KINGDOM OF FEAR: The World of Stephen King by Tim & Chuck Miller--Eds. Underwood

KINGDOM OF FEAR: The World of Stephen King

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Taken together, these essays and encomiums to King sound more like a testimonial dinner than a critical compendium. It is telling that the book--the second such collection by the same editors--has six separate introductions and a foreword. Nearly every piece is a broad overview. There are only so many times that even the staunchest fan of King's work will want to hear that his stories may not be timeless prose, but sure are gripping, or that his use of commonplace details and appealing characters makes the terror that much more terrifying. Is King subversive or conservative? How do clichÉs and brand-names serve his realism? What are the implications of his sensationalism? The issues are interesting, but rather than each writer taking one and thinking it through, they each take a stab at them all. Harlan Ellison on why King's books make bad movies is an exception. He says they are not mimetic at all, but essentially allegorical. Don Herron, in the token negative essay, presents a welcome counterpoint. King's own introduction, as well as many of the essays, is more instructional than critical, obviously written with the fledgling terror-scribe in mind. With contributions by Robert Bloch and Whitley Streiber, this particular audience will find much good advice. There is intelligence at work here, and King's mastery of his genre is worth study. But taken as a whole, this collection is redundant and sycophantic.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1986
Publisher: Underwood-Miller