In the fall of 1994, I quit Stephen King cold turkey. Mid-book, I threw up my hands (and the book) in frustration. “That’s it! I’m done with Stephen King!” And I brought the book back to the library unread.
Oh sure, I would later gobble up all the movies and “television events” I could get my hands on, like a reformed junkie sneaking back to the old digs for a little taste. I couldn’t miss out on The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption, Storm of the Century, The Green Mile, and Rose Red, not when everyone else was enjoying them. But for ten years, I never read another word the Master of Horror wrote.
I read plays, I read mysteries, I read transgressive fiction and the classics. I read literally dozens of screenwriting books (more on that later).
Until the day I threw that book down in sheer exasperation, I was a King connoisseur. I’d read every word he’d ever published, that I knew of, even Danse Macabre,
his non-fiction exploration of the horror genre,
which at the time, I mispronounced
Not so funny when you know
that only a few years prior I thought karate was pronounced "care-ate."
King fans among you may recognize the date of my separation from his writing as just about the time he gave birth to Insomnia. That’s not a coincidence. I absolutely loathed Insomnia, and for the life of me I can’t remember why. I’d read and enjoyed the first three books of the Dark Tower series, so its connections with Roland Deschain and his *ka-tet* clearly didn’t bother me. I’d also read and enjoyed books with elderly characters before, so that couldn’t have been the reason, either; my own debut novella, Scavengers, is narrated by a retired gentleman-- *something* about the book must have stuck with me. I like to think I dropped it because I noticed what Stephen King himself would eventually admit about Insomnia and Rose Madder, that they are
“stiff, trying-too-hard novels.”