Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reader's Diary #556- Stephen King: Just After Sunset

Yes, I realize a Stephen King book is more suited for Halloween than Christmas. In my defense, it was-- if memory serves, and let's face it, it rarely does-- a Christmas present last year, so it's somewhat fitting. Actually, it had been my intention to read it this past October, but I got bogged down in Kenneth J Harvey's clunker Blackstrap Hawco, which delayed all my reading plans (not that I'm bitter).

Was it worth the wait? Well, it's Stephen King so maybe not. As I've said many times, I now read King more out of loyalty than anything else. He was my reading staple in high school. To this day he's the author I've read the most of and will likely remain so since no author I'm currently into spits out a book every full moon.

Not that Just After Sunset was a complete disappointment. I got what I expected: cheap entertainment. But like the self-proclaimed salami of literature that he is, I got a case of indigestion from eating too much processed meat. Mostly I just got sick of the voice. It doesn't seem to matter to King whether the character is a psychologist, a writer, a salesman, a thirty something female, or an eighty something male; all seem to have to the same voice, the same sort of gutter wit, the same way of burying small doses of insight underneath pop culture references and the occasional curse word. In and of itself, I don't mind that voice, but with this many King books under my belt, and jumping from story to story in a collection such as this, it's gotten old.

Fortunately, and while he didn't shake up the voice much, I was pleasantly surprised to see King take some risks. In "N." King plays with the epistolary form, which he has done before but rarely. In another story, "Mute," the story is being told as a confession to a Catholic priest. And in one of the better stories in the book, King adds to the growing catalogue of stories, poems and books that draw inspiration from 9/11.

But despite the two or three gems, I was mostly bored. Alas, I'll continue to read King, hoping we'll reconnect somewhere down the road.


Allison said...

I think it's natural with an author such as King that you'll fall in and out of love with his work over a period of time. I know I have. I'm currently in the disillusioned stage myself, hoping we'll reconnect at a later date.

John Mutford said...

Allison: I know. But I don't want it to feel like having outgrown him. The man is much older than I am! Why couldn't he have changed along with me? Damn lack of common experiences. I don't want it to feel like I've turned into a snob for no longer liking him, either. Heck even Atwood has come forward as a King fan. What's wrong with me?