Friday, September 21, 2018

An Open Letter to Stephen King

Dear Mr. King,

May I call you Stephen? Considering how long we have been together it only seems right.

Well, Stephen, it really has been a long time. You were around without me even realizing it. I read "Battleground" in a Scholastic Reader, but never bothered to see who wrote it. It wasn't until I read Night Shift that I knew that it was you. More on that in a moment.

You kept popping up everywhere I looked, it seemed. I remember my friend's mother reading The Stand (the one with the black cover, with the crow). The folks for whom I would babysit had plenty of your paperbacks laying around.

But, the official start to our relationship began on a normal Sunday afternoon. I was flipping through channels on the old TV, when I came across the end of a little movie known as Carrie. I was just in time for the final jump scare, which did it's job, as I literally jumped out of my seat. Once my heartbeat returned to normal, and my legs stopped shaking, I headed right across the street, to the aforementioned folks that I would babysit for, and asked if I could borrow one of your books. My neighbor handed over Night Shift, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Not only did I learn that I had already met you (see "Battleground," above), but I was introduced to an amazing array of stories, many of which are still favorites of mine.

I don't know about you, but I jumped in to our relationship with both feet. Firestarter. Christine. Cujo (which I read in one sitting). Different Seasons. Skeleton Crew. I could go on and on, but I'm pretty sure you know what you have contributed to this relationship. I even read a couple of The Bachman Books. (And I'm still kicking myself for not grabbing that original copy of Rage, that I found at a used bookstore.

I remember the first time I read The Mist. I was sitting on the floor of my bedroom, with my back to the only window. I was lost in the story. My mother called upstairs, asking me to walk the dog. For just a moment, one terrifying moment, I thought "Is she crazy?! I'm not going out THERE!" Of course, when I looked out the window, I saw that it was a beautiful, sunny day. Such is the power of your stories.

I've loved so many of the gifts that you have given to me, but it hasn't always been wine and roses. Many's the time that I have called Pet Semetary the "second most boring book I have ever read." (The first is Jane Eyre.) But, you know, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood. As the saying goes, it's not you, it's me. I plan on revisiting Pet Semetary sometime in the future. Perhaps, now that I no longer take you for granted, I will see it in a new light.

Of course, there have been other misfires. No relationship is perfect. I couldn't get in to Gerald's Game or The Dark Half, and The Gunslinger left me cold. I know I drifted away for awhile, and ignored many of the things you tried to use to lure me back. It wasn't until Duma Key that I was finally ready to let you back into my life.

Duma Key was...okay. Good enough to keep me around. I moved on to Under the Dome, and WOO BOY, what a great book. Well, until that ending. I know plenty of people who defend the end, but it was just a bit too jarring for my taste. At this point, I was nervous and shy. Afraid to fully give you my heart.

But, oh my dearest Stephen, I have just finished reading The Outsider, and now I am all in. Not only was this an AMAZING story, one that I never wanted to put down (damn day job, getting in the way of my reading), but you introduced me to one of my favorite characters in literature: Holly Gibney! I know. I know. I'm late to the party, but, trust me, I will be picking up Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch forthwith.

Despite all of the ups and downs, ours has been a mostly positive relationship. Thank you for all of the years that you have given me, and I apologize for the times that I have abandoned you. I can't promise that things will always be as good as they are now, but I'm still in it for the long haul. And I hope you are, too.



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