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For years I thought Stephen King was a schlock writer. I couldn't imagine actually reading anything he wrote. When, because someone recommended it, I read IT, I decided maybe he isn't a bad writer after all. I wouldn't call him "great" but he can write.

For years I saw Dean Koontz's name on mass-market paperbacks in the markets and I thought he had to be a second-rate Stephen King, and I imagined that he wrote horror stories and I was far from interested. Recently, though, I have gotten two Dean Koontz books from Mary's friend Jim, and of course I read them, and it is with some shock that I confess that I liked them. Quite a lot. And they weren't horror stories.

I consider both to be writers of airplane fiction, although when I think of King's short stories I think there may be a few stories that transcend that level, that actually have bigger things to say. If I were to choose between the two, though, I'd go with Koontz. I actually like the characters he creates and I like the way they painstakingly find a way around unbelievable challenges, and I like that these stories are not predictable except in one respect: we know the good guys will win, somehow.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC)
Have you ever read anything by Stephen King's wife, Tabitha? I ready Pearl once a while back and really enjoyed it but actually forgot about it until I read this entry. I need to go see if she has anything in my audio library.

Which two Dean Koontz, please?
Jul. 18th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
No, I haven't read anything by her. I'll keep a lookout.

The two Koontzes:

Life Expectancy
The Husband

If you've read these, are they typical in any way?
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:14 am (UTC)
I thought the same thing about Koontz that you did so I never even cracked one of his covers! I'm glad to have a new (and so prolific) author and a starting place. Thanks!
Jul. 18th, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC)
Stephen King's short stories (and novellas) are usually "better" than his novels. With the novels he tends to let it all hang out and take FAR too long to get the to the damn point.

I think of Stephen King's writing as "gateway reading". That's what it was for me. I started his stuff in the eighth grade. At that age, it was scarey fun and helped me cut teeth on long books. But once you've read a few of his novels, you've pretty much read them all. He's a firm believer in self insertion and recycling. It gets worse the older he gets, too.

"It" was a good one to start with. But I think my all time favorite is novel he wrote with Peter Straub, "The Talisman".
Jul. 18th, 2007 02:16 pm (UTC)
I can see STephen King as one to start with, yes. I was reading Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, along with the Three Musketeers and the Iron Mask when I was getting into the longer books. I also read tons of Agatha Christie and other British mysteries.

I don't think I would actually go out to buy a Stephen King novel. I think of him as a "storyteller" and even though I like telling sims stories I am not that fond of storytellers. They don't go anywhere "real" to me. I also couldn't connect much with King's characters.

I went back to my bookcrossing post on Koontz's Life Expectancy and found that I hadn't liked it as much as The Husband - I called it "a not-so-funny story about a baker pursued by clowns". I recall that I thought he was trying too hard. So I suspect I would not love everything he has written either.
Jul. 18th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)
Good point. King is more a storyteller. And storytelling has its place, but if you want MORE, storytelling isn't going to give it to you.

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Judith Lautner
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