Is it me, or is it Stephen King?

I’m struggling to get through The Journals of Eleanor Druse, the first Stephen King book I’ve ever read. There are flashes of good stuff, but the writing limps more than it soars. I find the protagonist annoying, the characters paper-thin, and the whole thing so tedious that I may not finish it – and I’m a person who almost always finishes books once I start them. I’m about halfway through this thing and already looking at my “To Be Read” pile for the next book.

So, am I simply unable to appreciate Stephen King’s brilliance? Or am I reading one of his stinkers? Or is this book typical, and he’s overrated?

Haven’t read The Journals of Eleanor Druse so I can’t comment, but I must say that Stephen King is indeed a fantastic writer when he is ‘on’. There have been times when I thought a book here and there was weak, but overall I have always enjoyed his work greatly.

If you are looking for greatness in storytelling, pick up * The Stand*. IT was another fantastic read, and I find myself re-reading these over and over again throughout my life, adding The Shining as another desert island book.

If you haven’t read these yet, I envy you; you are in for some of the greatest storytelling of all time.


I second these recommendations. I’ve given up on King’s more recent works and don’t even look at them, but the early stuff was great.

King has written a few snoozers, but even at his worst he’s usually more readable that 90% of the other writers in the genre.

I agree that The Stand, It, and The Shining are examples of great storytelling. If you don’t like these, you don’t like Stephen King.

Don’t judge him on the basis of a book that has not been ranked among his best.

I don’t think Stephen King wrote that. It seems to be ancillary to the American version of The Kingdom, which he engineered, but I doubt he actually wrote the book.

Go read The Stand. You’ll be much happier.

King’s earlier novels are his best. In addition to what’s already been mentioned, *Salem’s Lot, Carrie, The Dead Zone * and Firestarter are all quite good…as are most of the Bachman books.

I did note that the copyright is to “Sony Pictures Television Inc. and Touchstone Television” so perhaps this is some novelized script of a TV movie. That would certainly explain the uneven quality of the writing and the sketch-thin characterizations.

I’ll definitely have to try some of his early stuff.

And I’m going to quit reading this book – why waste any more time on it? I don’t even give a rat’s patootie how it all comes out.

I’ve never been a big SK fan. I liked The Stand and Insomnia but didn’t really care for any other of his novels (I read Christine, Gerald’s Game and the first 4 Dark Tower books)

I like a lot of his short stories and novellas more.

When I was in college back in the late 70s, Stephen king was my favorite author. The Stand, Firestarter, Salem’s Lot, The Body, *Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption * were all outstanding. But somewhere along the line, he lost it. Dreamcatcher was barely readable and I could not get through his latest tome, From a Buick Eight. I kept thinking to myself, “I remember reading this already when it was called Christine”.

I wouldn’t recommend The Stand to somebody just starting on King - it’s a pretty massive dose of his work for a first timer. I’d say start instead with Carrie or Salem’s Lot or The Shining.

You’re reading something that was meant to be a tie-in to a TV show that Stephen King had nothing to do with, but basically lent his name to for publicity.

Try an actual King novel! :slight_smile:

Yep. I buy every King novel the day it comes out in hardcover, and I don’t own this book, because it’s not a King novel.

I would also recommend The Dark Tower Series. It’s finally finished, so you’re not going to be strung along for over 20 years (or in my case, 10). It’s great work from start to finish.

I second all the other recommendations made. Also, check out his short story collections. His most recent, Everything’s Eventual, is a brilliant book that I adored. I think he does some of his finest work in short story form, despite his seeming fondness for epic length novels.

After seconding all of the King recommendations of my fellow Dopers, I would perhaps add Misery and The Dark Half, the latter being a sentimental favorite of mine. If you like the idea of a pseudonym coming to life and coming after you, you might dig it, too!

Absolutely. “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What it is in French” is one of the most terrifying things he’s ever written.

I’d submit that some of his best stuff isn’t the straight horror he’s most known for. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, The Body, Dolores Claiborne were all non-horror, and were great stories to boot.

I’ll second The Shining and It and also add Eyes of the Dragon to the list. It has a medieval fantasy bent and less creepy gooey horror than some of his other fare.

King’s early stuff is his best. Four Seasons Is a good one to start out with. Three of the stories have been made into memorable movies. It may be something that you can connect with.

I am surprised that nobody has mentioned Cujo. I read that whan I was 11. Yeah, a really good novel to read when you’re that age (yes I was reading novels when I was 11). I didn’t sleep for a while. I picked it up again 20 years later and still got chills when I read it. Didn’t help that my friend had a St. Bernard.

I’ve read The Stand and thought it sucked. I’ve read a number of his early short stories and thought most of them sucked. IMO, King is a third-rate hack on a good day. EddyTeddyFreddy, you may just be another person who doesn’t like his writing.

Oh! Then there’s Misery.

Oh, don’t start with Salem’s Lot if you’re looking for good characterization. It’s really weak in that respect, especially compared to his other early works like Carrie and The Shining. The only time I’ve ever read it, I looked up at one point and realized people were dying left, right, and sideways and I just didn’t much care. And I’m the one who threw The Stand across the room and stomped around in a sulk when I thought he’d killed off one character.

King’s real strength, imo, is his characters. The thing about a character writer, though, is that the characters either resonate with you, or they don’t. If they do, you adore the writing. If they don’t, you think it’s all utter crap. I love Stephen King, because his characters tend to resonate with me. I would read a novella where the plot consisted of Roland Deschain washing his socks and hanging them up to dry, that’s how much that character resonates with me.

Heh, I’d read that novella too. It could be called “The Minutia of Gunslinging” or something. He can brush his teeth too. Maybe clean his gun. Whatever.

I actually kinda agree with you. I loved him when I was a teenager, but in the past year or so, I forced myself to read final books of the Dark Tower because I really, really needed to see how it ended–I had the “gottas” as he called them in Misery, but I really couldn’t stand his writing style. But I really loved Roland. So there ya go.