Topic: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Stephen King is a legend, no doubt about it, but his recent works have left something to be desired.  The classics, such as The Shining, It, Carrie, and The Stand, were books that made my hair stand on end.  Most of them were read over the course of a couple of days because I just couldn't put them down. 

I'm not sure what the turning point was, but it just might have been the car accident.  Having your life ripped out from under your feet tends to change a person.    The things he's written since then are still great reads, but nothing with the caliber of the older works.  The Cell was awesome, and it rang (like that?) of terrifying older King, but nothing's measured up since then.  There's been a lot of relationship fluff, and I understand that love is important and all, but it's not what horror readers crave. 

Just After Sunset is the current release of short stories, and after reading the first three stories, the book has been sitting on my nightstand.  It's uninspiring, and it makes me really sad.  What it really makes me wonder, is... does Stephen King still have an edge?  Is he still horror's most reliable writer? 

Do you think he's still got it?

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

A lot of things influenced his early writings and I am out on a limb with this I am sure, and my apologies to Mr. King, but his substance abuse surely had affect/effect on his thought processes.
I agree that the accident had a impact on his writing.
It took me three attempts to finally read The Cell, and somewhat enjoyed it.
Lisey"s Story was okay.
Blaze tried to read, could not.
Duma Key, really enjoyed.
Have yet to read Just After Sunset.
I have to say I miss the pre-accident King.
But he still is one of my  favorite horror authors.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Sorry, King lost me a long time ago.:( I dunno if it was his drinking problem or the accident. The magic left somewhere in the late 80's I reckon. AND of course Twilight Eyes by Dean Koontz cemented it for me with him smile
Joe Hill (King's Son) surprised me with his work, which I enjoy alot.
Honestly, King should teach writing.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

I've decided to start working my way consecutively through all of the King books that I haven't read (other than the Dark Tower series) and it's very true, his new work just doesn't measure up, but we still have his old books I suppose hmm

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Hi, Zomboy!  It hasn't even crossed my mind to read the Dark Tower series.  Has anyone?

The drug topic is so interesting to me.  I have a theory about substance abuse and creativity...  but only in extremes, i.e., The Beatles.  I say, give them all the drugs they want, as long as they are putting out work that betters the whole of mankind.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Dark Tower? Yes oh yes big_smile
it's epic.
It's a grand twisted tapestry of a fable, where realities collide and we catch glimpses of the reality beneath.
It's not his classic horror it's more like Lord of the rings goes on a roadtrip with the Grateful Dead wink
I've not finished the series yet but I'm working on it.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

I would say that he has definitely lost his edge. I haven't read Just After Sunset yet, but after reading Duma Key and The Cell I think he's lost it.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

<INSERT MACHO NAME HERE> wrote:

Dark Tower? Yes oh yes big_smile
it's epic.
It's a grand twisted tapestry of a fable, where realities collide and we catch glimpses of the reality beneath.
It's not his classic horror it's more like Lord of the rings goes on a roadtrip with the Grateful Dead wink
I've not finished the series yet but I'm working on it.

What he said Constance, the Dark Tower is some of my favorite stuff by King.  And at least if you do decide to read it, you won't have to wait years and years in between books like I did.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

mdc666 wrote:
<INSERT MACHO NAME HERE> wrote:

Dark Tower? Yes oh yes big_smile
it's epic.
It's a grand twisted tapestry of a fable, where realities collide and we catch glimpses of the reality beneath.
It's not his classic horror it's more like Lord of the rings goes on a roadtrip with the Grateful Dead wink
I've not finished the series yet but I'm working on it.

What he said Constance, the Dark Tower is some of my favorite stuff by King.  And at least if you do decide to read it, you won't have to wait years and years in between books like I did.

Me too! Me Too!
What mdc said!
You can read it without waiting.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

^ In a weird way, I think that might be part of the problem, and for other authors as well, not just King.  In the past, you had to wait ages in between books and each new story was an 'event' for fans but now it seems like there's a new book every six months or so.  If he's rattling them out at that rate, the quality will obviously suffer.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

I had no idea about The Dark Tower series!  Those are some glowing recommendations.  I will definitely put that on my to-do list.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

I seem to be the minority, I've tried to read "The Drawing of the Three" 3 times! Each time I just can't get into it. I think I'll give it a few years and then try again

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

I love The Dark Tower and I read it as he wrote them, so I was always crazy for the next one.  I definitely recommend it Constantce.  I really enjoyed The Cell and Duma Key; still haven't finished Blaze yet but really should.  I've only read a few of the short stories in Just After Sunset but I really liked the ones I read.  I love his old short stories so much and they aren't really like them, but interesting nonetheless.  I really do believe that drugs and life experiences tend to alter the way writers write, but I still think there's another really good one coming from him(hopeful).  He really was a big part of what made me love horror and so I have a very soft spot for him. smile

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

This man has without a doubt contributed some great entertainment for us all, but he is only human. At some point in a persons life, they just lose the edge.

However, everyone likes a good comeback, and I have a feeling he might do just that.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Constantce wrote:

The drug topic is so interesting to me.  I have a theory about substance abuse and creativity...  but only in extremes, i.e., The Beatles.  I say, give them all the drugs they want, as long as they are putting out work that betters the whole of mankind.

Just take a look at Hemingway. He was a drunk who said that he was too sensitive to view the depressing world around him and that the alcohol was the only way he could cope with living. He was a great writer. The question you have to ask is, was this because of, or in spite of the alcohol.

And I'm going to throw this out there, and I'll probably be crucified for this, but I hate all these people posthumously fellating Lennon. The Beatles' msuic isn't nearly as good as people make it out to be. It's good, yes, and they harmonzed well, and they ahd decent lyrics (however dated they seem now). And I realize that they were outrageously popular, but that's like saying that J.K Rowling is the best writer in the world because she has made more money than any other writer in history.

I'll concede that in the saem vein that Rowling gave the literary world somethign it may have needed (that being a set of books that was able to bridge the children's story and the adult book through multi-layered themes), in the same way that the Beatles gave the music of our country a new legacy. The Beatles are greats for what their music did. But that doens't mean that their music was as great.

It seems to me that it is kind of like the roots of mythology, where a man may have accomplished something wonderful and through time and rehashing they become larger than life figures. I think this is probably what happened with the Beatles. But they are no better or worse for it.

You want to hear amazing harmonizing? Listen to Queen. You want to hear great, thoughtful lyrics? Listen to Nirvana. You want to listen to wierd psychedelic shit? Listen to the Grateful Dead. You want to listen to music that has good examples of all of the above, that's when you listen to the Beatles.

Please excuse my digressions. The real point of all this is that when you look at the timeline, you ahve to realize that musical artists and writers do not live in a static reality. And drug or alcoholism don't have to be huge factors, though in many extreme cases, as Constance has noted, they are. Why can't it just be that Stephen King is at a new place in his life. Even if you don't particularly like his newer works, you still have to recognize the fact that as he matured as a writer, his themes have become more finely tuned, his notions more subtle. He even admits that he is not a particularly good writer, but rather he's just a pretty good storyteller.

I really have the feeling that this is less about the quality of Stephen King's writing and more that he has evolved with a newer, different voice and many of his fans still want the old King. But why should we stifle him?

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Hmmmmmm.  While you have interesting points, I respectfully disagree on a few. 
Yes, King's changed.  I don't know that it is "matured" - but I do question his "horror edge" which is most certainly faded.  Is he less of a writer?  I'm not saying that at all.  But as far as fright factor, not so much.

And the Beatles?  You address harmony, lyrics and psychedelia - but not general musicality, or the Big Picture.  It's not the sum of the parts, but the whole.  Example... Wings and solo Lennon vs. The Beatles.  Band on the Run vs. Happiness is a Warm Gun or And your bird can sing or Golden Slumbers.  Now, I'm not one of those "Imagine is the best song ever written" people, but I do think that The Beatles catalog is the best written in rock history.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

i dropped him after Desperation & The Regulators.  As a matter of fact, I dropped most of my reading after that.  Haven't had much time for it I guess.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Constantce wrote:

I'm not sure what the turning point was, but it just might have been the car accident.  The things he's written since then are still great reads, but nothing with the caliber of the older works.  The Cell was awesome, and it rang (like that?) of terrifying older King, but nothing's measured up since then.

I agree very much with those statements, ive never been the biggest King fan, Clive Barker was always my personal favorite growing up.

Kings newer works just dont seem to have the same magic as before, its not about writing maturity or changing styles of what you put out in the world, i think something INSIDE him has changed and that obviously reflects in his product.

whether it has to do with the accident or not, i feel whatever he`s tapped into for his work in the past has run dry.
so he is drawing from a new different source, perhaps better or worse, only time will tell.

i loved the cell, for the most part, then again im am a huge fan of stories containing the apocalypse and zombies.
i found with that book, as with many of his stories, theres no real ending..just a sudden drop off at the end which feels like a punch in the balls to the reader.
thats been my only complaint about King until his recent less interesting work.

i seriously do want to read the Dark Tower series, i love what ive heard about it over the years, but every single time i get into the gunslinger i doze off...its just so dry at times i feel like im reading a mattress tag.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

You found the Gunslinger dry?
Well it does take place in a desert Surv big_smile
Seriously, persevere with it it's a great series wink

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Constantce wrote:

Hmmmmmm.  While you have interesting points, I respectfully disagree on a few. 
Yes, King's changed.  I don't know that it is "matured" - but I do question his "horror edge" which is most certainly faded.  Is he less of a writer?  I'm not saying that at all.  But as far as fright factor, not so much.

And the Beatles?  You address harmony, lyrics and psychedelia - but not general musicality, or the Big Picture.  It's not the sum of the parts, but the whole.  Example... Wings and solo Lennon vs. The Beatles.  Band on the Run vs. Happiness is a Warm Gun or And your bird can sing or Golden Slumbers.  Now, I'm not one of those "Imagine is the best song ever written" people, but I do think that The Beatles catalog is the best written in rock history.

Had I realized that you guys actually read my rants, I would have addressed more about the Beatles. As it stands, I realized I was digressing and was trying to get back on topic. That being said, what it comes down to is a matter of opinion, where we obviously have different ones and I think we can leave it at that.

In regard to Stephen King, I was really trying to simply give another point of discussion and as to whether or not he lost his edge, I had interpretted that as a writer in general, not as a writer of horror.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

I stopped reading King after "Cell".  I prefer his older books.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

Stephen King's books all suck. Looking back on his work even the ones I really enjoyed at the time weren't all that good. "Salems Lot", for instance, was only "Dracula" but with even less Barlow, and the ending of "It" was the lamest thing ever. I think it all went really wrong around the "Insomnia" point and then "Bag of Bones" had me throwing the book across the room in disgust.

I'd never buy (or read) another one of his novels but, in fairness, I'd probably never buy another Clive Barker or James Herbert again either. It's not just Stephen King who has been producing more and more dross but all the other big names too.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

All of Stephen King's books suck?  That's a bit of a stretch, wouldn't you say?  I can't see how "Carrie" or "The Shining" suck, but you're entitled to your own opinion.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

TiM the Zombie wrote:

I stopped reading King after "Cell".  I prefer his older books.

I am with you Tim, I prefer his older books and shortstories.

Re: Stephen King - Does he still have his edge?

I think King's best work is his older stuff.  But I have enjoyed a lot of his newer stuff.  I haven't read anything from LIsey's Story on so I can't speak to that stuff.  I really liked Bag of Bones and the last few volumes of the Dark Tower and Cell was really good too.  But the man set the bar so high for himself with books like the Shining, the Stand, IT, etc. that its hard to top some of that stuff. 
And drug use doesn't automatically make you a better writer.  The Tommyknockers was my least favorite Stephen King book and that was written when the man was totally addicted to drugs.