Down on Stephen King

Posted by Jason Diamond

Why do people who like Stephen King always seem to have to take a defensive stance?  A recent Guardian post made me wonder that.

So I’m somewhat concerned to learn that Stephen King, up there as one of my favourite authors (and bring it on, all you literary snobs who have taken me to task for this in the past – I’m still not ashamed and you are still missing out), is planning to tackle the subject in his forthcoming novel, 11.22.63.

I read a lot of King’s books as a kid and I’m not ashamed to admit that.  While I haven’t picked up anything by him in at least fifteen years, I don’t remember any of it being that especially bad to merit such strong reactions.  Something I’ve always respected about the guy is that even though his net worth is probably the same as a small country, he still keeps a foot planted in the actual world of literature that most mass market types wouldn’t dare go slumming in.  (For example: Stephen King, the McSweeney’s contributor.)

So why are some people so down on King?  Is it because he churns out a book or two a year, and makes a shit ton of money off his writing?  Is it due to sheer overexposure, or do you really just not like his writing?


  1. I can’t answer that question, because I adore him. He sometimes scares the living crap out of me with some of his plot decisions, but that unpredictability is one of the things I love the most about his work. Love a central character? Don’t get used to him. He might not make it to the end. Which means he wasn’t a main character, even if concentrating action around him made you think he was. Brilliant.

  2. Esther: that was something I always loved about him. He had no loyalty to any of the characters. I really don’t know anybody else who does that.

  3. Haters gonna hate. King seems to be the universal reference for crappy commercial fiction, but I think we all know he’s a master storyteller.

  4. The only people I’ve ever heard down on Stephen King are one of three types:
    1. Hate to read, or at least enjoy it a lot less than they claim, and therefore can’t get through most of his books. Really prefer 120 page romance novels.

    2. Don’t like anything gruesome, graphic, or scary.

    3. Once, someone told me she didn’t want to read a certain one of his books- I think it was Dreamcatcher- because it wasn’t ‘realistic’. She preferred ones like Thinner. Because Gypsy magic is clearly more likely than alien life.