Posts Tagged ‘Stephen King’

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Mike Thorn, who released his debut collection Darkest Hours towards the end of 2017 through Unnerving. Thorn’s Darkest Hours is a collection of 16 stories that run the gamut of the various horror sub-genres from bizarro to splatterpunk and everything in between. Just a few of the things you will find in Darkest Hours is alternate dimensions, deadly cults, ghosts, manipulations of reality, human monsters and so much more. I will be posting my review of Darkest Hours tomorrow, so please stop by and check that out as well. Today, Mike stopped by to share his favorite Stephen King books from each decade of his career. What are your favorite King books? Does your list look like Mike’s or a little different?

I would like to thank Mike for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf, and be sure to grab a copy of Darkest Hours from the links below!

“Favorite King Book for Every Decade” by Mike Thorn

1970s – Rage (1977)
Runner ups: The Shining (1977), The Long Walk (1979)
Published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, Rage is aptly named. This novel brings brutal, furious social diagnosis to bear on a plot that’s condensed in time and space. The bulk of the narrative plays out when twisted protagonist Charlie holds his high school classmates hostage, subjecting them to a forced, Lord of the Flies-inspired psychotherapy session. This is a stunning early novel, driven by King’s already-polished sense of voice and carefully channeled anger. It also anticipates many of the author’s career long fixations – the damage caused by abusive adults; the bestial instincts lurking beneath societal veneers; and the psychological processes of outsiders. I devoured the entire novel in one sitting, but its readability should not be mistaken for disposability. This is a thoughtful, challenging novel and a glimpse of even greater things to come. Sadly, it feels more prescient than ever, given the recent tragic events in the United States.

1980s – It (1986)

Runner ups: Christine (1983), Pet Sematary (1983)
To my mind, the eighties saw King at his peak (which is no minor statement, given his remarkable output in other decades). It showcases the author at his boldest, most ambitious, and yes, his most reckless. The novel is excessive, teeming with ideas of micro- and macrocosmic scale that amount to nothing less than a series of lofty, summative statements: this book is about horror itself, both as a genre and an affect, but it’s also about the social cultivation of violence, prejudice, and the problematic notion of nostalgia. Is the titular monstrosity the result of socialized human beliefs and behaviors (especially those rooted in ignorance and fear), or is it much bigger than that? Is it in fact the face of some malicious cosmic order? King’s novel suggests that It might in fact be both, but this author does not set up camp in the same pessimistic territory as, say, Thomas Ligotti. No, even when he’s dishing out his most horrific material, King argues for humankind’s positive potential; even It finds affirmation within all the damning critique.

1990s – Dolores Claiborne (1992)

Runner ups: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999), Hearts in Atlantis (1999)
Alongside Gerald’s Game, Dolores Claiborne was published in the first year of what appears to be a distinct cycle in King’s oeuvre rounded out by Rose Madder (1995) and, to a lesser extent, Insomnia (1994). To varying degrees, all four of these books deal with patriarchy and its profoundly negative impact on specific women. If you ask me, Claiborne is the most focused and beautifully written of the four. Written as a sprawling exercise in stylized first-person narration, this novel depicts its title character’s long, excruciating marriage to an abusive man. Claiborne lends attention not only to domestic context, but also to the ways in which social institutions fail to help Dolores and her daughter. It is by no means King’s first or last “non-horror” work, but it is one of his finest novels written outside the genre.

2000s – Dreamcatcher (2001)

Runner ups: From a Buick 8 (2002), Lisey’s Story (2006)
Stephen King allegedly penned this epic novel by hand while under the influence of Oxycontin — in 1999, he had been struck and nearly killed by a van, and sitting at a typewriter for long periods of time was too painful to manage. This is the author’s first post-accident work, and it’s a bizarre book indeed – set in It’s fictional town of Derry, Maine, Dreamcatcher nearly matches that 1986 novel’s wild ambition. This is an alien invasion story filled with grotesque body horror, telepathic connections and alternating timelines. It’s also filled with a palpable sense of pain and longing for the past, addled by drug-induced visions and teeming with playful pop culture references. It’s a tonally ballistic book, maybe weighed down by the range of its ideas and the conditions in which it was written, but I absolutely love it just the same. It was one of the first King books I read; the impact has been long-lasting and profound.

2010s – Full Dark, No Stars (2010)

Runner ups: Mr. Mercedes (2014), The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015)
Comprised of four absorbing novellas, Full Dark, No Stars shows Stephen King at his bleakest and most despairing. It’s an intensely moral book, underscored by severe reflections on the costs of violence and selfishness. Sometime around the late 1990s (I notice the shift most clearly with Bag of Bones [1998]), King’s prose style seems to change – it’s leaner, more focused than ever, often foregrounding inner and spoken dialogue rather than description. Some of his recent output veers surprisingly far from the unbridled, emotional energy of his early work, but Full Dark, No Stars appears to see the author back in the space that inspired him to write books like Roadwork (1981) and Apt Pupil (a novella from Different Seasons [1982]). It seems to me that the legendary writer has never been more lucid and fearless than he is here, charging headlong into the toxic terrain of human misdeeds. I look forward to reading whatever else he produces in the decades to come.

LINKS

Mike Thorn’s Official Website

Unnerving Magazine’s Official Website

Purchase Darkest Hours: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!

About Mike Thorn

Mike Thorn is the author of the short story collection Darkest Hours. He completed his B.A. with honors at Mount Royal University and his M.A. in English Literature at the University of Calgary. His fiction has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Dark Moon Digest, Behind the Mask – Tales from the Id and Straylight Literary Arts Magazine. He co-authors the horror-themed series “Devious Dialogues” with A.M. Stanley for Vague Visages. Visit his website (mikethornwrites.com) or follow him on Twitter @MikeThornWrites.

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Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Eddie Generous the creator, editor, designer, and publisher of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine. The most recent release from Unnerving is the anthology Hardened Hearts, which is described as “17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths.” I’m a relatively new Unnerving fan, but I love everything Eddie Generous has been doing so far. I’m pretty excited to dive into this one as the theme and list of authors sounds fantastic. Eddie is stopping by The Horror Bookshelf to share 5 Stephen King adaptations that he thinks are better than the source material. I’m curious to see the reactions to Eddie’s article as Stephen King fans have a wide variety of favorite stories and adaptations. I hope Eddie knows what he may have gotten himself into!

Before I turn over the blog to Eddie, I want to thank him and Erin of Oh, For the Hook of a Book Publicity for having me on the tour for Hardened Hearts.

“The Film was Better”

By Eddie Generous, Owner/Editor of Unnerving

Stephen King is in a rare category where there have been enough film adaptations of his writing that any number of lists can exist, and guess what, here’s another one of them. Starting with the closest to par, below are (in my ultimate and perfect opinions) the adaptations of Stephen King’s literature that were better than the original story.

  1. Cell – Novel 2006 – Film (director Tod Williams) 2016 release (2014)

Cell is the worst Stephen King book I’ve read (note, I’ve not read five or six of his titles, so maybe something’s worse). It’s all over the place, poorly edited, and slapdash in follow through. Not that there aren’t good points, because there are, but upping on the book is a pretty low bar.

Playing against itself, this adaptation was long without a distributor and found itself dated by years upon release. Much like the source material, this bad boy jumps around, relying on pacing because if nothing else, it’s quick. What really put Cell, the film, above the book was the finale, it’s rewarding and offers that lovely horror grin (changed by King due to customer complaints).

Plus, John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson never seem to fail, so there’s that too.

Cell trailer

  1. 1922 – Novella 2010: Full Dark, No Stars – Film (director Zak Hilditch) 2017

1922 is recent film and a relatively recent story. It’s one of four novellas in the collection Full Dark, No Stars. It’s been a few years since I read the collection, however, unlike the film, 1922 was not at all the standout, nor was Fair Extension to get right down to it. Big Driver and A Good Marriage were both deep sinking tales that awed and stuck with me. 1922, while not bad, was a somewhat stale tale relying on nostalgic notes, referencing Hemingford Home to tug the good ole’ strings of the Constant Reader. It’s a melancholy story that drags the reader along, never giving the hint of hope and thusly never giving much to hope for.

The adaptation did much of the same, but in a way that was loud when necessary and creeping under the skin at other times. The acting is fantastic and visuals alongside the almost Kubrick-esque score put it into one of the finest King adaptations ever.

 1922 trailer

  1. The Dark Half – Novel 1989 – Film (director George A. Romero) 1993

The Dark Half is a well-intentioned book that worked for me about half the time. There were bits that blew me away, but the characters were tough to connect with, if it wasn’t for George Stark and his loud pulp appeal, this thing might’ve floundered into something fully disappointing. The adaptation was screaming, faster, darker, and the visuals worked in a way that my imagination did not. The Dark Half is an ok book and a damn good film.

 The Dark Half  trailer

  1. The Mist – Novella 1980: Dark Forces, 1985: Skeleton Crew – Film (director Frank Darabont) 2007

The Mist is a novella that dwells, most availably, within short stories in Skeleton Crew, Stephen King’s second collection. The most recent adaptation was absolute garbage, worthy of cancellation, the characters were absurd and gaudily written, the acting was befitting of the writing.

Now, the film The Mist from 2007 is everything the original story was and more, particularly in the finale. The film version saw a horror twist that the master of terror did not and for that, it’s over the edge.

 The Mist trailer

  1. 1408 – Short Story 1999: Blood and Smoke (audio), 2002: Everything’s Eventual – Film (director Mikael Håfström) 2007

The adaptation of 1408 has an advantage over the others in that the original story was a sparse short story with huge space to roam in afterthought. The film explored everywhere it needed to be in order to be one of my favorite horror movies. The acting is perfect, there’s scope to connect and understand, letting empathy become toeholds for the terrors in room 1408 in the Hotel Dolphin.

Making a great film from a good short story is something worth noting and better the work of Stephen King is something special.

 1408 trailer

This list is right and perfect in every way, which is why you’ve nodded your head repeatedly since reading the first paragraph. I’m glad we all see this exactly the same way, so there’s no need to send me hate messages or question my views.

Hooray for Stephen King (also John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, and Thomas Jane)!

Links

Follow on Twitter: @GenerousEd

Unnerving Magazine Site

Eddie Generous’ Site

Purchase Hardened Hearts: AmazonBarnes & Noble, and many other fine online retailers.

 

About Eddie Generous

Eddie Generous is the creator, editor, designer, and publisher of Unnerving and Unnerving Magazine. Besides other books he published this year, he also is the editor and publisher of the anthology Hardened Hearts. In early 2018, Hellbound Books is publishing a collection of his novelettes titled Dead is Dead, but Not Always, and also he is teaming up with Mark Allan Gunnells and Renee Miller to release Splish, Slash, Takin’ a Bloodbath, a collection of short stories.

 

About the Hardened Hearts Anthology

 

17 stories of difficult love, broken hearts, lost hope, and discarded truths. Love brings pain, vulnerability, and demands of revenge. Hardened Hearts spills the sum of darkness and light concerning the measures of love; including works from Meg Elison, author of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Winner of the Philip K. Dick Award), Tom Deady, author of Haven (Winner of the Bram Stoker award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel), Gwendolyn Kiste, author of And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Pretty Marys All in a Row, and many more.

Hardened Hearts dips from speculative, horror, science fiction, fantasy, into literary and then out of the classifiable and into the waters of unpinned genres, but pure entertainment nonetheless.

The Author Line-up

Foreword by James Newman

“It Breaks My Heart to Watch You Rot” by Somer Canon

“What is Love?” by Calvin Demmer

“Heirloom” by Theresa Braun

“The Recluse” by John Boden

“40 Ways to Leave Your Monster Lover” by Gwendolyn Kiste

“Dog Tired” by Eddie Generous

“The Pink Balloon” by Tom Deady

“It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” by J.L.Knight

“Burning Samantha” by Scott Hallam

“Consumed” by Madhvi Ramani

“Class of 2000” by Robert Dean

“Learning to Love” by Jennifer Williams

“Brothers” by Leo X.Robertson

“Porcelain Skin” by Laura Blackwell

“The Heart of the Orchard” by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi

“Meeting the Parents” by Sarah L. Johnson

“Matchmaker” by Meg Elison

 

The long and brutal winter where I live seems to have finally come to an end! Believe it or not, summer is just around the corner, and I can’t wait! I have an extended vacation from work and that means a lot more free time for reading some awesome horror books. In celebration, I wanted to start gathering some of my most anticipated reads that are scheduled to hit shelves this summer. I will be listing these in a few installments, featuring anywhere from 3-5 novels at a time, for a few reasons. The most important one being that I am constantly discovering books I want to read, so I don’t want to leave any out! Here are the first three books that made my list!

mrmercedes

Stephen King “Mr. Mercedes”(June 3, 2014) from Scribner

This list just wouldn’t be the same without a title from one of my favorite horror authors of all-time! King has two books planned for the rest of 2014 and Mr. Mercedes is the first one up. Mr. Mercedes focuses on retired cop Bill Hodges who is still haunted by the unsolved crime that happened a few months prior in which a person drove a stolen Mercedes into a crowd of people and intentionally ran them down. Hodges is drawn from retirement and his depression after the killer sends  him a letter threatening an even more horrific attack.

I have loved King’s recent steps outside of horror – 11/22/63 and Joyland were phenomenal – and I can’t wait to see the surprises King has in store with this one!

Pre-order

montauk-monster-cover

Hunter Shea “The Montauk Monster” (June 3, 2014) from Pinnacle

The Montauk Monster is the first thriller novel from horror writer Hunter Shea and after reading the synopsis, I can’t wait to get my hands on this book! I have always had a huge interest in cryptids and remember being completely baffled by the remains that washed up along  the shores of Montauk back in the summer of 2008. Theories ranged from a turtle without a shell all the way to a failed experiment from a government research facility before being determined by many to be the carcass of a raccoon.

In The Montauk Monster, Shea utilizes the failed genetic experiment angle to craft a story that seems absolutely terrifying. I mean, this book has it all! Creepy monsters? Check. Shadowy, top-secret projects from the government? Check. One thing is for certain after reading the synopsis of this book. Seeing how there is not just one but MANY of these creatures terrorizing the residents of Montauk, I will probably be afraid to ever step foot in the water again, fictitious story or not!

Pre-order

Vagrants-The72lg

Brian Moreland The Vagrants (June 3, 2014) from Samhain Horror

Brian Moreland’s new novella for Samhain, The Vagrants,  focuses on journalist Daniel Finley and the fallout from his most recent book that outs a sinister underground cult he encountered while spending six months in Boston’s underground writing an article on the homeless. The cult is after him because of his book and when you combine that with his attempt to save his father from mobsters, The Vagrants is guaranteed to be an action-packed adventure you will want to read!

Pre-order