Friday, July 6, 2012

A King has his reign..

Dwight Allen may be aiming to be the Jaimie Lannister of Salon magazine with his recent admission that he just doesn't "Get" why Stephen King is so gosh darn popular (READ WHAT I LIKE, DAMMIT!). This rambling essay, mainly feeling like something you'd get out of a highschool kid who really really wanted to make sure you knew how smart he was, doesn't do anything for the author to prove his point, except illustrate he went into reading King already knowing he wasn't going to like him. Fair enough. King isn't for everyone, but he is for most people, a producer of great reads. After about a thousand words of self aggrandizing, name dropping, and constantly reffering to just how high brow and litterary his tastes are.. Allen does eventually get to the point where he feels he can quit writing about just how much more intelligent his tastes in books makes him feel.

I like to think that maybe, he was doing it to be ironic, since he just accused King of writing bloated and meandering works.. that he chose consciously to do the same with his little story.. still more kind to King than Harold Bloom has ever been.

The bit that really got me though, was this line at the end,

"After you’ve read Roberto Bolaño and Denis Johnson and David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon, [...] why would you return to Stephen King? " 

Well, gee whiz Dwight, I have no idea. Oh, here's one, just to try on for size.. maybe it's because, unlike Wallace (Seriously, read this dudes Syllabus for his students.. talk about pedantry) and Johnson and Pynchon (All writers I've read, some of which I even enjoyed, I'm not going to talk about Bolano as I've not read him) aren't really all that much fun. Reading Johnson, Pynchon, or Wallace is to much like work, and unlike Dwight, I don't get paid for reading and writing.  Johnson, to his credit, does write some entertaining stuff, but Wallace and Pynchon are mostly incoherent and are seemingly more obsessed with stringing together obtuse, but technically correct sentences than they are about telling a story. For me, Books are an alternative form of entertainment, and King is entertaining. 

But, really, none of this is surprising, a litterari snubs a popular author, the world turns, stars go nova, and the Higgs-Boson gives them all mass. 

1 comment:

Brian Murphy said...

I think you hit on it right here:

King isn't for everyone, but he is for most people, a producer of great reads.

I've seldom found writers who tell consistently entertaining stories with effortless prose that carries you right along to the end. It's the result of talent and finely honed writing skill. Guys like Joe Lansdale, REH, and Bernard Cornwell have it, and King definitely has it. It's a quality of good/great writing, different but no less important than "literary merit," even though Allen might not recognize it as such.

That said, I think King was great from Carrie up through Misery; after that his stuff is very hit and miss with a lot of bloat (in my opinion anyway). But stories like The Shining, The Stand, 'Salem's Lot, The Eyes of the Dragon, and pretty much all of his stort stories and novelettes (in particular Different Seasons) are pretty amazing.