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Tag: stephen king

Stephen King’s 11.22.63 – A long overdue review/rant

I have been putting off publishing this review for so long. It’s just been lying in my drafts and I have read it time and again, wondering why it just doesn’t seem right. You know, it’s difficult to write a review that does justice to such a long book – long, not only because of the number of pages, but because of the content. Let’s just say, your everyday non-Stephen King author could have easily made three books out of it – for instance, a love story, a science fiction book and a historical fiction novel.

Now I have decided to scrap the “About the book + Summary + My Thoughts” review format and write this instead. I have just read horror fiction by Stephen King, along with a couple of non-fiction books. I haven’t read the Dark Tower series, so I had no idea what to expect from a combination of science fiction and King. I read about King’s upcoming book on New York Times and I just had to get my hands on it; which I did manage to, thanks to someone who (apparently) noticed my silent plea in the form of a Facebook link of the review.
Anyway, right from the cover, the book is fascinating. The first thing that caught my attention were the lines: The day that changed the world. What if you could change it back?
And that is basic plot of the book. The “What If?” When Jake Epping is led to a time portal by one of his friends, when he is asked to go back in time, to Dallas, to the day that changed the world, and save John Kennedy – what does Jake Epping do? Does Jake Epping decide to take the fate of the world in his hands and stop JFK’s assassination? Can he go through with his plan?
Like I said, 11.22.63 is not just science fiction. It’s one of those very long stories by Stephen King that you wouldn’t want to carelessly throw into one genre. Jake Epping is a very lovable old character. He is an English teacher from Maine, with a failed marriage, and not much to look forward to in this time. When he discovers the time portal, the ‘rabbit-hole’ as it is called, he finds a purpose. I mean, really, wouldn’t you say yes if someone proposed the idea of going back and changing history? And how bad could it be? – in case of this rabbit-hole, whatever time (weeks or years) you go back for, when you return, you have always only been away for two minutes. There’s a catch of course, but Epping doesn’t know it yet…
Saying anything else would qualify as a writing a spoiler, and I try to avoid that. In the rest of the book, you watch (well, read) history unfold. I have always loved Stephen King’s characters, but this is one book where I appreciated the scenery just as much. You feel as if you are experiencing history along with the lead character (Epping, who now prefers to be called George Amberson.) The romance, though quite natural for such a book about time travel, did get a little too soppy for my taste for a while. The explanation for the concept of time travel and the rabbit-hole, which is not revealed till the very end, is very intriguing – actually, it is also a bit confusing, I had to re-read it a couple of times.
Along with everything else in the book (the Sci-Fi, romance and history) there is that suspense that builds up until the very end. The What If? That’s what kept my nose buried in the book throughout – even through those few parts that seemed sort of unnecessary. King surprised me till the very end, when I decided I already knew what was going to happen, when I decided it was now sort of obvious… the surprises kept coming.
The ending is lovely, if you do ever decide to read the book (and I think you should!) don’t give up halfway through. Even though the length is intimidating, the end is worth it.

R.I.P. – Stephen King’s Carrie

Carrie is Stephen King’s first novel (published in 1974) and is one of the most frequently banned books in schools. I never did read Carrie, because I always thought I wouldn’t like it. Why? Because I already knew most of the story. With three movies and one horrible spin-off, it is hard not to know most of the story. That shouldn’t stop you from reading the book, though. Actually, you know “most of the story” within the first three pages of the book…

“Carrie glared at him with sudden smoking rage. The bike wobbled on its training wheels and suddenly fell over. Tommy screamed. The bike was on top of him. Carrie smiled and walked on. The sound of Tommy’s wails was sweet, jangling music in her ears.”

Summary: Carrie White lives in the small town of Chamberlain, Maine. Being a high school outcast, she has no friends and no life. She is victimized by her schoolmates and abused by her over religious mother. It all becomes too much one day when, after her gym class, in the showers, Carrie gets her first period. Since her mother never bothered to tell her what exactly a period is, Carrie assumes she is bleeding to death. The shock, coupled with a bunch of girls screaming at her, disgusted, telling her to “plug it up” triggers a power in her she never knew she had. This extreme outburst is enough for Carrie White to take control of her (till then only involuntary) telekinetic abilities. What follows is a chain of events leading up to one disastrous night, which is later popularized by the media as the Black Prom.

“What happens if there are others like her? What happens to the world?”


My thoughts: Like with most of Stephen King’s books, you feel yourself becoming a part of Carrie. It is a quick read and I loved the unique narration. The book is written in the form of newspaper clippings of the Chamberlain incident, science journal articles about telekinetic abilities, personal stories of the Black Prom survivors and book excerpts, all stringed together by the actual happenings in the form of a story. Starting with the first newspaper article, you know what happened in the town. What you don’t know, is how it got to that. Why did the odd teenage girl described in the articles do whatever she did and more importantly, how? You hear the story from so many different perspectives, scientific and personal, that it’s hard to figure out the truth. That’s part of the magic! You get to pick your own conclusion on the story.



Most of the characters are your regular high school stereotypes. Still, what I love about Stephen King’s books is the characters, and he hasn’t done anything short of a great job with these. From Carrie White to the (almost) real protagonist Sue Snell, the book has some wonderful, albeit slightly dramatic, characters. And if not anything else, King has nailed the horror element; the “makes-you-wish-you-hadn’t-read-it-at-night” horror element.


This was definitely a great way to kick-start the R.I.P challenge (though my planned kick-start book was Frankenstein, which I am not done reading.) Carrie is an amazing book and a must read for every Stephen King fan and anyone who enjoys getting completely freaked out!

Popsy: Nightmares & Dreamscapes

Popsy is a short story by Stephen King published in the collection titled Nightmares & Dreamscapes.



While it certainly isn’t my favourite from the book (a review of my actual favourite coming up shortly) I did love it compared to most of the similarly themed stuff out there.


Sheridan is a pitifully disgusting man – a gambler, who is paying off his debts by abducting children and “delivering” them to a certain Mr. Wizard. Even as he does it, Sheridan tries to convince himself he isn’t doing a bad thing. (You begin to loathe this guy right from the first line of the story.) This story starts when Sheridan sees a pale white, green eyed kid crying in front of a mall. The kid is looking for his “Popsy”, who has apparently went off to get the kid something to drink. Under the pretext of helping the kid, Sheridan puts him in the car and sets off. Though the boy seems a bit odd to him, he has no idea what he is in for.


“You’ll be sorry.” The kid elaborated, “When my Popsy finds you, you’ll be sorry.”



This is the sort of story that you enjoy more for the scenery than the plot – because the plot is pretty obvious. The way Stephen King writes, it is almost as if you are there in that car too, along with Sheridan and the child; only unlike the poor man you know something is coming your way. And you are terrified. I love Stephen King for the way he manages to make me pity even the worst of the characters – if you are a Stephen King fan, you’ll love this story!


Like I said before, the story is awfully predictable, though. Too bad they didn’t have the Twilight mania back then; if they had, I’m sure poor Sheridan would have guessed in less than a second what he was getting himself into.



Short Stories on Wednesday is a meme hosted at Risa’s Bread Crumb Reads.

Cujo by Stephen King

“They began to back up, and as they did, the dog began to walk slowly forward. It was a stiff walk; not really a walk at all, Ronnie thought. It was a stalk. That dog wasn’t fucking around. Its engine was running and it was ready to go. Its head remained low. That growl never changed pitch. It took a step forward for every step they took back.”



Cujo is a psychological horror novel by Stephen King. It is the story of a rabid St. Bernard. It is also the story of a little boy and his nightmares, a mother and a child, and an almost broken marriage.

Rating: 3.5/5

Summary: Cujo is a big, five year old St. Bernard, owned by the Cambers; a family in the town of Castle Rock, Maine. Cujo is a good, loyal dog; he loves his owners and they love him! That is, until he gets scratched by a bat and becomes infected with rabies. The dog soon loses touch with reality and turns into a crazy killing machine.

Four year old Tad Trenton lives in the same town with his parents, Donna and Vic. The little family has problems of their own – the scariest being the monster that seems to appear in little Tad’s closet at night. A frightening, wolfish animal that haunts Tad’s nightmares.

Fate brings the two together, when the only thing standing between the rabid dog and the mother and child is the broken down car they are trapped in.

My thoughts: Each book that I read by Stephen King, gives me one new reason to love him. This is not your typical thriller, and there are definitely some side-plots that seem unnecessary. The horror doesn’t start till halfway through the book and when it does start, not a lot happens. Still – I loved the book. For two reasons.

Firstly, as usual, Stephen King never disappoints you when it comes to the lives and the thoughts of the characters. Their stories are so intricately built – it is very fascinating. Even without the dangerous dog, there is a lot of evil in the town; just in the ways that people think, what they do. Each of the side-plots is a message on its own.

Secondly, what I love about King’s novels is that the monsters themselves are victims of circumstance. I pitied Jack Torrance (in The Shining) and I definitely felt horrible for ol’ Cuje when he got infected. I love that King has written parts from the point of view of the dog – the helpless creature, who hurts all over and doesn’t know who else to blame but the humans. The animal lover that I am, I really appreciated that King ended the book saying something positive about the poor dog. He wasn’t trying to be a monster, he was a good dog.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

(image courtesy: here)


On Writing by Stephen King is actually two books. The first is a vivid description of his childhood and what got him into writing: his autobiography of sorts. In the second part he tells us what, how and how much to write.

The title of the book might fool you into thinking this is “How To” book. It’s not. It’s a memoir. Even if it were, this book is the most refreshingly honest “How To” book I have ever read.

The first part of the novel is as entertaining as an autobiography can get. I don’t particularly like reading autobiographies. What King has written, is a series of anecdotes loosely stringed together. You know where he grew up, you know which schools he went to, you know he went through some pretty bad times(who doesn’t?); but you know all that through a bunch of hilarious exploits! I found the narration in the first part of the book rather spectacular!
In the next part of the book, King takes a broad approach to writing. He doesn’t give you a list of seven things you shouldn’t do – with no further explanation given. No. He writes about his experiences with writing. He talks about the process, not the results. He keeps the book very practical; he tells incidents that help you give that underlying advice to yourself, rather than a numbered list of things to do. Those never work, this will. He tells us how he wrote the book Carrie or The Stand. He writes with much ease about his shortcomings as well. King doesn’t just write about himself – he also tells us about other authors. There is no “sit in a quiet place” and “write five pages a day” here. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be disappointed.
I can list down the things he mentions. Writing paragraphs, giving descriptions, adverbs and the passive voice (which happen to be his pet peeves!!) But I think it’s best to read the entire book! I would recommend it to anyone who loves to read and write. It’s awesome!

Writing about Writing about writing!

Hasn’t every writer written sometime or another, about writing itself. You know, like the art.



Like Elmore Leonard, for instance (whom I only know as the guy Stephen King called “the great American writer”), in his Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing:

Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle (I wasn’t keen on reading it till I read the last word of the title. Do read the article!):



Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with “she asseverated,” and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.”


I had to, too! In case you’re curious, it means “to affirm”!


John Grisham keeps it (a bit too) simple. He tells young ambitious budding writers to write a page a day as a hobby, for starters! Does it work? You wish. I have done that since I was like three. Have you ever seen me write anything even remotely resembling awesome crime fiction? Sigh.


After reading a bunch of other rules by a bunch of other famous writers, I felt like I had accidentally stepped into the world of the ever useful self-help books. Of course, then I read what Neil Gaiman had to say:


“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”


This was the least helpful (i.e You don’t get the kind of help from this that you naturally begin to expect in the world of self-help books – even though that help isn’t really help, but you just don’t realize this while you’re still in that world!) and the most helpful (i.e It brought me back from the world of self-help books to the normal world, where it is actually the ‘self’ that helps the ‘self’!) So, this, as far as I am concerned, makes the most sense. What about you?


Need a Cliffs Notes version to make some sense of this seemingly random ramble? Want to be a writer?


Writing is a good place to start. Off you go!


Unless, of course, you still have that little spark left in you, that tells you there might just be something you left out. Like a secret ingredient that will make you an awesome writer, or something. In that case, do what I’m doing, though I’m not doing it for that reason. *vehemently shakes head*


Reading “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. An autobiography and writing guide, which might as well end up on my “Favourite Books Ever” list!

Books or movies?

What do you like better? I’ve always said that the movies that are based on books are either way worse than the books, or almost as good as. Never better; for the simple reason that, however extraordinary the direction or the acting or the camera angles (or whatever) might be, it’s still nothing without the story! And you have got the book to thank for that!! Here are two books that I loved the MOST, and the movies based on them were only a tad bit worse; probably only because I had already decided that the books were going to be better! Anyway:


1. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King:
Andy Dufresne is wrongly accused of murder, and is sentenced to imprisonment at the Shawshank prison. There he meets the narrator, Red, an inmate who is known for smuggling contraband into the prison. Andy gets Red to deliver him a rock hammer and a large pin-up poster of Rita Hayworth. Then he goes on to do something that has never been done before: escape Shawshank!
This is a novella by Stephen King that was published in 1982 as a part of his collection called Different Seasons. If there’s any author who knows how to create wonderfully complex characters and build up their lives, it’s Stephen King. And this book is definitely King at his best. The 1994 movie Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman received multiple award nominations including seven Academy Awards!

2. Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris:

Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee, is assigned to the case of a certain serial killer known to all as ‘Buffalo Bill’. She has to interview the infamous serial killer, Hannibal the Cannibal, as he is the only one who might be able to help them solve the case. Dr. Hannibal Lecter, once a brilliant psychiatrist, is now kept in a secluded chamber in high security in a mental institution. As the story unfolds, it is he who leads Clarice to the solution and helps her uncover the truth.
Silence of the Lambs is a book written by Thomas Harris, published in 1998 as a part of his Hannibal trilogy. This book has won the Bram Stoker Award for thriller fiction. The novel is one of the best in its genre. The 1991 movie based on the book, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins has won the five most prestigious Academy Awards.

Do make sure to read these books too, by the way, since I cannot imagine anyone who hasn’t seen the movies!



(This slightly uncalled-for post is my attempt at getting rid of a case of writer’s block that isn’t allowing me to write some things that I want to finish writing today! Hope it has worked!)