Monday, September 8, 2014

An Abject Apology to Stephen King

A Facebook post by James Patterson has just put more fear in my heart than any of the last three books I’ve read by Stephen King.

Mr. Patterson, whose books have sold more than 300 million copies, posted a snippet of a favorable review from an average reader. He wrote, “You might not know that I read the reviews you post about my books… Sometimes I’m tickled pink by the nice things people write about them.”

I am the very definition of an Average Reader, and lately I have been disappointed by one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, whose books have sold more than 350 million copies.

I’ve expressed this by recently posting three-star Goodreads reviews of three of Mr. King’s books. (All are the audible.com versions… I love listening to audio books during my commute.)

I’m frightened that should Mr. King stumble upon these reviews, he would think himself entirely justified to drive up to my house, ring my bell and kick me in the shins when I answer the front door.

To spare you a visit to Goodreads – where you can read the full reviews here – the following is a summary of my trilogy of disappointment:
  1. Doctor Sleep – I enjoyed the book, but it was just too damn long. The audible.com version was divided into 3 chunks of 7 hours. I had gotten through about half the first part, then accidentally picked up the story halfway through the second part – and I was able to follow the story just fine. “You know,” I said to my wife, “Maybe… just maybe… Stephen King needs an editor.”
  2. Mr. Mercedes - This was another entertaining read, but it lacked any extra touches that might suggest it was written by Mr. King. I kept checking to see if I hadn’t inadvertently been listening to a story by Dean Koontz. Who, by the way, has sold more than 450 million books.
  3. Everything’s Eventual – To cut Mr. King some slack, I then listened to an anthology of older stories. Same result. The rub? Several stories seemed to go on and on without ending. You’d think the plot had run its course, but no. My oh-so-clever Goodreads analysis played this out by extending the review for another whole page to illustrate the point about how annoying it can be when things just… won’t… end.
If I’m really so clever, however, I should write a better story myself. But I know that unlike Messrs. Patterson, King and Koontz, I’ll never be able to touch more than billion souls.

I’ve sold zero books in my lifetime. On my very best day as a writer, I haven’t influenced as many lives as Mr. King has when he composes a grocery list.

Besides…

Halloa, Watson! What’s that? Is that someone ringing my front door bell??




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