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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