Yesterday I added the “Best American Short Stories 2007″ (edited by Stephen King) to my stack of books. I enjoyed the introduction he wrote and the forward penned by the new series editor. I wasn’t enthralled with the first short story I read, but I will have to say the story did have a great voice. I just wasn’t sure about the ending. It seemed—-trite?
So why is Stephen King haunting me? Well besides the BASS-07 collection, I also finished his memoir “On Writing” earlier in the month. “On Writing” is one of the best writer’s memoris I have read. But it had one bad side effect. Everytime I want to use an adverb I find myself struggling to avoid them! See, I did pain attention Mr. King. (I have already wanted to use recently twice, thoroughly at least once). After finishing the memoir, I came across several videos of Mr. King online reading and/or discussing “Lisey’s Story.”
Why, then, is Stephen King stalking me? Maybe I’m just noticing him more. Like when you never noticed that there are a lot of Yellow VW bugs until someone says, “Hey did you ever notice how many VW bugs there are?” Well, Mr. King, you seem to be back in my life (I had forsaken you a bit after “The Cell” but I’m looking forward to the next book).
I had a bit of an interest in “scary” movies when I was a girl. They were fun to sneak a peek at when I was young (“Poltergeist” and “Something Evil” really messed up my sleep!) and then as a pre-teen and early teen they were common fodder for sleepovers (“Psycho” and “The Lady in White” in particular). I, being a voracious reader, made the jump from watching horror to reading horror it. I don’t recall who I started reading first but Stephen King quickly (ha–had to let one adverb sneak in!) became my favorite.
My mom, once in a while, would take us to the used bookstore in the town where I would get as many books as I could with my pocket change. I didn’t get to keep a lot of them because I needed to trade them back in for something new to read. I loved “Pet Semetary”, “It”, and “The Talisman” (with Peter Straub) in particular.
My love for “pulp literature” was squelched for a while during high school because I needed to catch up on the classics. It wasn’t until college that I had a chance, during the summers, to indulge in my old passion for good storytelling. I found “The Dark Tower” series and my favorite short story of all time–”Salem’s Lot.” If you can find a short story scarier–I’ll try to read it!
So what is my point? I feel like I have to defend myself in a way for what I choose to read and it reflects back, at times, on what I myself choose to write. I guess with my January MFA residency approaching I am a bit apprehensive about the poems I am editting now. When I get critiqued will I be told I am too simplistic? Will I again be judged as some typical country bumpkin, narrative, house-wife like pocket poet without any real acadmeic talent? I think, sometimes, other writers forget that you don’t always choose what you write. Sometimes if just chooses you.
Perhaps that is my point. Or maybe I just wanted to thank Stephen King for being a part of my reading, and now writing, life for the last 20 or so years. Hats off to you Mr. King–I can’t wait for the new book! (and I’d love someone to go back and make “Hearts in Atlantis” with the actual supernatural being more evident, cause that is a KEWL book