Friday, November 13, 2009

Gratitude post #6: The Old Master

Today I am grateful for Stephen King. I don't write horror, but man oh man, he's the master of characters, and I want to be like him when I grow up. You'd know if a Stephen King character came and knocked on your door. Name any of the biggies--Jack Torrance, Annie Wilkes, Randall Flagg (a personal fave), and I'm NOT talking about their movie counterparts, I'm talking about their purest book forms--and you'd know who it was as soon as you answered the door.

I started reading Steve King (as he calls himself) when I was WAAAAY too young to be reading it. Like under 10. So I grasped nothing but the basic storylines: lots of blood, lots of bad things. But WOW, did I absorb things I had no idea I absorbed, stuff about love and sex and death and human interaction. I'm finding that out now, as I revisit his early stuff. These days I'm absorbing King in audiobook form, and it's teaching me something about how he shapes books, characters, and story structure. I also love King's casual, irreverent voice and tone. He's my kind of guy, and that was something I knew when I was 10--I knew I could talk with him, and he'd tell me what I needed to know. He could be why my own books are slightly (!) irreverent and casual. Plus, Steve King has written good stuff, and he's written shit, and he admits to both. I like that in a writer. I'm partial to his early works, but there are good ones later on, too.

As I listen to him, I'm also thinking a lot about Flux's statement that "young adult is a point of view, not a reading level" (a brilliant statement if there ever was one). Case in point: Carrie. Almost all the protagonists/antagonists are high school students, but are they thinking in high school ways? No. They're making very adult decisions and having adult thoughts, because they're being "watched" by an adult narrator (it's 3rd person). Even though it's YA characters, it's not a YA point of view. Interesting stuff.

Hail Mary, full of grace, let me win this stock car race. Thank you, Steve King, for your words and your voice. Sometimes I can't read you, because the gore or the plague or the sadness is too real, now that I'm a grown-up and I understand you, but I still love you.

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