Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Owe Stephen King An Apology

Stephen King On Writing is one of my favorite books, and I read it every couple of years. Half memoir, half writing “how to,” it is absorbing and delightful. I recommend it to my students and suggest that they read it every year. If you haven't, you should read it, too.

However, that is the only one of King’s many books that I’ve been able to read. I’ve tried many times to read various books by Mr. King, but kept getting bogged down after 30 or 40 pages. The stories were okay, but couldn’t hold my interest because the writing seemed too heavy handed, too brutish, like he was typing with his fists.

So, after days of consideration, it was with great reluctance that I downloaded 11/22/63: A Novel on The reviews were good, glowing, in fact, and I’ve learned to trust the opinions of Audible listeners. Plus, the book is more than 30 hours long, which the bargain hunter in me always finds attractive.

I’m only 15 hours into it, but it is a wonderful and fascinating story, based loosely – so far – on an English teacher’s obsession with Lee Harvey Oswald and the possibility of going back in time to prevent the Kennedy killing.

The writing is wonderful, masterful, vivid, compelling. The characters are rich and deep, genuine, involved, and I find myself thinking about them and their lives often throughout the day. Life in small-town and big-town 1958 up to 1962 – so far – is mesmerizing, with the constant but subtle hint of mysterious dangers to come, and the mighty reluctance of the past to be changed. I believe obdurate is the word used.
You’ll get no more details from me, only a hearty endorsement. If you have a library card, use it. If you have access to a book store, buy it. It probably has been in print long enough that it is available in used book stores. Of course, it’s available on Amazon, and on Audible. In fact, you can download it for free by clicking the link in the right column above.
If you are already a Stephen King fan, perhaps you can recommend a title I should read? Thanks.


  1. Not King, but I just finished a fun read, 'Nation' by Terry Pratchett. Funny AND profound. I am always thrilled to find a new writer that I really enjoy, and he has dozens for me to discover. Yay!

  2. Which, I'm happy to see, is available on I will listen to the sample chapter, and if it turns out to be as good as you say - and why would it not? - I will give it a try, and let you know what I think. It is always good to find new authors. Thanks for the tip.

    1. If the sample chapter is the first chapter, don't go by that. It was a little slow, and odd, so don't give up.

  3. So, it's either "Nation" or "Einstein: His Life And Universe." What to do, what to do....

    One is recommended by a loyal reader and gets good reviews. The other gets good reviews and is more than twice as long.


    1. As you can see from my current Now On Audible, I went with the Einstein book. Five hours into it, it is fascinating, although I hope I eventually get over the disappointment at the way he treated his daughter.

    2. I finished the Einstein biography, and it was very good. I must warn you, though, you'll come away from it with an overall impression that he was not a nice person to people close to him.

      I also listened to the Prachett book, "Nation." It was a good read, too, but something was missing. The story was good enough, and the writing was good, but something just didn't ring true. Someone described the book as "Life of Pi" meets Monty Python, and perhaps it just didn't live up to that billing. Monty Python has pretty big shoes to fill. I will listen to it again in a few months, and I'm sure it will be better then.


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