First off, let me say I am in no way criticizing Stephen King with this post. The guy is an amazing writer and prolific as heck, to boot. His book, “On Writing”, should be required reading for any writer.
I have read a lot of his novels over the years, but more recently have listened to many of his audiobooks. I just finished “11/22/63” and recommend it. I think some of his best books are outside the horror genre, like “Shawshank” and “The Body”. “Apt Pupil” was one of the most chilling things I’ve ever read.
Now, to the point of this blog post – Mr. King, like most writers, has some tendencies, for lack of a better word, that he falls back on from time to time. These are some observations I’ve made, having read a couple dozen of his books.
* I think every single Stephen King book I’ve ever read, except “11/22/63”, has a character at some point who makes a fist of such extraordinary tightness that the character’s fingernails draw blood from the palm, usually described as leaving marks that look like ‘half-moons’. Every time I come across this in his books, I try to perform the act and fail. Maybe my personal hygiene is better than these characters, who apparently have very long and sharp fingernails.
* Black people are supernatural. “The Talisman”, “The Stand”, “The Shining”, and “The Green Mile” all feature African-Americans with clairvoyance or more. There may be more, but that’s what I came up with off the top of my head. “11/22/63” arguably had one, as well.
* Children know things way, way beyond what they would realistically know. The twelve-year-old protagonist of “The Talisman” compares somebody to Xavier Cugat near the end of the novel. You gotta be kidding me. The kid in “The Shining” seems way older than five, too.
* There are caribou in Colorado. This is mentioned twice in “The Shining”. I used to live in Colorado, and I never heard mention of a caribou. I did a little research after reading that and found out they are rarely seen south of Canada. How did his editors miss this?
* Stephen King loves to compare people or creatures to Xavier Cugat. He even did it twice in “11/22/63”. In case you don’t know who Xavier Cugat was, I’ll save you the trouble of consulting Wikipedia. He was a popular bandleader in Cuba early in his career and later in New York around WWII. Most interestingly, he was once married to Charo.
Before you leave a nasty comment for me, let me re-state that I like to read Stephen King’s novels, and this is just a blog post meant to mildly amuse you. I’m off to go caribou-spotting for the rest of the afternoon while listening to Xavier Cugat…