A Break-Up Letter To Stephen King

by Adam Finley

My Dearest Stephen,

I’d like to begin by saying that I never expected us to have a perfect relationship. The only perfect relationships exist in poorly written third grade poetry and are usually accompanied by some crude drawing of a young boy and girl holding hands while some oblong heart hovers over their heads. We were more than that, Stephen. We were human beings with all the blemishes and inconsistencies that keep us grounded to the terrestrial world.

If you were to glance at my bookshelf, you would see two shelves are occupied entirely by your tomes. Every early novel is represented: “Carrie,” “The Shining,” “The Dead Zone,” “The Stand,” and all the rest. I have them all up to “Rose Madder,” which I still haven’t read, but don’t assume it represents the exact point where I stopped loving you. In fact, don’t assume I’ve stopped loving you at all, Stephen. You can’t spend almost your entire life with one writer – and that’s not an exaggeration because you’ve published roughly three thousand novels, short stories, audio books, screenplays, and ebooks in my lifetime – and suddenly stop loving them. You’re not that easy to give up on.

Perhaps you do feel it’s easy for people to give up on you, and I understand why you would feel that way. All those children who stayed up late awkwardly trying to hold open one of your Signet paperbacks while shining a dim flashlight on the page have all become snobbish literati who have tossed you aside as if you were nothing more than a Michael Crichton bestseller.

But this isn’t about those pretentious bastards, or how much Michael Crichton sucks. It’s about you and me, Stephen, and why I think we should see other people for the time being.

Why the sudden change of heart? Well I guess it was when I found this quote on your Web site, stephenking.com, referring to your decision to rewrite the first novel in your long-running “Dark Tower” series:

“Here’s the scoop on the new material I’ve added to “The Gunslinger.” The idea was to bring “The Gunslinger” in line with the material in the new books as well as the material in the first four. The other thing I wanted to do was to rewrite to some degree for language because I always felt it had a different feel than the other books because I was so young when I wrote it. The material is about an additional 10% (about 35 manuscript pages) with changes on almost every page.”

Stephen, I trudged my way through the 668 pages that made up “The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass,” and what I expected when I finally reached the end was either a small caliber pistol with which to shoot myself, or at least some kind of monetary compensation for the time I wasted trying to swallow the sugary love story between Roland and Susan that made up over ninety percent of the novel. What I did not expect was for you to suddenly decide it necessary to rewrite “The Gunslinger” simply because you were younger when you wrote it. Stephen, we were both younger then; it was a different time. Let Lucas, Spielberg, and Coppola try to improve on perfection. You are better than they are, and I think you know this. Has Francis Ford Coppola ever made a movie about a man stranded on an island who eats himself bit by bit in order to stay alive? I’m not sure, because I never saw “The Godfather III,” but I’m pretty sure he didn’t.

Stephen, the last novel I read was “Black House,” your sequel to “The Talisman.” I really felt the novel worked – as a treatment for a made-for-TV movie. It just made me pine for the days when you actually wrote stories. Sure, I have “Dreamcatcher” and “From A Buick 8” sitting on my shelf, but they’ll never be read. You’ve hurt me too many times, Stephen. Even when people would dismiss you as a hack I would come to your defense, telling them that no one else could do what you do, that no one else had your imagination. If they insisted, I would refer them to one of your short stories (you know I’ve always felt they were your best work). But after reading your latest collection of short stories, “Everything’s Eventual,” I can’t even say that anymore. The stories in that collection are not good in the sense that, if I had to make a list of a million good things, and had to pad out the list by listing things that are only slightly good, it still wouldn’t make the list.

Once again you’ve made the announcement that you’re going to retire, but we both know that’s not true. You can say there’s no logical reason for you to keep publishing, but logic will be nowhere to be found during those long summer nights when you’re lying awake wondering why you didn’t make “Cujo” the rabid Saint Bernard three inches taller. You’ll have the manuscript of “Cujo: The Redux” to your editor before sunrise.

I’m going to use our time apart to read “Ulysses.” I wouldn’t recommend that you read anything. You should probably just avoid printed material altogether and do something more constructive and beneficial with your time, like crushing both your hands with the base of a halogen lamp. I only say these things because I care for you deeply, Stephen.

Your intermittently devoted lover,

A.

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