Stephen King is Not Mean

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Sweet One

Well-Known Member
Jan 27, 2008
511
67
I took a look inside this book on Amazon:

Stephen King A Face Among The Masters - Kindle edition by Brighton Gardner. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

The author, whom I think I'm in general agreement regarding SK's place among the masters, makes the statement that SK is "mean" and even "heartless' in dealing with his characters. He seems to mean that in a "good" way, given the context, but it's still untrue. King is unafraid to kill off his readers' favorite characters, that's true, but it isn't because he's mean, and it's certainly not heartlessness. If he were, the deaths wouldn't come off as nearly as heartbreakingly realistic. It's because he's committed to the literary school of Naturalism. Now characters who are killed in a slasher movie, who are not generally intended to evoke sympathy with the audience---there, the author is indeed being heartless. But not King. With him, it's a whole different story.

Also, the author says that SK shows courage in killing off characters like
Tad Trenton in Cujo. I can't argue with this, especially in light of the fact that many readers (including myself) objected (I didn't send SK any letters regarding Tad's death,
but I've read that letters arrived by the truckload). I don't think I would, in fact, have King's guts. I would never kill of a kid in one of my own self-published stories though. Not because I'm chicken --it's just not what I do.
 
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Mr Nobody

Well-Known Member
Jul 9, 2008
3,318
9,051
Walsall, England
I think he kills off characters as and when they need to be killed off, be they who they may. Sometimes, as a reader, I might find a character death harrowing
(Gage Creed, for one)
, and sometimes the deaths are cruel - as they can be in reality - but there's always a purpose. Even the ones that seem purposeless, the 'local colour' stuff as main or other characters hark back to the past, are given relevance at some point - even if it's only to provide 'local colour' that foreshadows later events or simply forms an undercurrent to add (sorry) depth to the story.
I like to think I operate in a similar way. I'll kill characters off if they need to go, but I hope they're never gratuitous. That goes double with kids (something which takes a lot of courage, or at least confidence and faith in your own ability to write well enough to overcome the taboo).
On another level, though, is it even possible to be mean to someone who isn't real? Or is the accusation simply a deflected way of saying "Stephen King was mean to me, the reader, when..."?
 

jchanic

Well-Known Member
Jul 11, 2006
3,164
6,097
74
Cleveland Ohio
Reminds me of all the complaints that centered around the ending to The Mist movie. Not EVERYTHING can end with wine and roses. Except my day today. Minus the roses.
My biggest objection to the ending of The Mist movie was that it avoided the uncertainty of the ending of the novella. I liked it that we never actually found out what happened to them. It let our imaginations run free. The movie's ending changed that.

John
 

mjs9153

Peripherally known member..
Nov 21, 2014
3,389
21,273
exactly John,and that is one reason people didn't like the ending of the book..I preferred to think they got lucky,but man,frank darabont took it into another kind of ending..of course,considering the size of the one critter,who knows? One of my favorite sk novellas,and I also like the movie,especially as you note all the walking dead cast members in it..
 

SpazzTheBassPlayer

Well-Known Member
Dec 16, 2014
294
1,151
54
My biggest objection to the ending of The Mist movie was that it avoided the uncertainty of the ending of the novella. I liked it that we never actually found out what happened to them. It let our imaginations run free. The movie's ending changed that.

John
Even the greatest baseball power-hitter cant knock them all out of the park.............
 
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