When I was 18 I foolishly threw away my enormous collection of every Stephen King novel ever published to that date. I had read these novels with a voracious passion that I thought had to die before I entered college. I must have imagined that to be a serious student of English literature I needed to divorce myself from best-selling horror.
Only today, about 13 years after the Salvation Army received a heavy barrel-full of my collection, I have picked up a King novel once again.
Reading King is pleasurable because it courses by almost through sheer verbs alone. In other words, the story is really about what characters do and not necessarily how they do it, who they are, or why they do it. Readers of King must believe that actions speak louder than words.
Cell was probably not the best novel with which to renew my vows with King. It is dedicated to Romero and it reads like a pop-culture zombie apocalypse film. Come to think of it, all of King’s works read this way, don’t they?
That is partially what I love about them (again). Even in the shortest of short stories, survival of man is at stake (literally. There are really never any female heroines that make it to last scene in a King tale). Every action is apocalyptic.
But the good are always good.
As a reader, I can clearly mark out the good from the bad, even when King tries to trick me in novels like The Stand. If a character has goodness (even an ounce of it), he is good.
I appreciate the simplicity in this portrayal of humankind — mostly because I find myself feeling this way about people. Like my dad, I have a hard time viewing any one person as “bad.” King is like my dad.
My return to King may indeed be a return to the Father.