Stephen King: The Original Stephenie Myer

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Stephen King has attacked Stephenie Myer’s prose, plot and purpose of her bestselling books, not remembering that he was in her shoes back in the seventies. Nobody took King seriously back then. At first the critics ignored him. Then they attacked him. Now they’re finally beginning to take him seriously.

Robert Hunt once wrote of King, “Carrie was a potboiler, a routine entry in the then popular cycle of books about possessed kids. Cujo is silly, and Christine even sillier, with the film’s few impressive moments the result of John Carpenter moving away from King’s ‘hot-rod version of Carrie’ toward an emphasis on human characters. Cat’s Eye succeeds better than did Creepshow, although largely because the later film is perhaps the sort of thing that King… does best: simple, slightly familiar suspense situations that don’t take themselves too seriously.”

Hunt feels that the films are superior to King’s novels.

Kirkus Review (15th August, 1975) referred to Salem’s Lot as “superexorcism that leavest he taste of somebody else’s blood in your mouth and what a bad taste it is… Vampirism, necrophilia, et dreaful alia RATHER OVERPLAYED… (emphasis mine)”

Jack Sullivan’s “Ten Ways to Write a Gothic,” appearing in the New York Times Book Review in February, 1977, takes King severely to task for stylistic blunders: “To say Stephen King is not an elegant writer… is putting it mildly.” He particularly dislikes King’s use of parentheses, capitals and exclamation marks as points of emphasis in The Shining. “Sometimes non-punctuation or italics are used—quite arbitrarily—for gimmicky stream of consciousness effect.” In addition, the novel’s plot is obviously a re-working of Poe, Blackwood, and Lovecraft, as well as such films as Diabolique, Psycho, and the Village of the Damned…

Michael Mewshaw similarly attacked King. In New York times Book Review (26th March, 1978) he speaks of Night Shift stories as suffering form “twist endings that should have died with O. Henrgy, the hoariest clichés of the horror-tale subgenre… and lines that provoke smiles rather than terror.”

I could go on and on, but what’s the point? King was the original Stephenie Myer, ignored then ostracized by literary critics who loathed the facts that his books sold. They hated how he used punctuation. In the reviews above you can sum up their critiques into this one statement: King overwrites.

If King’s analysis of Meyer’s work is accurate—that it’s poor and limited writing—then it’s no wonder, because the critical reviews of King’s own writing is that it is overwritten.

The one thing that comes to mind is, that now that King has been receiving more literary acclaim, he is joining those literary elements he once waged war against during his early writing career. He has jumped ship, leaving behind being known simply as a writer (as he admitted time and time again that he is only a writer, stating that responses to the literary critics concerning his fiction will be resolved in the next fifty-years), and King has plunged headlong into attacking a successful writer the same way he was originally attacked after his first novel Carrie came out.

King has been attacked for overwriting, for using too many punctuation marks and parenthesis. King was also attacked for having nothing of substance, exactly as he is attacking Stephenie Myer today. To say that necrophilia is and men masturbating in women’s underwear is superior to the Twilight series is almost like comparing dog shit to vomit, apples to oranges, Lady Gaga to Boy George.

In the end, who cares whether King’s right or not concerning Stephenie Myer? The fact of the matter is that his own writing is overwritten, and one has to dredge through one-hundred pages before King hooks you. Readers have developed a trust in King, believing that after that initial one-hundred pages of drivel, he will hook them with entertainment.

Personally, I don’t have a lot of time. I would much rather get some meat within the first one-hundred pages rather than after. And while I’ve never read more than twenty-pages of Stephenie Myer’s Twilight, it seems odd that King would attack her. I have to wonder if he’s peeved that her bestselling novels have cut into his own paychecks.

Myer is simply obeying the first rule of business: she’s supplying a demand. King supplied a demand back in the seventies, much to the chagrin of literary critics everywhere. Now he has used his PR machine (instead of calling himself horror writer, he labels himself a “brand name”) to market himself out of literary absurdity among critics, and aligns himself more closely to the literary universities that have been honoring him with awards lately. By attacking the next Stephen King (who I say is Stephenie Myer), he is joining more closely to the literary critics who made his life a living hell in the beginning of his career.

One thing King has definitely accomplished is the creation of a metaphorical roadmap for Stephenie Myer. Although attacked today, she simply has to keep writing exactly the same way just as King wrote his way through the eighties and nineties (well, Stephenie Myer needn’t describe necrophilia or men masturbating in women’s underwear for her teen audiences as King did). Thirty-years later, following in King’s footsteps, Stephenie Myer can begin associating herself with professors from universities. Eventually she, too, may be honored by the magic of PR and marketing which has the power to change the world’s perceptions, and take a Stephen King’s necrophilia-masturbations and transform it into highest literature.

King began writing to those who wanted horror.

Stephenie Myer began writing to young girls who wanted magic in their romance.

King was attacked for his writing.

Stephenie Myer was attacked for her writing.

King supplied a demand for horror fans.

Stephenie Myer supplied a demand for younger audiences (minus the necrophilia and masturbation scenes).

King is now being heralded as being “closer” to literary greatness.

Stephenie Myer will have to make it through the next thirty-years. Even then she may never make it, because King has become that which he hated in his own writing career, when he was the original Stephenie Myer just trying to belong in the literary world.

No matter what you say about Stephenie Myer, no matter what you say about Stephen King, what they write sells. Both their writing has strengths and weaknesses. Both can be outspoken. Stephen King, once like the rogue band Greenday thumbing his nose at literary critics, has jumped ship and might as well put on a suit and tie.

Stephenie Myer will probably want to wear a business dress in thirty-years when taking her place beside King. Don’t say it can’t or won’t happen. The critics from the seventies who bashed King are now turning over in their graves as King is being honored repeatedly by universities and the literary world.

So I don’t think Stephenie Myer should worry about King’s criticism, especially since he was the first Stephenie Myer. She shouldn’t worry just because King committed mutiny and jumped ship, landing beside the very literary critics he once fought. He stands beside them now, turning in synchronistic perfection (a robot among robots), their faces trained against Stephenie Myer who is still in the boat. King picks up whatever he can hurl at her, just like a good literary critic (and aren’t these parenthesis reminiscent of King’s stylistic work?).

The truth of the matter is that in the next fifty-years—or the next five-hundred—it is doubtful that either King or Stephenie Myer will even be remembered. It’s possible that an unknown like Emily Dickinson or Lovecraft may be more famous than them. Or maybe Salmon Rushdie or some other writer from our time will exceed everyone else. The only thing that matters, in the end, isn’t how many books are sold. Edgar Allan Poe knew this. That’s why he became a harsh critic in his time, just as King has become a critic of Stephenie Myer.

Is it possible that King wants to follow in Poe’s footsteps? Probably. But who cares? I just want to get through the next hundred pages before I fall asleep.

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