Re: My Top 10 Favorite Stephen King Short Stories

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Re: My Top 10 Favorite Stephen King Short Stories

Postby AisA on Sun Nov 05, 2006 8:03 am

It's been a while since I've visited the forums...shame on me. I'm a little late with this post, but thought I'd rebut your commentary on Stephen King short stories by posting my bottom 10 Stephen King works...not necessarily short stories, as some of his novels were real stinkers too. You know I love King as much as anyone, and probably more than most, but even he has managed to turn out his share of dreck. Here, in no particular order, are what I consider 10 of his worst stories. I suspect that between your post and mine, this might open up some discussion. With flamethrowers.

10) The Moving Finger. Yeah, I know this made your top 10 list, but I don't know why. Shortly before this story was released, a friend of mine commented that he suspected Stephen King was afraid to go to the bathroom. Yup.

9) The Blue Air Compressor. It's probably not fair to pick on his early work like this, but that one was pretty bad. Gross for grossness sake, and characters flatter than a pancake under a steam press.

8) Night Flyer. A man meets a vampire at a urinal. Enough said.

7) The Gunslinger. I love the Dark Tower series, but I first read the first book when it was serialized in F&SF, and hated it at the time for its lack of interesting characters and apparent storyline. Even now, that I've read and internalized the whole series, it's still the weakest book in the series.

6) The Tommyknockers. OK, tinfoil hat time. I always have and still do maintain that Stephen King did not write this book. I know he likes to experiment with style, but his voice is still apparent in everything he writes. It is nowhere to be found in this book. However, wife Tabitha is also a (less successful) novelist. I suspect that, in the same spirit of releasing books under "Richard Bachman" to see if they would sell, he released one of Tabitha's books under his own name just to see if his name would sell it. There you go....let fly with the howling and invective. The line for tar and feathers forms to the right.

5) Bag of Bones. OK...that's a lie. I loved this book. I just hate the way King was a prick to his characters in the novel. Which probably means it was a better novel for it. Call it a love/hate thing.

4) The Green Mile. The story wasn't bad, but the marketing behind this one was an idea whose suckage was matched only by what Tor did with "Legends". Besides, anything that inspires John Saul to do a knockoff (The Blackstone Chronicles) can't be good.

3) Poppy. A boy whose grandfather is a vampire. Even a comic book adaptation couldn't save this one. OK...that's it King. No more vampires for you. Go write a story about a scary lamp or something....

2) The Colorado Kid. Yeah, I know I've defended it before, but that was just for the fun of being contentious. I like the fact that he experimented with something new, and understand what he was trying to do with this book...but boy did he fail at doing it.

1) And here's where I pull out the big bone of contention and slam it down on the table: Pet Semetary. Ian and I have argued over this one for years. Great movie; awful book (and yes, I have reread it). This one lacked just about everything that was good about King's books...character, plot, a good scare. Which is probably why it made such a good movie; it was the least difficult of his books to adapt.

**Spoiler Alert**

Really, how scary can a zombie cat and an undead four year old be? And just how much of a schmuck was that guy to go and bury his wife there after he'd just spent a night from hell battling his own kid? You can almost hear the characters screaming at Stephen, "What's my motiive, Steve?"

Anyway, there's my post-Halloween worst of list. Most of the stories Ian wrote about are actually very good. Not his best works, in my opinion, but good stories, and worth a read. The Stand should be held up as a paragon of 20th Century novels, and taught to every aspiring writer. Salem's Lot is still, decades after first reading it, one of the scariest novels I've ever read.
Now cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war....
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Postby Lynn on Mon Nov 06, 2006 10:11 pm

(Lynn sharpens up her chainsaw... :) )

But seriously...

Tommyknockers has a few things so clearly in Stephen King's style it's impossible for me to imagine this isn't his work. I thought it was okay. Not great, not horrible.

I thought Pet Semetary was pretty scary. But then, I used to hang out on an old indian mound in my home town area.

The Stand? (choke). Good GOD! Sure, it might be a great novel, if it was about 1/4 the size. I have tried and failed at reading a number of King's works, all of which are seriously suffering from James Michner syndrome, where you're 200 pages into the book and nothing has happened. The Stand and Talisman are the two worst, with It being in the running.

Now, I know we all have our own favorite and least favorite things, and none of us are going to agree. So, lest I simply make disagreements, let me list some of my favorite Stephen King works: Mrs Todd's Shortcut is probably my absolute favorite Shephen King Short. I really liked 'You Know They Got a Hell of a Band', one of his in a collection I have called 'Shock Rock'. I'm not sure if the Bachman books were novels or Novellas, but I'd add 'Rage' and 'The Long Walk', and maybe 'Thinner'. 'Word Processor of the Gods' was great. 'Cycle of the Werewolf' had King and Wrightson! How awesome is THAT? I'm sure there are others I have forgotten.

I have to say that 'Eyes of the Dragon' might very well be the worst novel I've ever finished. Not the worst I've ever started, but the worst I slogged all the way through. Wow... an entire novel where NOTHING happened. I didn't think that possible.

Now, I recommend that any fan of King's short work go out and get the 'Crawling Chaos' collection of H. P. Lovecraft's short stories.
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Postby AisA on Tue Nov 07, 2006 5:49 am

If you liked "You Know They've Got a Hell of a Band", you might enjoy watching the adaptation they did for Nightmares & Dreamscapes. Not great, but not bad either. Their Janis Joplin looked pretty dead on.
I'm also a big fan of the Bachman Books...especially "The Long Walk". "Thinner" not so much; too conceptual.
King and Wrightson? Did you see the illustrated version of "The Stand"? Wrightson's best work next to "Frankenstein".
I've met other readers who share your opiniion of King's longer works, but I just don't see it. One of the things that appeals to me about King's work is the way he fleshes out his characters, and in the longer books, especially "It" and "The Stand", he does a job with character that would have made Dickens envious. Maybe in the case of "It" the plot is kind of lacking, but in a book like that, I frankly read plot as being secondary.
Slightly off topic, but if you really want a book where you can be several hundred pages in with nothing happening, go read L. Ron Hubbard's "Battlefield: Earth". Or better yet, don't . 1000+ pages so he can make a pun about psychologists.

And yes, Lovecraft rules. More of his works are coming into the public domain, so he's developing more of a presence online. So like him that he'd come back from the dead in an altered (i.e. virtual) reality.
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Postby Limax on Tue Nov 07, 2006 8:09 am

I tried to read Cell, didn't finish it and now I never want to read another Stephen King novel or story ever. (I've read a lot of his work, including It, The Stand, the Dark Tower series after which he said he was retiring.... and a lot of others)
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Postby Tim Tylor on Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:42 pm

My favorite is "It". Big rambling book, bouncing around in time, mixing history, horror, and a dash of outright fairytale. Love it.

Most of Lovecraft's work seems to be online now. Noveltynet.org library pages has the best collection I know, with lots of his collaborations and other stuff.

I haven't found Elliott O'Donnell anywhere but online. He turned out a mass of stories, well-written and sometimes very odd and creepy indeed, and the only place I've ever seen them is in the HorrorMastersclassics library. I'm seriously surprised that he's not in print more.
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Postby Ian McDonald on Sun Dec 10, 2006 6:14 pm

At the moment, I'm reading King's latest, Lisey's Story. No, I didn't buy the hardcover. I, er, downloaded an "evaluation" (cough! ahem!) copy, I found, via LimeWire.

The books starts off slow, but has since picked up a lot of steam! Unfortunately, a lot of the story is in the mind of the main character, and as such, it tends to ramble quite a bit. Sometimes it seems like it takes forever for King to "cut to the chase" in a scene, as it were. In fact, right now, I just finished a long section where King juggles no less than four time periods in the book: the present, and three sets of memories from different eras in Lisey Landon's mind. Bring a scorecard to keep track, folks!

And of course this is yet another of SK's novels about a Bestselling Author Who Lives In Maine. Good Lord, you read King's work, and it seems at least half of the people who live in his fictional Maine just happen to be bestselling authors! Talk about Writing What You Know! :wink:

That said, I'm really enjoying the book! It might just be the best of his post-accident novels (not counting the last few Dark Tower novels), chock full of mystery, suspense... and blood. Oh yes, plenty of that to go around! :D

BTW, Limax, what was so bad about Cell that you refuse to read another SK novel? I thought it was pretty good, actually. Not great, but a decent end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it type novel! Your reaction reminds me of how I felt after trying to watch David Cronenberg's Crash. I haven't watched any Cronenberg movies since! Ugh!

Later,
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Postby Limax on Mon Dec 11, 2006 2:46 pm

Ian McDonald wrote:BTW, Limax, what was so bad about Cell that you refuse to read another SK novel?


A lot of it just seemed way to formulaic, and reminded me a lot of The Stand, except that they were going to Maine instead of Colorado. The zombies in the football field was the kicker, however, and made me quit reading. There used to be a review online about the book by me, but the community that contained that disappeared a few months back, by agreement of me and the other moderator. I seriously felt that it was not his best work and I was starting to see too many similarities between it and his other novels.
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Postby AisA on Tue Dec 12, 2006 11:29 am

Ian...I know what you mean about "Lisey's Story"; the old adage is to write what you know, but I think King takes it too far sometimes. Even "Kingdom Hospital" was reworked to be about him. We get the point already, Steve! Give it a rest! Throw a dart at a map and write about a gynecologist in Boisie or something.
Limax, I started off thinking that Cell was just a rehash of The Stand as well, but by the time I got about halfway through, I found that it had a more intimate feel to it. In The Stand, the characters are secondary to the events, whereas in Cell, it's the other way around. He reworked the same themes from a different perspective, much like he did with Pet Semetary/Bag of Bones (IMO), which is not a bad thing.

BTW...Tim; thanks for that link. I'm always looking for good sites for online fiction, and good horror sites seems to be hard to come by (as opposed to say, SF, which you can't move three links without tripping over). I think I'll be spending a bit of time at this site...probably about as long as it takes my downloader to plunder it like Bruno in an unguarded treasure room.
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