Today I am off work ill. This blog post will be the only output of my day.
Unfortunately lack of output has been common recently for me. Due to an INSANE time at work the last couple of weeks with training and system upgrades (and a 24-hour straight shift!), all the while accompanied by some sleepless nights, writing has been low down on my agenda. Which annoys me.
Yet I’ve still found time to read.
This morning I finished my latest; Stephen King’s From A Buick 8.
It’s an interesting story, one that has effortlessly earned its place in my all-time favourite King novels. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is about it that I like, but I didn’t hesitate with the five stars on Goodreads. When I looked online, however, I found a lot of reviews that online came in from the extreme angles; people either really liked it, or really, really hated it.
The main issue the 1 stars have with it is the lack of explanation, of resolution. This is ironic, because that’s what the whole book is really about. From A Buick 8 is a tales made up of tales all leading to the point that life doesn’t always work out like the stories we enjoy reading so much. Life doesn’t always end well, it doesn’t give all the answers, and it doesn’t all have meaning.
I liked it, though. But then, I’ve read enough King to enjoy something a little different. I like how he writes his characters (all of them, not just the main ones). I could read about a character’s day, where nothing really happens, if it was written by Mr King. He writes so much detail into his worlds; some of it obvious, some of it subtle. He writes characters as if they’re real people.
Of course, while I’d recommend it in a heartbeat to any King fan who hadn’t gotten around to it yet, it isn’t (in my opinion) a good place for someone new to Mr King’s work.
Which brings me to . . .
WHERE TO START
While my toast was cooking on another lunchbreak earlier this week, a work colleague noticed the book on my table. She asked if I liked Stephen King (absolutely) and then told me she was planning on reading It soon. I mentioned that I hadn’t gotten around to that one yet but was looking forward to it.
Then I asked her what other King books she’d read to which she replied, “None”.
My immediate reaction was that she was crazy to start with one of King’s biggest works. If it went wrong, it could put her off the master writer for life. That first King read is important; it’s the one you’ll always remember (like that first love, remember him/her?), it’s what you’ll judge all the rest by, and it will hopefully open you up to all the things that make King such a mighty author.
So, what did I tell her? Well, with the help of a fellow King fan (hello Steve), we compiled a list of where we thought she would be better of starting.
I started with The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, an odd one, I know. You see back then (around 2005) I was adamant that I would avoid mainstream authors. And you don’t get much more mainstream than Stephen King. But one day, while the future Mrs Creek was busy perusing in our local TESCO, I spotted a King book I’d never heard of before, or expected to be something he would write. It was part western and part fantasy. I was very, very interested. Yet there was that name on the cover, a name I’d stubbornly sworn not to read. And the price, that was . . . cheap actually. On sale for £1.99.
Of course I later found out that it was more than one book, and despite the Dark Tower series being my favourite story of all time, there were many reasons why that shouldn’t be my colleagues first King read. And after the Gunslinger
Next up was Cell. This was a simpler book in King terms, an interesting premise with a zombie story turned on its head. Excluding the Dark Tower, this was my first proper Stephen King novel, and when I finished it I felt guilty for that earlier stubbornness. I immediately found his writing interesting and smart, and knew then and there that I would be reading many more of his (to date, I’m not even halfway, but I’m enjoying taking my time with them).
After that I went with his first, Carrie. I thought that, for my colleague, this would be a good start due to its size and simplicity. Steve also suggested ‘Salem’s Lot and The Shinning (we both agreed she should skip around for The Stand for now), but our worry became that these was all his old (oldest) stuff, and some people can be put off of period stuff. It’s like movies; I know some people that avoid films made before they were born like the plague.
So Steve and I started thinking about more recent works (all while my colleague eyes started to glaze over as she began to regret the question she’d asked me). I mentioned Cell, but tought things like Lisey’s Story and Duma Key were a little too involved for a first time.
Of course there was Blaze, the Bachman book released not long after Cell. This was another easy read (and another of my favourites).
But as I mentioned, my colleague started to feel comatose, and the conversation ended there. I don’t know if she started It, or if she picked another (or if we scared her off of Stephen King altogether).
I know a couple of people who read this blog are King fans. What would you guys have suggested? Do you agree that I should have diverted her away from some of the heavier stuff for her first time, or should she just have dived straight in to a doorstop? And what was your first King novel?
Apologies for the short and random nature of the post today. As I said at the beginning, illness is hugging me. Hopefully it will go away quickly, work can get better, and writing can rear its beautiful head once more.