Stephen King: A Complete Exploration of His Work, Life, and Influences (B&N)

“Some people believe it is possible to learn about a writer through a careful reading of his or her work. Others think a writer’s work is best understood by knowing the details and circumstances of that person’s life. Which way does the mirror point — or doesn’t it work in both directions?

The events described in this book can be seen as the bricks that make up the wall that roots his fiction in reality.”

Bev Vincent

I have an interesting relationship with King’s work. I can’t speak on his writing as a superfan of any kind. In fact, as of writing this, I’ve only read three of King’s books: On Writing, Apt Pupil, and IT.

What interests me more about King is the man, moreso than his work. How can he not? Growing up there was a sense of dread surrounding his name. “This is the guy who writes the most terrifying books for grown-ups! We’re all just reading Goosebumps but this guy is writing Goosebumps but for big people!”

This book walks a fun line between being a straight-up biography and a trivia coffee table book. It’s an engaging read, and Vincent does a great job balancing quotes with their own research with factual statements with their own opinions. Each page is beautifully highlighted with limited edition book covers, first editions, personal photos from the King archives, and officially published art.

But no where does it lose the focus on King and what drove each of his works. Sometimes a short story collection gets half a page and sometimes The Stand gets 6 pages to discuss what drove the creation of the Bible-length tome. It’s an epic tale of good vs. evil, after all.

The bits I liked the most were the Interludes, where Vincent speaks about Derry, Maine or Castle Rock as if they were real places, listing the works they appear in, or the Interlude about the King Connected Universe, where characters cross over or are mentioned in other works. It gives you that moment of pause, where you can reflect on how much work King has done and the spread his influence had on the greater world.

Thanks for reading,

Follow me:

Twitter: @robacosta

Instagram: @robacosta