The review is here, and generally positive--although the reviewer does point out a couple of King's sentence-level clunkers, and makes a reasonable argument: considering the sheer mass of the guy's output, you'd think he'd be a better stylist. Here's the quote:

As for the prose, it’s not all smooth sailing. Given King’s extraordinary career-long dominance, we might expect him at this point to be stylistically complete, turning perfect sentences, as breezily at home in his idiom as P. G. Wodehouse. But he isn’t, quite. “Then it came down on her again, like unpleasant presents raining from a poison piñata: the realization that Howie was dead.” (It’s the accidental rhyme of “unpleasant” and “presents” that makes that one such a stinker.) I felt the clutch of sorrow, too, when I read this: “What you’re planning is terribly dangerous — I doubt if you need me to tell you that — but there may be no other way to save an innocent man’s life.”

The reviewer is forgiving, though--pointing out that "King has always produced at pulp speed," and that "writing flat-out keeps him close to his story, close to his source. It seems to magnetize his imagination..." Still, you'd think that a guy who has publicly expressed his frustration with the "snobbery" of the literary world would take the time to prove them wrong: it's not that hard to clean up the prose before going to press.

On edit: it's worth noting that Wodehouse published 72 novels (three posthumously), 19 short story collections, three autobiographical books, and several plays and libretti. So, no slouch himself on the output front.

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Well, Jon, from where a lot of the world sits outside of your borders, that kind of looks like the America of King's time. A division between "good and evil" and a lot of people talking about how much better life was back when it was "normal."

I'm sure it's a lot more complicated and subtle inside America, but that seems to be the nerve that King hits. The divisions between the characters in his books read an awful lot like a microcosm of what we see as the divisions in America right now.

The other thing about King's characters is that yes, they are ofte, "... normally intelligent human beings and their dialogue says 'cheeseball,'" but we mayno have, "... trouble in River City" we may simply have River City.

Most of the characters in King's novels haven't got much education past high school - if they even made it that far. Very few writers these days have many characters wih less than a college education (well, the writer have all gone to college and so have the vast majority of their customers, so it makes sense).

At the sentence level, King's prose reflects that of many of his readers, which makes it right for them. To a lot of people it doesn't sound cheeseball, it sounds like what they hear everyday. But they never set foot on campus. I don't think King actively goes after the anti-intellectual audience (though from a marketing standpoint that might be a good idea) I think it's more an a-intellectual approach (okay, so that's not a word, but you know I mean it like apolitical).
1.You can always find a timely parallel for melodrama--there's always a struggle going on, in somebody's mind, anyway, between the forces of good and evil. There are timely parallels for all of the other literary forms, too.

2.I know lots of extremely smart people who haven't been to college--and they never express themselves in bad, cheeseball dialogue. In fact, people almost never say stuff like, “What you’re planning is terribly dangerous — I doubt if you need me to tell you that — but there may be no other way to save an innocent man’s life.” What that kind of dialogue reflects is not the cheeseball nature of humanity (although that exists, obviously) as much as the cheeseball nature of the guy that wrote it.

3.Are you saying that King intentionally writes crappy prose because he's making a commercial decision to reach the largest possible number of readers by doing so (a la Lee Child)? If that's the case he's a mercenary hack by definition, and he's got no business resenting the general disdain with which the literary world has mostly regarded him. Even Dickens didn't go out of his way to write crappy prose. I don't actually think that's true about King, though (he says it isn't, and I'll take that at face value). I think he writes really, really fast, and when that happens things get sloppy. I also think he's not instinctively or by training a particularly gifted prose writer, so the impulse isn't always toward the strong sentence vs. the crappy one. I also think his editors are smart enough not to mess with him much, and are mostly interested in getting the next book into print, and the next one, and so on.
My jaw drops at this: "not instinctively or by training a particularly gifted prose writer."

Simply untrue.
I should also add a historical note, which is that the U.S. has been struggling with its impulses toward fascism since before fascism had a name. Those who like their capitalism rapacious and unregulated and enforced at home and abroad through military power have always had considerable influence in this country; the miracle is that the populists have ever managed to rise up to (partially) contain them.
It's not a whole lot more complicated from within US borders. Americans have a weakness for not seeing--or wanting to see--different aspects of a person's character. Good people should be good all the time, or we're disappointed. Bad people are bad, period.

It's part of our simplistic (and intellectually lazy) way of viewing issues. All problems must have simple solutions, and the Law of Unintended Consequences must NEVER be considered. We don't like to deal in incremental improvements. Problems must be fixed in a single stroke, and the resolution can't cost any money.

As HL Mencken once said, there is a simple solution for every complex problem. And that solution is wrong.
I know it's weird to jump in here nine months after this thread was impregnated, but here's a thought:

One of the most perverse things about the star system in the book-publishing industry is the idea that the more successful an author gets, the more he or she is entitled to less stringent editing so that the author's "voice" is untrampled upon or something.

In Stephen King's case, this has been taken to an unparalleled extreme in which he is allowed to routinely turn in "War And Peace"-length tomes and apparently his publishers can't or won't do anything more to them than run spellcheck. I love King, and believe him to be America's greatest living storyteller, but quite a few of his books — particularly when he started running slowly out of steam in the mid-90s — could have been a lot better had an editor been allowed to speak up and say, "Um ... uh ... you know ... Steve — can I call you Steve? — this section might, um, you know, work better if ... you know ... these forty pages of backstory about this secondary were cut to, oh, maybe ... ummm ... twelve? Please don't hit me."

I dunno. If I ever become fortunate enough to be a bestselling author, I kind of hope I earn the right to the toughest editing help available. Maybe it's because I speak out of 23 years' experience as a newspaper copy editor, but I have yet to meet or read the writer who wouldn't benefit from a polish from a fresh perspective. Not even someone as apocalyptically talented as Stephen King.
Sounds like the plot line of most books these days. Actually, my aversion has more to do with the fact that I like plots believable. Let's face, enough tragedy and horror exist to write scenarios that don't cross the line into the weird and supernatural.
I actually like the imaginative element of King's work, when it actually is imaginative and not just some kind of nihilistic adolescent fantasy that's redeemed in the end by the cosmic forces of Good.
And then the writer goes crazy!
I think King is really good at creating atmosphere. I think he's so good at it, in fact, that readers (and, apparently, reviewers) often forgive him his clunkers. Sometimes, the clunkers even work, for the atmosphere. As an atmosphere-challenged writer, I gnash my teeth in his general direction.

Then it came down on her again, like unpleasant presents raining from a poison piñata: the realization that Howie was dead.

The reviewer obviously isn't in tune with King's sense of humor. "...unpleasant presents raining from a poison pinata." Come on. That's funny as hell.

He can afford to give The Literati the finger every now and then.
It would be funny if it was parody. Or intentional self-parody; that's probably the most generous possible reading. As for giving the literati the finger--King's been doing that since Carrie, big time--but he still seems surprised that the feeling is mutual.


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