August 16 – 22, 2019Vol. 21, No. 11

Maine's Stephen King

by Martha F. Barkley

I actually read the newest novel by our very own Stephen King, horror writer, from Bangor, Maine. I understand from last summer's Great American Read Contest all summer long, that one young man did not read anything until his first Stephen King novel. He read it from cover to cover. Now he runs a store in Bangor full of King's many hardbacks, first editions, paperbacks, and DVD movies. I still have not visited that bookstore in downtown Bangor.

Our family often stopped by Kezar Lake for a few days of boating and swimming. Stephen King had his own horrific near-death experience while walking his dog along the pot hole filled bumpy road around Kezar. Thank goodness he recovered.

Stephen King and his wife Tabitha — quiet givers to many Maine endeavors — gave generously to our new Belgrade Library a few years ago. I was the fourth or fifth patron to check out King's newest novel, Elevation, from our library in just a few short months. That shows how popular he is among Belgrade readers.

I figured, a short short novel of horror would go fast, maybe a day or two. I could (maybe) read to the end quickly. Well, it was not horror and I did read the story in a day or two because I wanted to know what was next: a real sign of good writing being a page turner. The small town was experiencing prejudice against two lesbian restaurant owners. "Lesbean" was the derogatory term being tossed around in the gossip among many. When a running contest came up, our main character in Elevation decides to enter due to his very unusual high energy level as he is mysteriously losing weight.

This is a weird tale, not the typical horror that King is so well known for. Losing weight, yet the main character continues pigging out, and even patronizing the "Lesbean" owned restaurant and its delicious menu. He wagers the owner of the restaurant, who has a well earned record of fast runs and first place finishes, that he, an obviously overweight, unathletic man, will beat her.

The ending of this strange tale is plenty weird, but not horrifying. I bet you can read it in one sitting, while I took two days. When I mentioned this newest Stephen King to several friends, I had the same reaction by every single one.

On Writing by King was the title mentioned over and over to me. It was published in 2000 and I just took it off my bookshelf in our Great Pond camp.

Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates...or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read...Getting happy, OK? Getting happy...Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.

"Drink and be filled up". Stephen King's advice is to be honored, so go check a book out of the library or read a magazine article or comic book.

He once received quite an honorary literary award and in his acceptance speech King gave all the credit to Tabitha, his wife. As newlyweds, she provided a corner of their trailer for his writing, next to the mud room. Every day after teaching, she encouraged her husband to write and type away on the old typewriter. King's corrections in handwritten ink are shown in this favorite book On Writing.

When Stephen King spoke to the award assembly, he went a further step when he stated that bestsellers are not necessarily less literate in comparison to the others honored in previous years. Sometimes, he reiterated, bestsellers are very literate and some popular authors may have a literary corner on the market, rightfully earned. That took guts for King to say amongst the very erudite audience.

The book list at the end on On Writing is worthy reading for many reasons, mainly because King lists them! My paperback has three Forewords signed by "Steve" — now, aren't you curious?

My wife, sounding out of breath but deliriously happy, read me a telegram. Bill Thompson (who would later go on to discover a Mississippi scribbler named John Grisham) had sent it after trying to call and discovering the Kings no longer had a phone [connected]. CONGRATULATIONS, it read. Carrie officially a Doubleday book. Is $2,500 advance okay?

Do not forget Tabitha King's Survivor and other titles...