I've always enjoyed the early Stephen King novels and for some reason I'd never gotten around to "'salem's Lot." I picked up a copy in a local thrift shop, a first edition paperback with a chipped cover and an inscription from Austin, Tex. Makes me wonder how a book can travel across three decades and 1,500 miles to my fingers. It had sat there on the rack by the thrift-shop counter for a couple of months, and I didn't buy it because I have so many other books I don't have time to read. Now it's mine and I am carrying it everywhere, sticking it in my back pocket--the guy is that good.

He breaks plenty of "conventional rules," like dumping in backstory and shifting POV in the same scene. The edition has some typos and apparently King hadn't yet mastered the hyphen in compound modifiers. Once he used "indolently" and redolent" in the same sentence, which any writing instructor would have red flagged. And there I was trying to nit pick one of the greatest storytellers to ever sit at a keyboard. He has such an elegant simplicity about his work that compels you to keep reading, yet he's also poetic and deeply insightful. Stephen King reminds me of why I wanted to be a writer in the first place--to engage people and deliver my version of truth and what it means. Plus the guy knows how to nail off a scene.

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