Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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Matt Cheney

King is, in many ways, a symbol for people who want to cling to one side or another of the popular art/real art (false) dichotomy, and that's one of the reasons I wrote about him, as well as that the post that inspired mine, by Matt Peckham, made me re-evaluate some of my own opinions about King. I don't think I've ever actually read an interview with the man himself, and was saddened to see the remarks you reported, because someone of his celebrity and wealth could really be doing good things for the literary world rather than being seemingly bitter that he hasn't won a Nobel.

Barely related: you might be interested in the discussion going on at the following:



In defense of King, I'll simply say that the ability to lock readers into a gripping plot IS a skill, one that I would kill to have -- particularly when the story is executed with respect for the readers. I would contend that King's strength involves tapping into everyday American fears (the onset of menstruation, the vampire kids on the school bus, what's left of civilization when 99% of humanity is dead). Granted, King's "scions of good against ultimate evil" template is wearing thin, particularly in light of more "literary" efforts like "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon." And I've felt that the two recent Dark Tower installments have revealed King's major weakness: the inability to keep track and maintain a coherent epic. (King himself had to listen to his words again through books on tape. What does THAT say?)

But better King than Tom Clancy or John Grisham or Clive Cussler or James Patterson. Better King than the potboiler authors who assume that their audience is dumb. Better King of "The Stand" than the Norman Mailer of "Harlot's Ghost." Don't forget too that it was King who experimented with micropayments with "The Plant."


"his choice of John Updike as the primary culprit in the literary crime of intellectual game-playing"

That shows a decided lack of knowledge in the intellectual game-playing arena of fiction.

Matt Peckham

Really appreciated your thoughts on this Dan, and I'm going to have to find a way to view that interview, though I am currently "service-less."

Here's my response to your response to Matt's response to my response to King's Dark Tower series. :-)

Leonard Bast


I thought your comments on King--particularly regarding his snideness about Updike--were spot on. I've just discovered this blog and am quite impressed--I am linking to you. Keep up the good work.

What makes King readable for me (though I admit, it's been over a decade since I've read any of his novels) is not just his ability to focus on what Ed calls "very American fears," but his characterization, which strikes me, when it's at its best, as almost Dickensian. King's most compelling characters are caricatures, simultaneously believable and unbelievable. It's a pity that his disregard for form and his Manichean sensibilities prevent him from being a better writer.

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