Long Live the King

Stephen King gets a lot of shit–a lot of it deserved–but it’s always a little refreshing to read a defense of his work instead of another Harold Bloom-esque screed about the opiate of the plebes.

Personally, I have sort of a complicated relationship with his work. I’m pretty sure the uncut version of The Stand was my first foray out of Animorphs land and into the world of “grown up books” at age 10. I spend most of middle school obsessed and devouring everything from the King standards (Salem’s Lot, books one through four) to the minor works (The Regulators, regrettably). And then, somewhere along the way, we had a falling out, and I started talking shit about Stephen’s books behind his back.

But here’s the thing: Even if I never open another Stephen King book again, I still owe a huge debt to the guy. Say what you want about his myriad flaws, but when he’s at his prime, the dude can still tell a damn good story. He has one of the gifts that seems most undervalued among many modern literary critics: he can spin an engrossing story and keep you up reading much later than seems reasonable. King may or may not be an artist, but he sure as hell is a storyteller, and a great one at that.

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