Dear Mr. King,
I’d like to start off by letting you know that I am not your biggest fan.
I have not read all your books.
In fact, I’m fairly certain that it is quite impossible to read everything you’ve ever written and if anyone tells you they have – which I’m sure many, many people do – they’re flat-out lying. No offense, but nobody does that.
Do you even know how many books you’ve written?
There are 48 novels, 115 short stories, countless essays, poems, non-fiction works and screenplays listed under your official name alone – not counting your various pseudonyms. It can’t take you more than, half an hour, say, per book. Your publishers must be very pleased.
But Mr. King, do you sleep? Like, ever? You must, because you said in an interview once that the ideas for your books came to you in your dreams. So you must sleep. You must sleep a lot.
But enough about this.
I’m not saying I haven’t read any of your books. Of course I have; several, even. It’s some sort of teenage ritual, reading your books, isn’t it – kids reading “It” or “Carrie” to prove how daring they are? And there’s no age restriction on books. I do wonder why that is.
See, you tell some crazy stories sometimes. Not scary per se – not for grown-ups, anyway – but not necessarily childproof either. I think what makes the difference between scary for children and scary for grown-ups is the use of “Evil”, the one with the capital E. You’re a big fan of Evil, aren’t you, Mr. King? It’s always possessing some characters in your novels, or materializing in clown-shape. Or nurses’ uniforms. Or freaking cars, for that matter. In your new book “Under the Dome”, it’s brain tumors making people do evil and disgusting things, necrophilia included. Evil Alien kids dropping Domes on American small towns, just to see what happens. The town a giant anthill, the Aliens holding the proverbial magnifying glass. Come on – that’s not scary! And it’s not a clever society-study either, as many critics claimed. That’s Science-Fiction turned cliché!
And that guy who has sex with those corpses? See, that stuck with me because I know for a fact that you stole that from Cormac McCarthy (and maybe the whole ecological-Armageddon angle, too). He basically writes about the very same weirdoes you do. Those backwoodsy, unwashed, illiterate middle aged guys who eat squirrels for breakfast and punch women for fun. But his weirdoes are not possessed, and they’re not evil. They’re just damaged – badly, I admit. They’re damaged and raw and lost. Left in an indifferent world to their own meager and often brutal devices. But here’s the difference: his characters are still human, “Children of God” even them. No brain tumors, no aliens, no Evil. They’re real. Which is why they scare the sweet bejesus out of me.
But there is one thing that you can do that McCarthy isn’t quite so comfortable with: you’re funny as hell, Mr. King, I give you that. Those chapters from the stupid dog’s point of view? Hilarious! And witty, too.
I do appreciate the way you respect your readers without taking them, and yourself, too seriously. I admire that you can string together 15 different storylines and keep them all equally entertaining (Do you write your books backwards, too? I heard John Irving uses that technique to deal with his storylines). It is wonderful how relaxed you are, lining up cliché after expected cliché (“There’s no place like Dome”? Honestly?!) only to then, out of nowhere and with astonishing ease, having the narrator comment on “the magic of narration” itself. Kudos, Mr. King. I love how unpretentious you are in your writing; whimsically hiding tiny jewels of modernist techniques within traditional, straightforward storytelling. I expect it takes a lot of confidence to let go of all the seriousness common in your line of work. To write for the reader and not for your ego alone.