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On second thought

August 19, 2021

The woman who did our book reviews at a magazine where I worked in my twenties used to turn up every few weeks with carrier bags full of the books she’d been sent by publishers. The bags were left on a table for the staff to pick through. I discovered a couple of writers I liked through that book pile. (One, I know, was Joanna Trollope.) I also investigated and dropped some other writers.

I can’t remember which Stephen King I pulled out of the that pile. It might have been Carrie. I do remember, like Dean Koontz before him, I read that one King novel, dismissed him as a horror writer and never went back.

I was surprised years later when I discovered my partner Mike was an avid King reader. Oh, well, he was also an avid reader of science fiction, which did not interest me in the least either. (Unless you’re talking Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett, whose sci-fi novels were laugh out loud funny.) 

After Mike’s death in 2011, his son told me he would like his father’s books. I did keep some, but I had no qualms packing up all the Stephen Kings, along with all the sci-fi. I was glad they would be finding a home with someone who would appreciate them.

I was even more surprised to discover my friend Irmani was a huge Stephen King fan. Mind you, she’s a very eclectic reader, but still. I’d somehow relegated King as a guy’s writer. You know, like Tom Clancy. 

Some years ago I read a review 11-22-63 and thought it did sound intriguing. When I later spotted a copy at the library I took it out. I was very pleasantly surprised. When Irmani waxed lyrical about Mr Mercedes, the first in the Bill Hodges trilogy, I ordered it. If you feature a clapped out detective in any novel you’ve already won me part way over. Thoroughly enjoyed the second novel in the series as well. (The third was a bit more problematic as it involved the ability of one character to psych people into committing suicide. Probably not the best thing for me to be reading when I was in the midst of a major bout of depression.)

Suffice to say I became interested enough to pick up King novels spotted in used book stores or at the annual library book sale.

I’ve been having a tough time reading in recent weeks. Instead of curling up in bed with a novel for two or three hours at night, I’d be lucky if I managed half an hour before I found myself disengaging, no longer able to concentrate. This was a rather worrying development. 

And then, on Monday, at a board meeting, I noticed that one of the other board members had a copy of King’s latest novel, Billy Summers. He’d just finished it and was happy to lend it to me. Got into bed that night and was sucked in immediately. Finally (and reluctantly) turned the light off at well past three in the morning. Hallelujah!

Not for the first time I find myself looking back with regret at those boxed up Stephen King novels dispatched so casually to Mike’s son. If only I’d known. 

From → Reading

  1. krysross permalink

    Especially since the son turned out to be such a douche-bag

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