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Old 06-22-17, 09:24 AM   #26
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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Originally Posted by lwhy? View Post
Can anyone recommend a few good King books that aren't scary? I have read Joyland, 11/26/63, and Under The Dome. I wouldn't consider those very scary. I was going to try to read IT for the first time this summer, but I had a pretty traumatic incident happen to me last week and don't know if that would be the best reading material for me right now.
His fantasy novels (Eye of the Dragon, Dark Tower series, the Straub collaborations Talisman and Black House) seem like they would fit into what you're looking for. They all have some horror elements, but nothing too heavy (and from the examples you gave, that seems like it would be ok). Id recommend all of them, though the Dark Tower series is rather uneven (especially with the post accident books). But I'm still glad I read them.

The Green Mile is another of his "gentler" books. The collection Different Seasons has what is considered his best non-horror stories (the basis of the movies Stand by Me and Shawshank Redemption).
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Old 07-05-17, 08:10 PM   #27
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

I can second Eyes of the Dragon, Green Mile and Different Seasons.

I'll add the Bill Hodges Trilogy(Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch) even though I haven't gotten to End of Watch yet. The first two books are phenomenal.
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Old 07-05-17, 11:57 PM   #28
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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I'll add the Bill Hodges Trilogy(Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch) even though I haven't gotten to End of Watch yet. The first two books are phenomenal.
I recently read all three. They were all very good, though I wouldn't recommend them for someone looking for something light and non-scary. The kind of terrorism featured in Mr. Mercedes is all too real in today's world. End of Watch was originally titled The Suicide Prince, to give you an idea of where the subject matter goes. In addition:
Spoiler:
End of Watch, contrary to the first two books in the series, is a full-on supernatural horror story.
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Old 07-06-17, 09:11 PM   #29
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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Originally Posted by lwhy? View Post
Can anyone recommend a few good King books that aren't scary? I have read Joyland, 11/26/63, and Under The Dome. I wouldn't consider those very scary. I was going to try to read IT for the first time this summer, but I had a pretty traumatic incident happen to me last week and don't know if that would be the best reading material for me right now.
Based on the little bit I've read of your thread in Otter (I need to catch up) I would actually tell you not to read the Dark Tower at the moment ...
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Old 07-06-17, 09:36 PM   #30
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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Originally Posted by Abob Teff View Post
Based on the little bit I've read of your thread in Otter (I need to catch up) I would actually tell you not to read the Dark Tower at the moment ...
I should probably just hold off on reading any King for awhile then....
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Old 07-07-17, 09:17 AM   #31
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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Originally Posted by brainee View Post
I recently read all three. They were all very good, though I wouldn't recommend them for someone looking for something light and non-scary. The kind of terrorism featured in Mr. Mercedes is all too real in today's world.
True, but I wouldn't say they are scary. Not much different than a Patterson crime mystery. There are only two real "events" in Mr. Mercedes. The setup and something about mid-way through the book. The climax is pretty tame. If one can get through the opening setup in the first 10 pages or so, then the rest of the novel shouldn't be an issue.

Finders Keepers was even better, IMO, and like Mr. M, once you get past the opening setup, it's smooth sailing except for one more "event" later on.
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Old 07-09-17, 04:43 AM   #32
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

I'm a big Stephen King fan based on his short story collections, but I've always been hesitant to start one of his novels.

I tried some years back with Lisey's Story. It was in the sale bin at Borders for like $5. I couldn't get through it. The made up words really grated on my nerves, and I felt like I was reading how the author sees himself. The story itself felt made up as I was reading, and I wasn't able to suspend my disbelief.

I first read "Morality" a novella of King's in Esquire. I was pretty excited that they had some fiction in there, AND it was by Stephen King! Didn't like it. I was looking forward to some horror and it wasn't.

His best stuff in my opinion was Nightshift, Skeleton Crew, Nightmares and Dreamscapes. Everything's Eventual wasn't so great until I read "The Man in the Black Suit" and "1408."
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Old 07-09-17, 01:37 PM   #33
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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I'm a big Stephen King fan based on his short story collections, but I've always been hesitant to start one of his novels.

I tried some years back with Lisey's Story. It was in the sale bin at Borders for like $5. I couldn't get through it. The made up words really grated on my nerves, and I felt like I was reading how the author sees himself. The story itself felt made up as I was reading, and I wasn't able to suspend my disbelief.
I don't think Lisey's Story is the novel to judge King by. Even in the more generous reviews by King fans, it ranks low compared to his other novels.

If you like his older short story collections, I would think one of his classics from the 70s and 80s would be a better introduction to his novels. Something lean and mean like Pet Sematary or Salems Lot.
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Old 07-19-17, 10:20 PM   #34
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

Summer Reading Roundup: Batch 2

Finders Keepers Bill Hodges is back...sorta, in the middle chapter of the trilogy. This is easily the best of the three. Fantastic story about a murdered author who walked away from publishing his work only to squirrel away everything from that point forward, making said works a highly sought after treasure. Hodges had little to do in this one and didn't even show up until nearly halfway into the book, but the story is so riviting it didn't really matter. It kinda brushes on/reminds me of a cross between Misery & A Simple Plan with a retired detective trying to piece everything together. The topic begs the question, is King squirrelling away any works intentionally for post-humous release? A+

From a Buick 8 This is a tough one. The story is interesting, as are the characters but there seems to be a missing climax or satisfying conclusion. I will say the 'hook' of the novel (keeping it spoiler free) has been done better in other King novels. The story just never seems to go anywhere. Had it been trimmed into a tighter novella it could have been something. Even making it longer to flesh out the "hook" and/or the "outcome" to give the reader something meatier than what we got would have been welcome. As it stands, it exists in some nether-region between the two, which is oddly appropriate. B-

Duma Key This one is heartbreaking, not the story but the book as a whole. The first 400 pages are phenomenal. King brings an amazing cast of characters in Edgar, Wireman, Elizabeth & Jack that you care about. Even secondary characters like Pam and Ilse are finely crafted. King also steps out of his comfort zone to bring us a story about an artist (instead of yet another author) much to my delight. He also manages to create a locale that is a character the likes of which we haven't seen since Derry and Castle Rock. The story is wonderful and pretty straight forward about a character who leaves and old life in construction to reinvent himself as an artist. The story just hints at the supernatural which is a good balance and works. Then around page 401 things start to change. The story takes a left turn and I was willing to roll with it, then after another 100 pages or so the story just goes off the deep end. Maybe if it was handled better it would have worked but the characters were in the dark as much as the reader, then all of a sudden the protagonist just magically knows everything and we get pages and pages of exposition to explain to the reader what the hell is going on. He also off's a character that I felt was unnecessary. It seemed like a "just because" death. I've never been one of those that thinks King sucks at endings (except for Under the Dome, that has to be the worst), but this is stunningly bad. By the last 50 pages I was just skimming it just to finish the damn thing. B+ (A solid A for the first 400 pages, and a D for the rest)

End of Watch Oh, Bill, Holly and Jerome, it's been a helluva ride. A quick one too. Three of the easiest reads of King's work. This is probably the weakest of the trilogy, but it's still a damn good book. Unlike Duma Key, which I read prior, it has a very satisfying ending to not just EoW, but the whole trilogy. I gotta ding this one though because of King's reliance on the supernatural in a series that didn't need it. The first two books were fantastic, straight forward crime novels that didn't rely on any of King's tropes and crutches. So to toss away those sucesses to jump back into familiar territory and tropes to advance the story(and to bring back Brady) was disappointing. That being said, the sci-fi/supernatural stuff kinda lightens up (detracts?) from a seriously dark and twisted subject matter that is right out of the headlines. Had the supernatural stuff not been in there and just stuck with the hypnosis and suicide plot, it would have been a really dark crime novel, but sci-fi stuff just reminds you at every turn that this is a fluff piece of fiction instead of pulling you into the story. It doesn't necessarily make it bad, but it makes it different than the two books that came before. A-

The final 4 novels:
Tommyknockers
Talisman
Black House
Danse Macabre


I already started Tommyknockers, so I'll probably tackle them in that order.

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Micheal - wonderful roundup.
Thanks!
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Old 07-21-17, 12:42 AM   #35
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

Good luck with Tommyknockers. That was the only King book I almost couldn't finish. His drug use was pretty out of control at that point, and the book suffers from it.
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Old 08-07-17, 03:20 PM   #36
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

Yeah, Tommyknockers is a rough go, I could barely get through it. Talisman is fantastic, I remember first reading it when I was around 16, on a road trip with my parents, it was magical! Black House is a worthy sequel (after a bit of a rough start). Danse Macabre is a good (non-fiction) read if you are interested in the horror genre in general.
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Old 08-18-17, 04:16 AM   #37
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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I just finished the Green mile. I think Pet Cemetery is next up on my list.

All the books you have mentioned Michael have ranged from decent to really good. I think he's been on a hot streak with his last few books.

Has any one else finished the whole Mr Mercedes trilogy yet? I enjoyed all of them though the first was the strongest. Wish he would do more of these detective mysteries.

Also for anyone interested. There is a podcast The Losers Club which is all things king. They go through a book at a time and dive into it. The podcasts are a little long and overly talky at times, but if you love King as much as I do, its worth a listen.
Caught that podcast as well... has some decent content...
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Old 08-20-17, 08:20 PM   #38
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

The Tommyknockers: Just finished reading Tommyknockers, or should I say 'slogging' through it. Took far longer than usual. I went in optimistic (despite everyone's insistance that it was bad) but what a mess of a novel.

The concept is solid which is wrapped up in a 50's era sci-fi pulp motif but the problem is the horrendous execution. There is even a plot element that The Matrix seems to have ripped off completely. So it's not all bad. However, concepts don't get the page turning with no clear protagonist, hopping from character to character, or characters and plots that go nowhere. The novel opens with a different protagonist than it ends with. That's not a good recipe for success, IMO.

The lone bright spot is a little boy we meet about halfway through who does something unintentional with his little brother. It's heartbreaking and it's touching resolution is closes the novel in the final few pages. That side story is unfortunately only about 20 pp total out of the 650 beast of a novel. It really could be it's own fleshed out story.

In the ultimate nitpicking category, there is an above average number of typos. Also, King had some really bizarre naming conventions. Two characters named David and one named Dave. Then there's a Bobbi and a Bobby. Who the fuck does that? I'm going to assume the drugs are to blame for that one.

I agree with everyone else. I know it's an older book, but it's only for the King completionists.
D+

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I just finished the Green mile. I think Pet Cemetery is next up on my list.

All the books you have mentioned Michael have ranged from decent to really good. I think he's been on a hot streak with his last few books.
The Green Mile is one I wish I could read fresh all over again in the same way it was originally published(serial format).

I also agree about his output. His late 90s and post accident stuff really took a dive but his stuff from the last 10 years has been amazing.
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Old 08-28-17, 04:57 PM   #39
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

Time for a break between novels to bang out some unique/oddities:
  • Guns - A non-fiction essay looking at gun violence in America and our obsession with guns. Early in the essay he lays out which school shooters were found to have a copy of Rage in their possession and why he felt the need to remove it from publication. It's definitely an interesting little (30pp) read... unless you're a card carrying NRA member, then you may not enjoy it as much.

  • An Evening at God's - Short but funny. King calls it "A one minute play" on the opening page. I mean this post will probably have more words than this 4 page play/story. It's unpublished, so Google will have to be your guide to this one. Seems silly to rate 4 pages, but: A (I laughed).

  • In the tall Grass - an e-book co-authored with Joe Hill. This short story is good, but the ending was fairly run-of-the-mill and predictable. It felt like a Night Shift era story and would fit right at home in that collection. B+

  • Throttle - another e-book co-authored with Joe Hill. This was is damn fun. I highly recommend this one. Motorcycle gang vs semi = bloodbath. This too felt like old school King. If anything, these two stories tell me that King needs to partner with his son more often. A+

    The Dark Man - I'm not a fan of poems, but this one is decent since it stars everyone's favorite man in black in one of King's earliest works(published in '69). It's brief though at 3 pages, but I enjoyed what there was. A

  • Memory - the original short story that Duma Key was based on. Even for a completionist, this was a complete waste of time. It's about 40 pages and basically identical to the intro to Duma Key. No different characters, names, motives...nothing. I thought I'd kinda see something different to see how the story evolved or seomthing but nope, it's the beginning of Duma Key right up to the part with Gandalf the dog. Total skip, if anyone is curious. Not worth rating.
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Old 08-29-17, 12:31 PM   #40
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

I was on a huge kick of reading Stephen King books as a teenager and a young adult. But then in the mid-90s he lost me as his books, IMO, took a dip in quality and became overly bloated. Just for fun, I've decided to rank the ones I've read:

EXCELLENT:
  • Pet Sematary (I literally threw this book across the room when I read the last page. It's terrifying and totally underrated.)
  • It
  • The Shining (who knew hedge animals could be terrifying?)
  • The Stand (original version; I've never read the updated version)
  • Skeleton Crew (King's best short story collection. It's like a "greatest hits" record where nearly every track is a home run. "Survivor Type" cost me a sleepless night.)
  • Misery (I love that the novel-within-a-novel is just as good as the main story)
  • On Writing
  • The Bachman Books (I rank this one highly based totally on the strength of "The Long Walk")
  • The Eyes of the Dragon (really underrated)
  • Gerald's Game (I'm going against popular opinion. I loved this book and found it tense and riveting)

GOOD:
  • Different Seasons (I loved all four stories)
  • The Dead Zone
  • Firestarter
  • Carrie
  • Salem's Lot
  • Cujo
  • Night Shift (The Mangler, The Boogeyman, Gray Matter, and The Ledge all really stuck with me)
  • Danse Macabre (I remember thoroughly enjoying this one, but I'm sure it has to be really dated at this point)
  • Roadwork

FAIR:
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
  • Dolores Claiborne
  • Christine
  • Needful Things
  • Cell (not great, but not as horrible as many reviews made it sound)
  • Rose Madder (I loved this book for as long as it was set in the real world; once it suddenly turned supernatural, I was totally turned off)

FORGETTABLE (I know I read these, but remember little about them)
  • The Dark Half
  • Four Past Midnight
  • Nightmares & Dreamscapes
  • Everything's Eventual
  • Full Dark No Stars
  • Finders Keepers

BAD:
  • The Tommyknockers (I barely finished this one, and it was the first book to make me realize that not everything King wrote was necessarily going to be good)
  • Insomnia (finishing this was a chore)
  • Duma Key (someone get this man an editor)
  • Desperation (couldn't finish it)

Last edited by Mr. Flix; 08-29-17 at 02:33 PM.
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Old 08-29-17, 01:26 PM   #41
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

I started Talisman yesterday
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Old 08-29-17, 10:25 PM   #42
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

Good list Mr. Flix. Odd you thought Finders Keepers as "Fair." Did you not read Mr. Mercedes first? Also, I felt Full Dark, No Stars was one of his strongest collections in years.

Skelton Crew was the first King book I ever read and agree with your Greatest Hits analogy.

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I started Talisman yesterday
Same, although I'm kinda running outta steam. I'm not sure how far I'm gonna make it. Tommyknockers kinda took the wind out of the sails.
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Old 08-30-17, 12:05 PM   #43
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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Same, although I'm kinda running outta steam. I'm not sure how far I'm gonna make it. Tommyknockers kinda took the wind out of the sails.
i'm about 10% in (reading on a kindle) and its picking up some. early part was pretty rough.
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Old 09-01-17, 11:08 PM   #44
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

My favorite King novel of all time is 'Salem's Lot. I tend to like his early stuff, and I bailed in the late 80s when he veered into the more fantasy over horror stuff. Lately I've been listening to podcasts and audiobooks a lot at work and I just listened to "Rose Madder," which I'd never read. It was meh. I'll always at least borrow his new book from the library, but I don't seem to enjoy them as much as I did back in the day, and I've been reading King since "Carrie."
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Old 09-03-17, 01:22 PM   #45
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

Mr Flix, of the ones I've read, which is most on your list, I agree with how you have them listed. The Eyes of the Dragon is one of my favorites. I should really reread it, since it's been 20 years, and I seem to recall it being a pretty short novel.
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Old 09-04-17, 04:46 PM   #46
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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Originally Posted by Mr. Flix View Post
I was on a huge kick of reading Stephen King books as a teenager and a young adult. But then in the mid-90s he lost me as his books, IMO, took a dip in quality and became overly bloated.
I agree with your general arc of King's career. Everything up until 1987's Misery was his "classic" period. Tommyknockers (also in 1987) was the beginning of a really erratic phase, and like you I stopped staying on top of new King books by the mid 90s. Green Mile and his collections were good, but for me everything else ranged from ok to outright bad (some books, like Dreamcatcher, are embarrassingly bad).

But I think with the two huge novels Under the Dome and 11/22/63, King has had a late career comeback. I've consistently liked everything he's done recently.
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Old 09-04-17, 09:05 PM   #47
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

It is kind of odd that King can't seem to get a sci-fi book 'right.' Both Tommyknockers and Dreamcather are terrible.

I'd put Under the Dome and 11/22/63 up there with the best of his classic stuff. Looking at the release list, brainee is right. He hasn't had a bad novel since those two kicked off this run in 2009(in release order):

Under the Dome
11/22/63
Dark Tower: Wind Through the Keyhole
Dr. Sleep
Joyland
Mr. Mercedes
Revival
Finders Keepers
End of Watch

I wasn't big on Wind Through the Keyhole, but you can't go wrong with the rest of these. The 90's and early 00's weren't a good time outside of a few (Green Mile, Bag of Bones, Needful Things and the Dark Tower).

With a run like that, it makes me nervous for Sleeping Beauties. He's bound to have another dud at some point.
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Old 09-04-17, 09:23 PM   #48
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

I absolutely adore the audio book version of From a Buick 8. Each narrator gets a new actor, including Bruce Davidson (Senator Kelly from X-Men) as Sgt. Sandy Dearborn. I think he could carry a film adaptation if they get moving before he gets too old. I always preferred King's short stories so when I picked this up in the remainder bin on a whim, I was pleasantly surprised.
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Old 09-06-17, 02:46 PM   #49
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

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Good list Mr. Flix. Odd you thought Finders Keepers as "Fair." Did you not read Mr. Mercedes first?
Oops, my mistake. Finders Keepers shouldn't have been on the list. I haven't read it (or any in that trilogy for that matter).

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I agree with your general arc of King's career. Everything up until 1987's Misery was his "classic" period. Tommyknockers (also in 1987) was the beginning of a really erratic phase, and like you I stopped staying on top of new King books by the mid 90s. Green Mile and his collections were good, but for me everything else ranged from ok to outright bad (some books, like Dreamcatcher, are embarrassingly bad).

But I think with the two huge novels Under the Dome and 11/22/63, King has had a late career comeback. I've consistently liked everything he's done recently.
I've often toyed with the idea of going back and re-reading (or reading for the first time) all of King's works consecutively. But I'll admit I'm not a fast reader, so the commitment would likely take me two or three years. And I worry about running out of steam along the way.

Then I think about picking up just the books of his I've never read, which I think is about half of them, most of them from the mid-90s to today. I dunno. I'm curious which of his unread novels would be considered the best. Edit: According to the rankings on Goodreads, I should check out the Gunslinger, 11/22/63, and The Green Mile.
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Old 09-06-17, 11:32 PM   #50
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Re: The Stephen King Catch-All Potpourri Thread

11/22/63 is epic and up there with the Stand and It for me. Truly a modern classic that fits alongside his greats.

The Green Mile is brilliant, but if you've seen the movie you won't be gaining much. Darabont made a helluva adaptation.

The Gunslinger is...unique. It's a launching pad more than a novel that will blow you away. The Dark Tower is my favorite series but appreciation for the Gunslinger comes after reading more of the series.

If you're looking to just getting back into reading mode, I'd start with The Green Mile. It's short and a pretty easy read. I'd follow it with 11/22/63. It's a beast, but it's also a helluva ride. Then I'd hit the Gunslinger as it's a rough read although the revised version fixes a lot of that.

It should be noted that none of these are in the horror genre. You have sci-fi/time travel, a prison drama and western/fantasy.
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