Should I just forget about Cujo? SPOILERS

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Sweet One

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2008
525
110
I've been thinking lately: maybe I should just regard Cujo like it never existed. And maybe some other King works like Pet Semetary, even though they're canon of course. I think it really might be time.

Let me just tell you:

Cujo was my first real intro to Stephen King all those years ago. I'd heard about and read a little, about the kid's vivid terror of a monster in his closet. It's really gripping. But when I forced myself to read the end, it put me off reading SK for years.

Yes, I'm talking about Tad's death. I couldn't understand why an author would want to do that, so I read much of what was then written about SK, including Douglas Winter's Art of Darkness. I found out why in an interview with King in a book called Masters of Fear, or something like that.

Back then, I sort of a King anti-fan, while other kids were talking about how great he was. But just as others discovered reading SK, one thing was for certain: I'd never encountered any writer who wrote more compellingly, who brought his character to three dimensional life. He profoundly affected me. And of course, I'd never read anyone who could write so heart-wrenchingly gut-wrenchingly realistic about a child's death, and his grieving parents. Like so my others, I was blown away with King's writing, but in a negative sense. I actually believed King was given mostly false advertising, because it wasn't fear that he was best at. It was heart break. If King doesn't understand why he received angry letters regarding Tad's death, well, some people just don't like having their hearts broken while reading a novel. I'll also say that king sacrificed one of --heck THE--most absolutely adorable and utterly realistic child characters I've ever read. And I've read a lot. He sacrificed him on the alter of Literary Naturalism because he considers that more important.

Now, let me tell you, I never wrote SK an angry letter. I believe then, and I believe now, that a character's fate is ultimately the author's business. As much as I might not like it, Tad is King's character, not mine. End of story. I know I wouldn't anyone else telling me whether to have a character live or die. It surprises me a bit, that I've never heard King offer this as a defense. He doesn't write to please his audience; he ultimately writes as he sees fit. Those who wrote letters only made things worse, it seems to me; King never re-vamped Cujo, and I suspect those letters are what inspired his creation of Annie Wilkes.

It was years later that a birthday gift of The Dark Tower: the Wastelands turned me into a bona fide King fan. I've all of the DT tower books of course, and the Talisman and Eyes of the Dragon. And some of the non-fantasy ones of course, though still not all of them.

Recently I've read the Outsider, Doctor Sleep and Revival, which was depressing and heartbreaking again, but very thought-provoking.

But it is always Cujo that I associate King with the most. Back then when Pet Semetary was being promoted as King's scariest novel ever, KIng was, to me, the author of deceased kids and parental grief, made all the worse because he wrote it so uncannily realistic. Tad is THE character that comes to mind first whenever I thing of King's work. He, and his demise, made a stamp on me that never quite washed away.

But I think maybe now it's time to just get over it; Tad's finished, he's dead, his folks knew it, King knows it, and it's time to move on, just as King often observes regarding real life.

Unlike King, I'd rather keep real-life tragedies out of fiction.

But why now?

It's pretty much because of The Institute. I could even more about how The Institute has blown me away more than any other King book, even the DT series. As to why, I did write a post explaining part of why that is in the Institute section. I thought of posting that thread over there, but, as you can see it's mostly about the Tadder. It's not that I think that Luke, is in any way an expy of Tad; he's more like Jake, although the situation he's in , and everything about it just grabs me even more. It's possibly the best novel about a kid facing off against Evil I've ever read. One reason is that the whole "killing the few for the sake of the many" is at the heart of the story, and also the theme of evil people virtually always rationalize their actions as good.

Anyway, The Institute is head and shoulders above even other SK works, in my opinion.

I have been an SK fan for years now, but I am now becoming far more of an SK fan than ever before. I owe it all to King's crafting of The Institute.

So maybe I should stop associating SK with the painful memories of Tad's death at all. Do they really matter, especially in light of the Luke Ellis story? The author who wrote THAT shouldn't be associated with characters he killed off decades ago. In short, I should just let go of the past. If Victor and Donna Trenton can do it, why can't I?When it comes to Cujo, I should just look the other way from now on.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
 

do1you9love?

Happy to be here!
Feb 18, 2012
9,234
70,045
Virginia
So maybe I should stop associating SK with the painful memories of Tad's death at all. Do they really matter, especially in light of the Luke Ellis story? The author who wrote THAT shouldn't be associated with characters he killed off decades ago. In short, I should just let go of the past. If Victor and Donna Trenton can do it, why can't I?When it comes to Cujo, I should just look the other way from now on.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?
1) Should you stop associating SK with painful memories? - Yes. It's ok to remember your heartbreak, but that should not be the first thing that you think of.
2) As far as being associated with his characters from decades ago I would offer this argument. Mr. King has been writing for over 50 years. If he had not grown and changed during that long period, he would be a stale, one-note author with probably a lot less money and long time dedicated fans. I personally don't believe its fair to not associate him with all of his characters, but I don't feel you should hold past writings up as a banner for who he is as a person/author/storyteller.
3) Mr. King has said that the letters asking for continuing the DT series played a large part in creating Misery, and he has also stated that often a character's death is surprise to him as well. He doesn't sit down with a thought that X must die in the next chapter, but sometimes it happens.

Lastly, I would say, enjoy your newfound enjoyment in Mr. King's latest novels and move on from the hurt.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
86,826
352,785
58
Cambridge, Ohio
1) Should you stop associating SK with painful memories? - Yes. It's ok to remember your heartbreak, but that should not be the first thing that you think of.
2) As far as being associated with his characters from decades ago I would offer this argument. Mr. King has been writing for over 50 years. If he had not grown and changed during that long period, he would be a stale, one-note author with probably a lot less money and long time dedicated fans. I personally don't believe its fair to not associate him with all of his characters, but I don't feel you should hold past writings up as a banner for who he is as a person/author/storyteller.
3) Mr. King has said that the letters asking for continuing the DT series played a large part in creating Misery, and he has also stated that often a character's death is surprise to him as well. He doesn't sit down with a thought that X must die in the next chapter, but sometimes it happens.

Lastly, I would say, enjoy your newfound enjoyment in Mr. King's latest novels and move on from the hurt.
...well said,well said!.....
 

Sweet One

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2008
525
110
1) Should you stop associating SK with painful memories? - Yes. It's ok to remember your heartbreak, but that should not be the first thing that you think of.
2) As far as being associated with his characters from decades ago I would offer this argument. Mr. King has been writing for over 50 years. If he had not grown and changed during that long period, he would be a stale, one-note author with probably a lot less money and long time dedicated fans. I personally don't believe its fair to not associate him with all of his characters, but I don't feel you should hold past writings up as a banner for who he is as a person/author/storyteller.
3) Mr. King has said that the letters asking for continuing the DT series played a large part in creating Misery, and he has also stated that often a character's death is surprise to him as well. He doesn't sit down with a thought that X must die in the next chapter, but sometimes it happens.

Lastly, I would say, enjoy your newfound enjoyment in Mr. King's latest novels and move on from the hurt.
Yes, I think you mostly hit the nail on the head. I've heard that too--that King doesn't always know at first whether a character will live or not. And he's said that more than once in reference to Tad in particular.
 
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