View Full Version : The Pop Of King By Stephen King (the back page of entertainment weekly)

05-20-2007, 10:28 AM
I thought I'd post SK's monthly column in here.

this is from april 6th

The Pop of King
How to Bury a Book
Letting ''Fieldwork'' go to waste -- The Pop of King wonders why Mischa Berlinski's new book was ignored by his publisher
By Stephen King Stephen King
This isn't exactly a book review; it's more one of those good news/bad news things. Both concern a new novel called Fieldwork, written by Mischa Berlinski and published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

First the good news: This is a great story. It has an exotic locale, mystery, and a narrative voice full of humor and sadness. Reading Fieldwork is like discovering an unpublished Robertson Davies novel; as with Davies, you can't stop reading until midnight (good), and you don't hate yourself in the morning (better). It's a Russian doll of a read, filled with stories within stories. The first belongs to the book's narrator, also called Mischa Berlinski. The fictional Berlinski is a lazy-ass journalist in Thailand who makes out — barely — reviewing books, music, and men's clothes. Mischa's friend Josh has his own story to tell. ''You ever been in a Thai jail?'' he asks Mischa over lunch, and we're off and running.

Prison is where Josh met Martiya van der Leun, an American anthropologist who studied an obscure mountain tribe, ended up in prison for the murder of a missionary, and killed herself by swallowing a ball of opium (what a way to go).

All this happens in the first 15 pages, and I defy any reader not to press on. The core of Fieldwork is the Maugham-esque tragedy of Martiya, who loses not just one culture but two, for the oldest reason in the world: love. It's also the story of David Walker, who leaves his missionary calling to follow Jerry Garcia and his bandmates across America. He is called back to Thailand — and his fatal appointment with Martiya — when he hears Jerry sing a hymn at a Dead concert in Eugene, Oregon.

It's the mystery of Martiya and David that tugs the reader through these colorful, smoothly written pages. How could two such fundamentally nice people end up as murderer and victim? Berlinski eventually provides an answer that's as shocking as it is satisfying.

If this is such a good read, what's the bad news? That's easy. As of March 26, Fieldwork was No. 24,571 on the Amazon best-seller list, and not apt to go much higher. The reason why is illustrative of how the book biz became the invalid of the entertainment industry, and why fiction sales are down across the board (with the possible exception of chick lit). Critics, with their stubborn insistence that there's a difference between ''literature'' and ''popular fiction,'' are part of the problem, but the publishers themselves, who have bought into this elitist twaddle, are also to blame. Since we're talking Fieldwork, take Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Publishing houses have two faces. In the case of FSG, Jekyll belongs to the distinguished company that has published such award-winning novels as Gilead, The Great Fire, and The Corrections. Hyde is the side which seems to proclaim ''Don't read this, it's too smart for the likes of you.''

Look at the covers. Gilead's is a turquoise smear. The Great Fire's is a red smear. And Fieldwork's cover is a green smear (probably jungle) and a gray smear (probably sky). It communicates nothing.

Or take the titles. The Corrections could be about revising term papers, and Fieldwork could be a treatise on farming. In his acknowledgments, Berlinski tells us the editor hung that says-nothing title on the book. The guy should have stuck to editing. And if a writer himself can't come up with a title that makes prospective buyers itch to pick up the damn thing, leave the job to the PR department. Both Gilead and The Corrections eventually sold well, but not because of the publisher; both won prizes, and Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections) had Oprah going for him.

I picked Fieldwork up because I saw interesting words on the flap (fascination, taboo, sexual), but when I think about how close I came to passing it by, I just get mad. As it was, I grabbed it on impulse, thinking: I know you don't want me to buy you, you dull-looking thing, but I'm going to. Just to spite you.

Why, why, why would a company publish a book this good and then practically demand that people not read it? Why should this book go to waste? Is it because there are people in publishing who believe that readers who liked The Memory Keeper's Daughter are too dumb to enjoy a killer novel like Fieldwork? If so, shame on them for their elitism. Hey, guys, why not put the heroine on the jacket? Martiya in the jungle at night, or embracing her lover, or dancing with the native tribe of which she almost becomes a member? In other words, why not actually sell this baby a little?

It occurs to me that publishers may confuse ''selling'' with ''pimping.'' If so, here's a flash: They're not the same. Sell this one, and you make it possible for this guy to write the next one. You're doing him a mitzvah. And not just him. What about the ordinary reader? In case you forgot, guys, we are your friends, not unwashed, unlettered, germ-laden interlopers at the literary feast.

You don't want to do your job? Okay, I'll do it.

Under the drab title and the drab cover, there's a story that cooks like a mother. It's called Fieldwork.

05-20-2007, 11:44 PM
SK does a page in one of the magazines over here thats mainly targetted at 25-39yr old women and he talks about his music and the current bands and songs that he likes or thinks are the shit. Its pretty good but I'm at a loss as to why its in Woman's Day instead of Empire or Rolling Stone

05-21-2007, 07:27 PM
LOL...I don't think they would allow SK in the US version of Women's Day. I mean if it doesn't have anything to do with getting your kids to stop wetting the bed, or the latest/greatest apple pie recipe, it isn't going to make the monthly cut!

But I would love to see what he does over there!

05-21-2007, 07:41 PM
Ill see if I can find it somewhere :)

05-23-2007, 06:36 AM
More fodder for the web pages :nana:

05-23-2007, 07:47 AM
Now I'm going to have to pick that book up. :lol:

05-24-2007, 09:52 AM
What a book with someone touring across America with Jerry Garcia? Sounds like my teenage years, lol. This alone will make me buy the book.

btw, a great rant!

07-08-2007, 04:14 PM
The Pop of King
Goodbye, Harry
Our columnist knows from writing his ''Dark Tower'' series that every story needs closure -- even if one ending can't please 'em all

Jon Furniss/WireImage.com

By Stephen King Stephen King
I'm having a day of mixed feelings: happy because I'm reading the manuscript of a novel that's full of magic, mystery, and monsters; sad because it will be finished tomorrow and on my shelf, with all its secrets told and its surviving characters set free to live their own lives (if characters have lives beyond the end of a novel — I've always felt they do). It's called The Monsters of Templeton, by Lauren Groff, and it will be published early next year.

Did you think I meant the final Harry Potter tale? Don't be a sillykins — not even your Uncle Stevie gets that one in advance (although I'm sure you agree that he should, he should). But I expect to face the same feelings, only stronger, when the pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows dwindle down to the final few. Hell, I had trouble saying goodbye to Tony Soprano, and let's face it — he was a turd. Harry's one of the good guys. One of the great guys, in fact, and the same holds true for his friends.

The sense of sadness I feel at the approaching end of The Monsters of Templeton isn't just because the story's going to be over; when you read a good one — and this is a very good one — those feelings are deepened by the realization that you probably won't tie into anything that much fun again for a long time. This particular melancholy deepens even more when the story is spread over multiple volumes. I felt it as I approached the end of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy, more strongly as I neared the conclusion of Frodo's quest in The Lord of the Rings, and with painful keenness when, as the writer, I got to the end of The Dark Tower, which stretched over seven volumes and a quarter century's writing time.

When it comes to Harry, part of me — a fairly large part, actually — can hardly bear to say goodbye. I'd guess that J.K. Rowling feels the same, although I'd also guess those feelings are mingled with the relief of knowing that the work is finally done, for better or worse.

And I'm a grown-up, for God's sake — a damn Muggle! Think how it must be for all the kids who were 8 when Harry debuted in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, with its cartoon jacket and modest (500 copies) first edition. Those kids are now 18, and when they close the final book, they will be in some measure closing the book on their own childhoods — magic summers spent in the porch swing, or reading under the covers at camp with flashlights in hand, or listening to Jim Dale's recordings on long drives to see Grandma in Cincinnati or Uncle Bob in Wichita. My advice to families containing Harry Potter readers: Stock up on the Kleenex. You're gonna need it. It's all made worse by one unavoidable fact: It's not just Harry. It's time to say goodbye to the whole cast, from Moaning Myrtle to Scabbers the rat (a.k.a. Wormtail). Which leads to an interesting question — will the final volume satisfy Harry's longtime (and very devoted) readers?

Although the only thing we can be sure of is that Deathly Hallows won't end in a 10-second blackout (you're going to hear that a lot in the next few weeks), my guess is that large numbers of readers will not be satisfied even if Harry survives (I'm betting he will) and Lord Voldemort is vanquished (I'm betting on this, too, although evil is never vanquished for long). I'm partly drawing on my own experience with The Dark Tower (reader satisfaction with the ending was low — tough titty, since it was the only one I had); partly on my belief that very few long works end as felicitously as Tolkien's Rings series, with its beautiful pilgrimage into the Grey Havens; but mostly on the fact that there is that sadness, that inevitable parting from characters who have been loved deeply by many. The Internet blog sites will be full of this was bad and that was wrong, but it's going to boil down to something that many will feel and few will come right out and state: No ending can be right, because it shouldn't be over at all. The magic is not supposed to go away.

Rowling will almost certainly go on to other works, and they may be terrific, but it won't be quite the same, and I'm sure she knows that. Readers will be able to go back and reread the existing books — as I've gone back to Tolkien, as my wife goes back to Patrick O'Brian's wonderful sea stories featuring Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin, as others do with novels featuring Travis McGee or Lord Peter Wimsey — and rereading is a great pleasure, but it's not the bated-breath, what's-gonna-happen-next suspense that Potter readers have enjoyed since 1997. And, of course, Harry's audience is different. It is, in large part, made up of children who will be experiencing these unique and rather terrible feelings for the first time.

But there's comfort. There are always more good stories, and now and then there are great stories. They come along if you wait for them. And here's something I believe in my heart: No story can be great without closure. There must be closure, because it's the human condition. And since that's how it is, I'll be in line with my money in my hand on July 21.

And, I must admit, sorrow in my heart.

07-09-2007, 06:39 AM
Thanks for posting this Sarah! If Steve-O is one thing, it's insightful to the human condition with all it's wants and needs.

I think he is 100% right in saying mass disappointment in a final book is inevitable. I was one of the few who wasn't pissed off by his last book. While I didn't want it to end, I too knew it needed to and considering it wasn't a "choose your own adventure" book, I also knew I was at the mercy of Mr. King. I knew some would die. And I was ok with that. I wasn't expecting the amount of kleenex I would use, and I didn't expect the very end, but again, I had prepared myself for the worst.

And as many of you already know, I have been one of the few who have managed to steer clear of the Harry Potter mania which has taken mainstream America and the rest of the world by storm for the past decade. Hell, I haven't even seen the movies (because I swore when I did start on this particular journey, I wanted to be able to read them first).

But I have started now, regardless of being a little late in the game. I finished the first HP book last night and have the second one sitting here next to me at work as I type this. I have little doubt that I won't be as moved by the last book as some who have been with these characters for the last ten years. I think waiting in anticipation has a lot to do with any series, and I'm not having to do that with HP like I did with TDT.

Still, in writing that, I will feel the same way for the last book as I did before. They aren't my characters, this isn't my journey, but I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to read about them. And with that attitude, hopefully I'll never be disappointed.

07-25-2007, 04:32 PM
An interesting article Steve King writes (it could be in People in the states, im not sure):


07-25-2007, 04:34 PM
'Twas in Entertainment Weekly here in the States.

07-26-2007, 04:20 AM
I've read that - I was sure I'd read it on this site...?

07-26-2007, 01:34 PM
You did, I believe Maeryln posted it somewhere.

07-29-2007, 05:34 PM
argh, sorry Maerlyn, I didnt see your thread back there :) Now we have a nice pic too, though

07-30-2007, 06:32 AM

07-31-2007, 10:27 AM
where's his review of the deathly hallows?! :panic:

07-31-2007, 05:11 PM
he didn't do one yet. One of the other writers did a little something. I'll see if I can find it then I'll post it in the hp thread

08-02-2007, 12:29 AM
almost finished deathly hallows, only been able to read it at lunch time recently. 50 pages to go! OoOoOOOO

08-07-2007, 03:31 PM
The Pop of King
The Joy of Looking
A random videoclip chanced upon while channel-flipping reminds Stephen King why we care about movies, TV, music, books, and other entertainment -- because it makes us happy

By Stephen King Stephen King

In the entertainment business we talk so much — books, music, movies, theater, blah blah blah — that it's easy to forget why we came to the party in the first place. I got reminded the other day on a hotel treadmill, of all places. The little TV attached to mine got only four channels, so following the immutable First Law of TV Viewing, known to network execs the world over as LOP (least objectionable programming), I opted for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Of course I did. The other choices were Judge Judy, Nancy Grace, and some weird infomercial about scarfing up Chinese herbal remedies and living forever.

It turns out that Ms. DeGeneres has a video segment featuring innocuous and mildly amusing stuff, like babies making faces and cats unscrewing the tops of their food containers with their cute li'l pawsies. Only on this day there was a clip so striking that I stopped my daily walk to nowhere and just watched, first grinning, then laughing and actually hugging myself with delight.

I checked out a longer version of the video on YouTube. It was shot by a high-angle security camera and shows a customer shopping in Best Buy — just an ordinary fortysomething dude dressed in jeans, a black T-shirt, and sunglasses. Looks like that male-pattern baldness thing is starting to make itself known in his life. He's shopping, I guess. Then the clip's audio kicks in with one of the greatest rock songs of all time: ''Going to a Go-Go,'' by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. (No, it's not on my list. Silly me, I forgot it.) Shopper dude with the thinning hair starts to move a little. Checks out something on the counter of a momentarily unattended checkout station. It's of no interest to him, but the music starts to hit him. He pops a hip. And then — great God A'mighty — he starts to dance. Before long he's really busting moves; I mean this guy is doing his duty and shaking his booty. If your Uncle Stevie is lyin', he's dyin'.

For more than a minute the guy is giving it his best there in Best Buy, having the time of his life. At the end of the vid, someone comes into the picture and accosts him. It might be store security, sent by the grinches in management to make him stop — the clip ends before that's clear — but I'd rather believe the two of them ended up dancing side by side, doing the Chorus Line thing. I know I would have joined him if I'd been there.

The whole deal might have been staged — so many of them are these days, lonelygirl15 being a case in point — but it doesn't matter. The crazy guy dancing in Best Buy, be he fake or fact, demonstrates the real purpose of these things we write about — to cause a sudden burst of happy emotion, a sudden rush to the head, the feet, and what may be the truest home of joy: a butt that just has to shake its happy self.

I felt it when I saw Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. I sat there amazed and full of happiness, thinking: ''Yeah. This is exactly what I wanted today.'' I feel it every time I listen to ''Jump'' by Van Halen or ''You've Got Another Thing Comin''' by Judas Priest. I feel it every time I put on my club mix of Lou Bega's ''Mambo No. 5.'' I'm sure some of you think that's silly, but you probably have your own personal joy buzzers (for a very hip friend of mine who shall go unnamed in this piece, it's the Dolly Parton version of ''I Will Always Love You'').

It's easy — maybe too easy — to get caught up in serious discussions of good and bad, or to grade entertainment the way teachers grade school papers (as EW does, in case you missed it). Those discussions have their place, even though we know in our hearts that all such judgments — even of the humble art produced by the pop culture — are purely subjective. And as a veteran grade-grind in my youth, I have no problem with awarding A's, B's, and the occasional F to movies, books, and CDs (which is not to say I don't also have reservations about such drive-by critiques). But artsy/intellectual discussions have little to do with how I felt when I saw Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects. This movie made virtually no one's top 10 list except mine, but I'll never forget some exuberant (and possibly drunk) moviegoer in the front row shouting: ''This movie KICKS ASS!'' I felt the same way. Because it did. The same way Smokey & the Miracles kick it — even in Best Buy.

I'm not talking about guilty pleasures here. Guilty pleasures aren't even overrated; the idea is meaningless, an elitist concept invented by smarmy intellectuals with nothing better to do. I'm talking about the pure happiness that strikes like a lightning bolt out of George Strait's blue clear sky (another sacred occasion of joy for me). It's the way I feel about The Wire. The way I feel about Forest Whitaker in The Shield, offering Vic Mackey's ex-wife, Corrine, a stick of gum with that scary-shy, passive-aggressive grin of his. The way I felt about Black Rain, the new Ozzy Osbourne CD. I don't know if these things are art, and I don't really care. All I know is that they make me want to laugh and dance in the aisle at Best Buy.

And that's enough.

Because, dammit, that's what it's for.

08-08-2007, 04:36 AM
I really look forward to reading these!

That whole Best Buy thing though...that actually happened to me in my local store - a friend and I were a bit drunk and started tap dancing up and down the aisles to the shop musak - the store manager asked us to step into his office and played back the video tape for us laughing his head off :lol:

08-08-2007, 06:38 AM
King's monthly columns make me happy in the same way he describes above. He makes me laugh out love, god love the man.

08-12-2007, 09:17 AM
thanks to sarajean for pointing this out to me.

Harry Potter
J.K. Rowling's Ministry of Magic
Now that the dust has settled on ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,'' Stephen King reflects on why no review did it justice, and whether kids (and their grown-ups) will ever read the same way again

By Stephen King Stephen King
And so now the hurly-burly's done, the battle's lost and won — the Battle of Hogwarts, that is — and all the secrets are out of the Sorting Hat. Those who bet Harry Potter would die lost their money; the boy who lived turned out to be exactly that. And if you think that's a spoiler at this late date, you were never much of a Potter fan to begin with. The outrage over the early reviews (Mary Carole McCauley of The Baltimore Sun, Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times) has faded...although the sour taste lingers for many fans.

It lingers for me, too, although it doesn't have anything to do with the ultimately silly concept of ''spoilers,'' or the ethics of jumping the book's pub date. The prepublication vow of omertΰ was, after all, always a thing concocted by publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic, and not — so far as I know — a part of either the British Magna Carta or the U.S. Constitution. Nor does Jo Rowling's impassioned protest (''I am staggered that some American newspapers have decided to publish...reviews in complete disregard of the wishes of literally millions of readers, particularly children...'') cut much ice with me. These books ceased to be specifically for children halfway through the series; by Goblet of Fire, Rowling was writing for everyone, and knew it.

The clearest sign of how adult the books had become by the conclusion arrives — and splendidly — in Deathly Hallows, when Mrs. Weasley sees the odious Bellatrix Lestrange trying to finish off Ginny with a Killing Curse. ''NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!'' she cries. It's the most shocking bitch in recent fiction; since there's virtually no cursing (of the linguistic kind, anyway) in the Potter books, this one hits home with almost fatal force. It is totally correct in its context — perfect, really — but it is also a quintessentially adult response to a child's peril.

The problem with the advance reviews — and those that followed in the first post-publication days — is one that has dogged Rowling's magnum opus ever since book 4 (Goblet of Fire), after the series had become a worldwide phenomenon. Due to the Kremlin-like secrecy surrounding the books, all reviews since 2000 or so have been strictly shoot-from-the-lip. The reviewers themselves were often great — Ms. Kakutani ain't exactly chopped liver — but the very popularity of the books has often undone even the best intentions of the best critical writers. In their hurry to churn out column inches, and thus remain members of good standing in the Church of What's Happening Now, very few of the Potter reviewers have said anything worth remembering. Most of this microwaved critical mush sees Harry — not to mention his friends and his adventures — in only two ways: sociologically (''Harry Potter: Boon or Childhood Disease?'') or economically (''Harry Potter and the Chamber of Discount Pricing''). They take a perfunctory wave at things like plot and language, but do little more...and really, how can they? When you have only four days to read a 750-page book, then write an 1,100-word review on it, how much time do you have to really enjoy the book? To think about the book? Jo Rowling set out a sumptuous seven-course meal, carefully prepared, beautifully cooked, and lovingly served out. The kids and adults who fell in love with the series (I among them) savored every mouthful, from the appetizer (Sorcerer's Stone) to the dessert (the gorgeous epilogue of Deathly Hallows). Most reviewers, on the other hand, bolted everything down, then obligingly puked it back up half-digested on the book pages of their respective newspapers.

And because of that, very few mainstream writers, from Salon to The New York Times, have really stopped to consider what Ms. Rowling has wrought, where it came from, or what it may mean for the future. The blogs, by and large, haven't been much better. They seem to care about who lives, who dies, and who's tattling. Beyond that, it's all pretty much duh.

So what did happen? Where did this Ministry of Magic come from?

Well, there were straws in the wind. While the academics and bighead education critics were moaning that reading was dead and kids cared about nothing but their Xboxes, iPods, Avril Lavigne, and High School Musical, the kids they were worried about were quietly turning on to the novels of one Robert Lawrence Stine. Known in college as ''Jovial Bob'' Stine, this fellow gained another nickname later in life, as — ahem — ''the Stephen King of children's literature.'' He wrote his first teen horror novel (Blind Date) in 1986, years before the advent of Pottermania...but soon you couldn't glance at a USA Today best-seller list without seeing three or four of his paperbacks bobbing around in the top 50.

These books drew almost no critical attention — to the best of my knowledge, Michiko Kakutani never reviewed Who Killed the Homecoming Queen? — but the kids gave them plenty of attention, and R.L. Stine rode a wave of kid popularity, partly fueled by the fledgling Internet, to become perhaps the best-selling children's author of the 20th century. Like Rowling, he was a Scholastic author, and I have no doubt that Stine's success was one of the reasons Scholastic took a chance on a young and unknown British writer in the first place. He's largely unknown and uncredited...but of course John the Baptist never got the same press as Jesus either.

Rowling has been far more successful, critically as well as financially, because the Potter books grew as they went along. That, I think, is their great secret (and not so secret at that; to understand the point visually, buy a ticket to Order of the Phoenix and check out former cutie Ron Weasley towering over Harry and Hermione). R.L. Stine's kids are kids forever, and the kids who enjoyed their adventures grew out of them, as inevitably as they outgrew their childhood Nikes. Jo Rowling's kids grew up...and the audience grew up with them.

This wouldn't have mattered so much if she'd been a lousy writer, but she wasn't — she was and is an incredibly gifted novelist. While some of the blogs and the mainstream media have mentioned that Rowling's ambition kept pace with the skyrocketing popularity of her books, they have largely overlooked the fact that her talent also grew. Talent is never static, it's always growing or dying, and the short form on Rowling is this: She was far better than R.L. Stine (an adequate but flavorless writer) when she started, but by the time she penned the final line of Deathly Hallows (''All was well.''), she had become one of the finer stylists in her native country — not as good as Ian McEwan or Ruth Rendell (at least not yet), but easily the peer of Beryl Bainbridge or Martin Amis.

And, of course, there was the magic. It's what kids want more than anything; it's what they crave. That goes back to the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and good old Alice, chasing after that wascally wabbit. Kids are always looking for the Ministry of Magic, and they usually find it.

One day in my hometown of Bangor, I was walking up the street and observed a dirty-faced boy of about 3 with scabbed knees and a look of extreme concentration on his face. He was sitting on the dirt strip between the sidewalk and the asphalt. He had a stick in his hand and kept jabbing it into the dirt. ''Get down there!'' he cried. ''Get down there, dammit! You can't come out until I say the Special Word! You can't come out until I say so!''

Several people passed by the kid without paying much attention (if any). I slowed, however, and watched as long as I could — probably because I have spent so much time telling the things inhabiting my own imagination to get back down and not come out until I say so. I was charmed by the kid's effortless make-believe (always assuming it was make-believe, heh-heh-heh). And a couple of things occurred to me. One was that if he had been an adult, the cops would have taken him away either to the drunk tank or to our local Dreamboat Manor for a psychiatric exam. Another was that kids exhibiting paranoid-schizophrenic tendencies are simply accepted in most societies. We all understand that kids are crazy until they hit 8 or so, and we cut their groovy, anything-goes minds some slack.

This happened around 1982, while I was getting ready to write a long story about children and monsters (It), and it influenced my thinking on that novel a great deal. Even now, years later, I think of that kid — a little Minister of Magic using a dead twig for a wand — with affection, and hope he didn't consider himself too old for Harry Potter when those books started appearing. He might have; sad to think so, but one thing J.R.R. Tolkien acknowledges that Rowling doesn't is that sometimes — often, really — the magic goes away.

It was children whom Ms. Rowling — like her Fear Street precursor, but with considerably more skill — captivated first, demonstrating with the irrefutable logic of something like 10 bazillion books sold that kids are still perfectly willing to put aside their iPods and Game Boys and pick up a book...if the magic is there. That reading itself is magical is a thing I never doubted. I'd give a lot to know how many teenagers (and preteens) texted this message in the days following the last book's release: DON'T CALL ME TODAY I'M READING.

The same thing probably happened with R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books, but unlike Stine, Rowling brought adults into the reading circle, making it much larger. This is hardly a unique phenomenon, although it seems to be one associated mainly with British authors (there was Huckleberry Finn, of course, a sequel to its YA little brother Tom Sawyer). Alice in Wonderland began as a story told to 10-year-old Alice Liddell by Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll); it is now taught in college lit courses. And Watership Down, Richard Adams' version of The Odyssey (featuring rabbits instead of humans), began as a story told to amuse the author's preteen daughters, Juliet and Rosamond, on a long car drive. As a book, though, it was marketed as an ''adult fantasy'' and became an international best-seller.

Maybe it's the British prose. It's hard to resist the hypnotism of those calm and sensible voices, especially when they turn to make-believe. Rowling was always part of that straightforward storytelling tradition (Peter Pan, originally a play by the Scot J.M. Barrie, is another case in point). She never loses sight of her main theme — the power of love to turn bewildered, often frightened, children into decent and responsible adults — but her writing is all about story. She's lucid rather than luminous, but that's okay; when she does express strong feelings, she remains their mistress without denying their truth or power. The sweetest example in Deathly Hallows comes early, with Harry remembering his childhood years in the Dursley house. ''It gave him an odd, empty feeling to remember those times,'' Rowling writes. ''[I]t was like remembering a younger brother whom he had lost.'' Honest; nostalgic; not sloppy. It's a small example of the style that enabled Jo Rowling to bridge the generation gap without breaking a sweat or losing the cheerful dignity that is one of the series' great charms.

Her characters are lively and well-drawn, her pace is impeccable, and although there are occasional continuity drops, the story as a whole hangs together almost perfectly over its 4,000-plus page length.

And she's in full possession of that famously dry British wit, as when Ron, trying to tune in an outlaw news broadcast on his wizard radio, catches a snatch of a pop song called ''A Cauldron Full of Hot Strong Love.'' Must have been some witchy version of Donna Summer doing that one. There's also her wry send-up of the British tabloids — about which I'm sure she knows plenty — in the person of Rita Skeeter, perhaps the best name to be hung on a fictional character since those of Jonathan Swift. When Elphias Doge, the perfect magical English gentleman, calls Rita ''an interfering trout,'' I felt like standing up and giving a cheer. Take that, Page Six! There's a lot of meat on the bones of these books — good writing, honest feeling, a sweet but uncompromising view of human nature...and hard reality: NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH! The fact that Harry attracted adults as well as children has never surprised me.

08-12-2007, 10:32 PM
I liked the homage each author paid to the other in their final books :)

09-16-2007, 08:22 AM
Apparently King's been in Zone's part of the world!


09-17-2007, 03:39 PM
Yeah, he was in perth (where I am, on the west coast) only a few weeks ago .. i think it must have been just a holiday though as there was no ads for book signings or anything. A workmate of mine almost collided trollies with him @ LAX and then they were on the same shuttle bus. She didnt say anything to him though but recognised him ;)

09-17-2007, 06:07 PM
You lucky bugger

09-17-2007, 06:55 PM
Ya know, there are very few celebs that I would say anything to if I ever saw them...meaning, I'd just smile at them and wouldn't bother them. But if SK was ever to like be within touching distance, I'd have to say hello or something. Surely I wouldn't ramble on, but I'd have to say something completely stupid. LOL

**Although, I will say I wouldn't ask him for anything, just say hi.

09-17-2007, 08:44 PM
Apparently King's been in Zone's part of the world!


Yeah, our state is massive (quadruple the size of Texas), and largely uninhabited. The southwest corner of the state is what you'd call normal cities and towns etc and where 95% of the 2 million inhabitants live, and the rest of it would be exactly as he's described, except for the string of sea towns that follow the coast up and around the top end.

There are towns in the outback and desert areas but the climate can be very unforgiving and water is not in plentiful supply so these towns are mostly based around mining operations etc. There is little or no technology or comforts out there, as spending hundreds of millions on an infrastructure for maybe 30,000 people spread over such a huge area is a waste. Its funny, we (aussies) are pretty familiar with what the country looks like and most have seen some element of it or another on a holiday but not many would opt to spend weeks out in some backwater town - its expensive to get to aswell, most would rather spend the cash and go somewhere we consider exotic. The bush can be fucking boring :)

But the stars do look amazing though. You've never seen so many in your life - imagine what the sky would look like with no artificial light sources for hundreds of kilometers in any direction.

09-18-2007, 06:14 AM
I bet its amazing


The only reason I would like it is the sheer solitude of the thing.

(with Dora of course)

Randall Flagg
10-09-2007, 06:36 AM
Entertainment Weekly A History of Violence (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20150871,00.html)

10-09-2007, 06:57 AM
That was a good one - food for thought from Uncle Stevie!

12-22-2007, 08:13 AM
The Pop of King
Stephen King's Top Tunes of 2007
See which albums and songs the EW pop-culture columnist named as his favorites from the past 12 months

AVRIL LAVIGNE ''Girlfriend'' got more plays in Stephen King's house than Springsteen's ''Radio Nowhere,'' less than Wilco's ''Either Way''
Mark Liddell

By Stephen King Stephen King
The advice from my mother that I think of most often: ''If you can't say something nice, just shut up and smile.'' You might think of those words of wisdom, should you look for certain highly touted 2007 CDs below and not find them. In truth, your Uncle Stevie was disappointed with this year's new music, very disappointed indeed, and his year-end list reflects that. I could only find seven albums I wanted to mention, but there is a bright side: I've added my favorite songs of the year. Download 'em and burn your own CD, how about that? And if you think my list sucks, you can drop me a line on the message board. Or just shut up and smile. The latter option would probably be less trouble for both of us. Might I add, while I'm at it, that I'm haunted — as with the lists of movies and books that will follow in good time — by all the good stuff I may have missed? There's just too much out there, and life is too short. But now, with no further ado...

7. Countrypolitan Favorites, Southern Culture on the Skids
Are you mourning Porter Wagoner? Still bumming over Buck (Owens, that is)? Here's the perfect cheer-up medicine: 15 old-timey country faves, dressed up in rockin' clothes courtesy of Rick Miller's surf guitar. Best cut is probably ''Engine Engine #9,'' with Rick Miller sounding eerily like the late great Roger Miller, but Mary Huff's upbeat take on ''Rose Garden'' (Lynn Anderson did the original) is also a marvel.

6. Revival, John Fogerty
A little uneven, and probably not his absolute best work, but still impossible not to turn up and dance to; this is straight-ahead old-school rock. Fogerty has stayed true to the swampy stuff he does the best, and on songs like ''Don't You Wish It Was True'' and ''Somebody Help Me,'' he hits that ole Creedence groove dead-on (and Fogerty always was Creedence).

5. Black Rain, Ozzy Osbourne
It's amazing that Ozzy can do this sort of thing at all anymore, let alone so well. Finest heavy metal record of the year; a true speaker-buster. Best track is the amazing ''I Don't Wanna Stop.'' Slipknot, eat your filthy little heart out.

4. It's Not Big It's Large, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
This is a terrific Texas swing album, but of course not everybody likes Texas swing (or even knows what it is). What makes it special is Lovett's vermouth-dry vocals and his equally dry wit. In the dry-wit department, check out ''All Downhill.''

3. Life in Cartoon Motion, MIKA
An incredibly accomplished debut, and a voice that bears an eerie resemblance to Freddie Mercury's. This one lived all summer on my car's CD player, especially ''Lollipop.''

2. Sky Blue Sky, Wilco
No audio tricks and/or experimentation this time, only a set of gorgeously simple tunes and class-A writing. Jeff Tweedy has never been sweeter, more controlled, or in better voice. Not a bad cut on the album. Even the cover art's beautiful.

1. Washington Square Serenade, Steve Earle
This is the prolific Earle's best album since he got out of jail (a statement that only seems perfectly rational when discussing rock & roll). It's what we called ''folk rock'' back in the day, but it's more than that; songs like ''City of Immigrants'' and ''Down Here Below'' (which concerns Manhattan's flying urban legend Pale Male) are paragraphs in Earle's love note to New York. On ''Tennessee Blues'' he bids a sad, not-so-fond farewell to the Guitar Town. (''Bound for New York City, and I won't be back no more.'') Of all the albums I heard this year, it's the only one that fulfilled my expectations on every level.

I don't think you need many explanations about this mix; the songs either explain themselves, or they don't. All I need tell you is that yes, they're all downloadable; yes, I heard them all for the first time in 2007, and most, but not all, are from this year; and yes, every one of them blissed me out. I played them over and over until my wife threatened to divorce me...or just stab me repeatedly with the kitchen scissors (and no jury in America would have convicted her). They are listed from the least played (about 12 times in the case of ''Radio Nowhere'') to the most played (which would be about 50, putting me squarely in stabbed-in-the-kitchen territory).

I know I'll get hazed about some selections (James Blunt?? Brad Paisley???), but my dear old mother also used to tell me that honesty's the best policy. This is as honest as I can be. So there. And let's hope next year is a little bit better.

18. ''Radio Nowhere''
Bruce Springsteen

17. ''1973''
James Blunt

16. ''Nothing Changes Around Here''
The Thrills

15. ''Girlfriend''
Avril Lavigne

14. ''Homo Erectus''
Ray Benson and Reckless Kelly

13. ''Bring It on Home to Me''
Tab Benoit

12. ''I'm Shipping Up to Boston''
Dropkick Murphys

11. ''Radar Gun''
The Bottle Rockets

10. ''Online''
Brad Paisley

9. ''Same Mistake''
James Blunt

8. ''Up in Indiana''
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band

7. ''Right Moves''
Josh Ritter

6. ''Wait for Love''
Josh Ritter

5. ''Crazy Ex-Girlfriend''
Miranda Lambert

4. ''Jericho Road''
Steve Earle

3. ''Get Your Biscuits in the Oven (and Your Buns in Bed)''
Kevin Fowler

2. ''Down the Road Tonight''
Hayes Carll

1. ''Either Way''

12-22-2007, 08:21 AM
Stephen King's Best of '07: Movies and TV


Most of 2007's political movies failed because they were too angry to be anything but propaganda. This one, about a heartbroken father trying to discover the truth about his son, was tight, involving, and controlled. One of two great Tommy Lee Jones performances this year.

Scary as hell, one of the two or three best zombie movies ever (we'll see how I Am Legend stacks up). These folks may be brain-dead, but they're fast, and the movie-opening chase sequence is a tour de force.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines as the ex-big-deal hockey player trying to remember how to open cans of soup after a catastrophic car accident (for which he was responsible). When he gets caught up in a robbery, this class-A thriller becomes a tightly wound crime classic.

7. 3:10 TO YUMA
The best non-humorous Elmore Leonard adaptation since Mr. Majestyk. You expect Russell Crowe to be great — he's always good when he's bad — but the big surprise is Christian Bale (pictured). He doesn't outdo Gary Cooper for simple decency, but comes close. And you get to watch Russell Crowe wear that amazingly cool hat.

Todd Field's poison bonbon about bored young marrieds in the suburbs is as funny as it is sad. Kate Winslet is great — you'd expect that — and so is Gregg Edelman as her porn-addled husband. The unexpected treat is Jackie Earle Haley (pictured, with Phyllis Somerville) and his turn as the bewildered ''sex criminal'' who becomes the subject of neighborhood hysteria.

Like 28 Weeks Later, this is a near future you wouldn't want to inhabit, but you can't look away. And as the Ordinary Guy In Over His Head — in this case spiriting what may be the last pregnant woman on earth to safety — Clive Owen (pictured) makes a terrific old-school hero. This movie also contains the year's best line, delivered by Michael Caine just before he's shot: ''Pull my finger.''

Tight, taut, perfectly paced. You expect Chris Cooper (pictured, right) to be great as the super-religious (but deeply amoral) FBI agent selling secrets to the Soviets; the pleasure comes when you realize Ryan Phillippe (left) is just as good as the agent assigned to bring him down. Their final locked stare was one of the year's classic moments.

It's about eavesdropping, but for once not about the people who are being listened to. This one is about the listener: party hack Gerd Wiesler, brilliantly played by Ulrich Mόhe (pictured in background), who died much too soon. ''Peek not at a knothole, lest ye be vexed,'' my mother used to tell my brother and me; the moral of this story is ''Listen not at one, lest ye be changed.''

The second great film to come from a Dennis Lehane novel. What makes this special isn't so much the terrific performances by Casey Affleck (pictured, left), Michelle Monaghan (right), and Ed Harris (center), or the tight script; it's Ben Affleck's smart, heartfelt direction. He puts lower-middle-class Boston on the screen as it really is, and tells a story that could happen in any American city. You call that universality, folks, and it's rare. Particularly in Hollywood.

The Coen brothers have lately fallen on hard times, critically and commercially. This restores them to their proper place as great American filmmakers. No Country is the best modern-day Western since The Getaway, and one of the best adaptations of a major novel ever. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Javier Bardem doesn't steal the movie as psychopath Anton Chigurh. Tommy Lee Jones (pictured) doesn't quite let him, and his stalwart sheriff gives Christian Bale (3:10 to Yuma) something to shoot for when he grows up.


Didn't want to like it. Kept telling myself, ''This is soap opera, pure and simple.'' In the end, couldn't quite believe it. But those kids are way too purty.

The morals may be twisted, but the first season was much more fun than The Sopranos.

It sagged in the middle, but picked up at the end. The best of Battlestar are the tough-as-nails women. Call them Space Grrrls.

A Devil Wears Prada knockoff that turned into a great thriller. Glenn Close has replaced James Gandolfini atop my TV Bad Guys list, and Ted Danson made a terrific corporate sleaze.

Still the best. I rewatched the entire third season to make sure, and — yes — still the best. Heroes just doesn't have its mythic grandeur. People are reaching for the stars here. And maybe beyond. Really, there's never been anything like it.

12-22-2007, 09:03 AM

12-28-2007, 01:47 PM
I am not a fan of year-end "best of" lists, except when it comes to Stephen King. I always enjoy hearing what he has to say. :dance:

Thanks for posting these, Sarah. I appreciate being able to reference them again since I mailed all my originals to Ari in Argentina last week. :)

02-24-2008, 01:40 PM
The Pop of King
Stephen King: Your Movie and Concert Hall Hell

EW's pop-culture columnist asked you to tell him about your worst experiences at a cineplex or music venue -- and you had lots to share!


PSYCHO Stephen King remembers watching Janet Leigh in the Alfred Hitchcock classic in a '60s haze and becoming convinced ''Norman Bates' mother was sitting behind me''
Everett Collection

By Stephen King (http://search.ew.com/EWSearch/ew/search/search.html?type=ew:Stephen+King;) http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/dynamic/imgs/030731/175040__king_l.jpg
Stephen King

One night during my junior year at college, while high on considerably more than life (it was the '60s, so sue me), I took it into my head to go — by myself — to an Alfred Hitchcock retrospective playing in the Memorial Union. The film that night was Psycho, which I had seen before...but never with the entire world seeming to melt at the edges and change colors in the middle. Yet things were going along pretty well until the last 20 minutes, when I became convinced that Norman Bates' mother — in all her shriveled, eyeless glory — was sitting directly behind me and would soon reach out to stroke the back of my neck.
I remembered this a couple of weeks ago, when I happened upon Psycho playing on cable. Talk about flashbacks! It made me wonder how many others had had bad entertainment experiences — I mean really bad, the absolute pits — and so I put out a query on my website (http://www.stephenking.com/). I was deluged with replies. People have suffered all sorts of entertainment traumas. Many, as you would guess, have to do with that ever-popular combination of alcohol and rock & roll. Several end with forcible ejections from the human body, occasionally on some other concertgoer's head.
Teresa wrote about going to see Queen in 1978 (''Freddie Mercury was still alive then'') in a pair of satin pants that were all the rage. A drunk threw an empty bottle, bonk!, on poor Teresa's head while she was trying to work her way down to the front so Freddie could admire her groovy threads. She regrets the stitches, mourns the pants. Her sad conclusion: Blood doesn't wash out of satin.
Sometimes it's the talent who's out of control. Ayla wrote about going to see Hole in Adelaide, Australia. ''Courtney Love staggered on stage, played a few songs, then started ranting about being stung by a huge Australian bug. [She] stormed off stage screaming she was going to die.... Not cool.'' And Susan recalls a show where the always-inspired Billy Idol grabbed the drummer's sticks and began playing his own leather-clad crotch. Tasteful!
Bev writes about the night that Rice Stadium in Houston flooded while Pink Floyd was playing. The Floyd struggled on valiantly for an hour as various pieces of equipment shorted out, then David Gilmour announced to the crowd: ''We've run out of instruments that still work. Good night.''
And when Ariel went to see the punk band Die Toten Hosen (the literal translation, rather funny in itself: The Dead Pants), it turned out to be possibly the shortest concert in history. The drummer managed one riff before the stage collapsed and the entire band went down, clutching their instruments.
Many people seeking amusement have been traumatized at the movies. Brian writes about settling in to watch Deep Impact when a fellow fresh off the Appalachian Trail settled in right beside him. ''Every time he shifted his weight,'' Brian says, ''a cloud of death would puff from his Umbros .''
David recalls going to see [I]Shrek and winding up near a woman who had smuggled her Chihuahua in. ''I was ready to tell her to shut him up if he started to bark. He never barked. Instead he crapped like there was no tomorrow.'' All this and popcorn, too!
James waited in line three days for the first showing of The Phantom Menace. The good news: He got on TV, and local restaurants brought him food. The bad news: Twenty minutes into the showing, the projector broke down. ''Bummer!'' James writes. (But probably not as bad as actually seeing the whole movie.)
One memoirist remembers going to Love Story with her husband and feeling a weight settle on her shoulder halfway through the film. It was another man's head. She thought he had gone to sleep until the ''sleeper's'' wife gently moved him upright and the guy snapped awake. He'd been having a mild epileptic seizure.
Mary was taken to The Godfather at the age of 13. Her parents rarely went to films, but they'd heard there were ''some great Italian wedding scenes'' in The Godfather. There are, of course, but the one Mary remembers most vividly is ''Sonny banging the bridesmaid against the wall.''
My favorite movie story came from Kelly. She remembers the night when her grandpa Henry took her to see Alive. She was 12 at the time. This is the film about the rugby players who resort to cannibalism in order to stay alive after their plane crashes. ''This guy takes a knife (or whatever he had) and sliced a piece off a woman's rear end and eats it. My grandpa said (loud enough for the whole theater to hear): 'Damn! Wouldn't mind a piece o' ass myself!' I just about died of humiliation.''
I got hundreds more, and some stories are truly awful. Like Chad's. He writes, ''Last Tuesday I sat through an entire episode of According to Jim. Yes, I know...excruciating.''
Got stories of your own? Post them on the message board below, but keep them under 100 words. I can only stand so much horror.

Bev Vincent
02-24-2008, 03:42 PM
Bev writes

That's me!

02-24-2008, 04:49 PM
(reads over it twice)

So it is!!!

02-24-2008, 06:32 PM
It's good to see a few familiar names in SK's article. :dance:

03-15-2008, 09:38 AM
"Don't be a sillykins"

i lol'd so hard.

Bev Vincent
05-27-2011, 10:22 AM
Not exactly a Pop of King, but Steve has his summer reading list in the new issue (June 3, 2011)

Bev Vincent
06-29-2011, 07:40 AM
Now online: My Summer Reading List (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20503726,00.html)