Tuesday, March 23, 2010

King of the Hill (part 1)

The other day I stumbled across a great graphic novel, Locke and Key by Joe Hill. I am one of those odd people who does read the dedications authors write in books. This one states “For Tabitha Jane King: literary locksmith, mother, friend. Love you.”

I thought “this is weird” so I googled Joe Hill. It was only then that I realized that Joe Hill’s real name is Joseph Hillstrom King. He is the son of Stephen King, Tabitha King and brother of Owen King, who is married to Kelly Braffett – a family of writers.

Hill chose to use an abbreviated form of his given name so that he could be judged on his own merits as a writer. It has worked since his novels have been listed on the New York Times best seller list, Heart Shaped Box reached #8 and his latest Horns reached #10 this week and is climbing up the chart. To keep the members of the family separate I will use their initials in this blog.

What can be said of Stephen King , the patriot of the family. One quote I love of his is: “People want to know why I do this, why I write such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the heart of a small boy......and I keep it in a jar on my desk.”

SK was the potato chip writer of my teen years, once you read one page you grabbed for the next page and then onto the next book. SK is such a talented writer that he has written everything from short stories, screen plays and multi-volume sets such as The Dark Tower series. Hey, he even wrote a book about how to write, called On Writing! At the beginning of his career, publishers would only publish one book per year. They felt the public would not accept more and thus they would make less money. Therefore, SK was forced to release novels under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. I guess James Patterson’s publishers never heard of this theory as they release 4 or more novels per year by this writer.

My favorite SK novel is The Stand; the classic tale of good vs evil, simplicity/back to the land vs technology/Las Vegas glam, East vs West. This is a novel with multiple characters, yet it is easy to keep track of who is who. The time period could be now since we have been talking about H1N1 pandemic. The “Captain Trips flu” in this novel was originally developed as biological warfare. When there is a breech in security it quickly spreads across the US. The survivors are mysteriously called either by”Mother Abigail” the side of good or "Randall Flagg” the side of evil. Even though this book is of epic length, you can wiz right through it (I read all 1000 pages of it in a weekend when it first came out.)

SK’s latest book is Under the Dome. SK is the only author that could probably publish a book that has no blurb on the book flap or back cover. My first reaction to this book was, didn’t The Simpson’s do an episode like this?, but apparently SK had the idea for this novel back in 1970. Like the novel Lord of the Flies, SK examines what happens to people when they are isolated from civilized society. Like Darwin explains it becomes a survival of the fittest. Like a lot of SK’s novels, this one takes place in Maine when an invisible force field suddenly covers the town of Chester’s Mills and the people are trapped. The question becomes who is your worst enemy? ....or is it the dome? Like all SK’s work, this novel is definitely a page turner.

To be continued...

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