The fact that I enjoy reading Stephen King is not something that I haven’t expressed publicly many times before. I have pretty much read everything the man has written (except his two new novels) and have for the most part been able to successfully navigate through his (occasionally) meandering works. Of late though, I have become sporadic as far as my reading is concerned and I blame Netflix and this damn machine for that. However, sometime ago I made a vow to myself that I shall start to read more. The days when I curled up to sleep with a novel by my side are long gone, and probably will not come back for some time, but I did make a solemn attempt to devour as many novels as I could. In order to establish my grand return to voracious reading, I decided to pick up a challenge – even for me!
My recent lethargy with respect to reading had left me a shell of what I was – my appetite for words had reduced and I knew that anything large would indeed be challenging. In my foolish optimism I picked up the only novel of King that I hadn’t read – The Stand. Now, for the uninitiated, the Stand happens to be one of King’s earliest works and supposedly one of his most widely read and admired ones (though I have different opinions). Thus, when I picked this book up from the library, there were two options – either choose the original 800-page version, or choose the un-cut, un-edited, re-released version which was released many years later in order to commemorate the grand success of the original. Oh, did I mention that the uncut version stood at a massive 1150 pages?
To cut a long tale short, I did manage to finish the novel and was terribly proud of myself. I sat through the last 300 pages in essentially one stretch! However, I realized many things when I read King after some time. King definitely needs an editor. ALL of this novels could easily be trimmed for he has a very bad tendency to wander off, before coming back. This is especially true in case of his larger novels. There were some sections in the uncut version where the novel headed nowhere and I had to literally force myself to read. The pacing was terribly uneven and at times the point of the story was totally forgotten as King meandered and sauntered away as if he were spitting out random words. I have finally realized the true worth of an editor; though if I were one I would have shortened this manuscript to a 500-600 page novel instead of the 800-page one – many perks of having the name King possibly?
I also realized that as much as I used to admire King, over time I do not admire him as much. I still think the Green Mile and his novella collection – Different Seasons as well as Gerald’s Game and Misery were some of the best novels that I have read, but King in general is not as great as I thought him to be. In the pop-fiction culture I now seemingly hold Archer in higher regard – all of his novels, including recent ones, seem to fly cover to cover. I do not have to make any effort to read, I am some how compelled to! That was how King was in certain novels (eg. Insomnia), but in some others he totally looses it (eg. The Stand!). So, am I done with King? Absolutely not!
I take the opportunity to chronicle the novels from King that I have left (I have read all his novellas, short stories and works under Richard Bachman – these were awesome IMHO):
I read that Under the Dome stands at a massive 1088 pages, while Duma Key is a modest 800. Hmm…maybe the Tommyknockers then?
King – I will read all of you before I die!
ps. I know that this post did not make any sense. I put this here just to chronicle my completion of The Stand! Now onto Wodehouse and Jeeves!