d say it’s probably his late 1950s and 1960s pop culture references (there are other words that should go here to make this a complete thought, but my brain won’t come up with them so here are some filler words). I’ve noticed that many popular writers today tag their works with too much pop culture – or so niche a subject or specific a time period – that it translates as faddish and keeps their books from being relevant on a second reading. Somehow, even though we’re in 2013 and his characters are humming strains from Jan & Dean, this doesn’t trap SK. He uses pop culture to his advantage while staying firmly rooted in whatever world he’s creating (although sometimes, yes, it’s the 50s and 60s). He’s brilliant. A master.

Some things to know – Stephen King wrote as Richard Bachman early in his career. He still uses the Bachman name every now and then, most notably when he released The Regulators and Desperation as companion books. (Check out their covers pasted side-by-side.) He has other pseudonyms but I’m not familiar with them. Apparently he was able to write as Bachman until into the 80s without anyone discovering it was him. Neato!

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Carrie, 1974

‘Salem’s Lot, 1975

The Shining, 1977

Rage, 1977 (Richard Bachman)

Night Shift, 1978 (collection) – Includes short stories “Jerusalem’s Lot” (which later became the novel ‘Salem’s Lot, “The Mangler,” “Graveyard Shift,” “Children of the Corn,” “Trucks” (adapted into Maximum Overdrive and Trucks**), “Sometimes They Come Back” and “The Lawnmower Man.”

The Stand, 1978 – To me, the TV miniseries (1994) of this book is where the production value of his stuff started going up again. The miniseries is a TREASURE. M – o – o – n, that spells treasure. Also, if you haven’t seen it yet…once you do, let’s talk about how Jamey Sheridan should’ve played Robert Langdon in the Dan Brown movies.

The Long Walk, 1979 (Richard Bachman)

The Dead Zone, 1979

Firestarter, 1980

Roadwork, 1981 (Richard Bachman)

Danse Macabre, 1981 (non-fiction)

Cujo, 1981 – This is about a mean dog, in case you didn’t already know. NOT my favorite.

The Running Man, 1982 (Richard Bachman)

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, 1982

Creepshow, 1982 (comic) – This was made into a horror anthology film; stories from other books were used in the movie Creepshow 2.

Different Seasons, 1982 (collection) – Includes novellas “The Body” (Stand by Me), “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” (Shawshank Redemption).

Christine, 1983 – This is the first SK book my dad gave me to read. Oh, the memories.

Pet Sematary, 1983

Cycle of the Werewolf, 1983

The Talisman, 1984 (with Peter Straub)

Thinner, 1984 (Richard Bachman)

Skeleton Crew, 1985 (collection) – For me, this collection has more stories that provide immediate recall than any other book I’ve ever read. EVER. Because of this, I’d say this is my favorite Stephen King publication and possibly one of my favorite books of all time. It includes short stories “The Mist” and “The Raft.”

The Bachman Books, 1985 (collection, Richard Bachman) – I think this included stories like The Running Man, but I’m not sure so I included it as a first-run.

It, 1986

The Eyes of the Dragon, 1987

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three, 1987

Misery, 1987

The Tommyknockers, 1987

Nightmares in the Sky, 1988 (non-fiction)

The Dark Half, 1989 – I just learned they made this into a movie (Timothy Hutton!); this is probably my second favorite, although Duma Key also holds a special place in my heart.

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He coached his son’s Little League team to the LL World Series in 1989. I can’t find it online, but I’ve heard that currently he either pays for some Little League teams, or possibly a community ballpark?, in Bangor. I feel like I’ve heard this enough that it is true.

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Four Past Midnight, 1990 (collection) – Includes “The Langoliers,” “Secret Window, Secret Garden” (Secret Window); Note: You’ve probably seen Secret Window. If you haven’t, stop reading – SPOILERS AHEAD. If you have, and want to read something that includes that kind of plot twist, read The Dark Half instead of this short story. Or, at least read both of them. I don’t think I’m giving anything away re: The Dark Half by saying this.)

The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, 1991

Needful Things, 1991

Gerald’s Game, 1992 – You could say this about so many of his books, but this is the first one I remember reading and thinking “This is EFFED UP.”

Dolores Claiborne, 1992

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King joined the Rock Bottom Remainders in ’92. Read about them – pretty awesome stuff.

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Nightmares & Dreamscapes, 1993 (collection)

Insomnia, 1994

Rose Madder, 1995

The Green Mile, 1996 – Fun fact: Originally released as several serial paperbacks, now released in one edition.

Desperation, 1996 (tied to The Regulators)

The Regulators, 1996 (Richard Bachman – tied to Desperation)

Six Stories, 1997 (collection)

The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, 1997

Bag of Bones, 1998

Storm of the Century, 1999 (screenplay)

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, 1999 – This is a unique King tale, but I liked it. Don’t read this on your vacation unless you want to wake the kids up every half hour to hug them and tell them you love them, though.

The New Lieutenant’s Rap, 1999 (short story)

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Somewhere in here, SK was hit by a van while walking near his home in Maine. I’m not sure how many of these had been released, but judging by the tone of his ’99 books and everything that follows for the next few years, I’m going to say they were all already deep in the publication process. I’ve read that Dreamcatcher was the first book he really worked on after the accident.

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Hearts in Atlantis, 1999 (collection) – Includes “Low Men in Yellow Coats” (Hearts in Atlanis)

Blood and Smoke, 1999 (collection)

“Riding the Bullet,” 2000 (e-book, also contained in Everything’s Eventual)

On Writing, 2000 (non-fiction) – Hint: If someone tells you they don’t like this book, what they’re really saying is they don’t like the written word.

Secret Windows, 2000 (non-fiction)

The Plant, 2000 (e-book)

Dreamcatcher, 2001

Black House, 2001 (with Peter Straub, sequel to The Talisman)

Everything’s Eventual, 2002 (collection) – Includes “1408” and “Riding the Bullet”

From a Buick 8, 2002

The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, 2003

The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah, 2004

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, 2004

Faithful, 2004 (with Stewart O’Nan, non-fiction)

The Colorado Kid, 2005

Cell, 2006

Lisey’s Story, 2006 – In my mind, I give this one the subtitle How Stephen Got His Groove Back. I haven’t read the later Dark Tower books, so I can’t speak for them, but it seemed to me that SK really found himself again with this book. The subject matter doesn’t hurt.

Blaze, 2007 (Richard Bachman)

Duma Key, 2008 – SK is full on “Heeerrrrre’s Johnny!” in this book. Again, the subject matter didn’t hurt, but I admit to getting teary while reading this – out of pride, relief and just general warm fuzzies that SK had faced his demons (after the accident) and pulled through. LOVE this book.†

Just After Sunset, 2008 (collection)

Stephen King Goes to the Movies, 2009 (collection, non-fiction (probably from his EW column?))

Ur, 2009 (e-book)

Under the Dome, 2009

Blockade Billy, 2010 (novella)

Full Dark, No Stars, 2010  (collection) – I liked this, but it was aptly named. Don’t read this one on vacation.

Mile 81, 2011 (e-book)

11/22/63, 2011 – This book is one big Easter Egg. I loved it…supposedly it’s in talks for production through Bad Robot! (I just threw my imaginary mortarboard in the air.)

American Vampire, 2011 (with Scott Snyder, comic)

“Throttle,” 2012 (with Joe Hill (his son!), e-book)

The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole, 2012

A Face in the Crowd, 2012 (with Stewart O’Nan, e-book)

“In the Tall Grass,” 2012 (with Joe Hill, e-book)

“GUNS,” 2013 (non-fiction, e-book)

Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, 2013 (play; This is with John Cougar Mellancamp (or whatever iteration of that he’s going by these days) and looks awesome, but is expensive on Amazon.com.)

Joyland, 2013

The Dark Man: An Illustrated Poem, 2013 (poem, still in pre-release, I think)

Doctor Sleep, 2013 (Will release in September; sequel to The Shining) – I’m really excited about this, and if you decide to give SK more than just a trial run, definitely read The Shining so that you’re ready for this.

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You know how I love “reunion” shows, well, it all started with the SK universe. GET IT, GIRL!

**I find Trucks to be the better adaptation of this story, mainly because Timothy Busfield. Also, don’t read this on vacation if your family stops at interstate rest areas for breaks.

I know that I’m a little too concerned about SK’s well-being. But I’ve been reading his books for over twenty years now, and he’s like the Bizarro Bill Cosby in the Htrae of my literary upbringing. A father figure, or at least cool Uncle.


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