Being an intellectual snob means I’ve missed out on a lot of good stuff in life. Tailgate parties, for example. Keg parties. Mary Kay parties. Lots of parties. I also missed out on “Melrose Place,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Felicity,” the first four seasons of “Friends” and, well, every single thing you've ever written. I thought I was too smart to go to those parties, watch those shows or read your books. For that last thing, I am truly sorry.
(I’m not at all sorry for missing those parties or “Dawson’s Creek,” though. The size of James Vanderbeek’s jaw makes me uncomfortable, like I’m watching chin porn. Also, you meet weird people at parties. I know because I’ve seen those “Real World” documentaries and episodes of “Quarterlife.”)
Until recently, I didn’t realize what I was missing by foregoing your work. I thought, “What does it matter? I’ve seen ‘Carrie.’ I’ve seen ‘The Shining’ and ‘Cujo’ and ‘The Stand.’” I figured I was well-versed in the King, uh, 'verse...or at least well-versed enough to fake it. I’m lazy that way.
But then you started writing for “Entertainment Weekly,” a magazine for which I have an indecent amount of love. Each Monday, the mailman finds me with my nose pressed to our glass door, a slight sheen of anticipation glistening on my lips – like if Cujo had been a supermodel. To complete the analogy, if I had a tail, I would wag it. That’s how much I love EW.
At first, I dismissed your column, thinking it’s probably just about zombies and axe-wielding hoteliers. And then I remembered I was a nerd and thought, “Hey! His column’s probably about zombies and axe-wielding hoteliers!” But it wasn’t. It was something even better. It was the work of a pop culture fan who loves music and movies and books just as much as I do and who writes about each of those subjects with a passion and gentle humor that is inspiring and, yes, addictive.
My husband, a King fan for years, saw his opening and recently handed me a copy of your novella, “The Long Walk.” It was riveting. I found myself in the kitchen washing the dishes with one hand, turning pages with the other and sometimes getting completely confused, requiring the judicious use of a hair dryer and Febreezing the not always pleasant odor of wet paper. While reading “The Long Walk,” the part of me that likes to feel smart and show off told my husband, “King must have been inspired by the Bataan death march.” He nodded, which I mentally translated as “yes, dear, I know you think you're smart, just be quiet.” And then I turned back to my reading because beyond historical allusions, "The Long Walk" is just a damn good story.
So now, I will no longer fight it. I will read your books. From this day forward, I’m giving up literary snobbery. Sure, I’ll still buy more trade paperbacks than mass markets. And may God strike me down if I ever willingly read a novelization of “Halo.” But I feel it’s time to open my literary horizons and embrace the idea that liking something a lot of other people like is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it’s NASCAR. Or “Deal or No Deal.” Or thongs on portly folk.
Witness me casting off the oppressive yoke of Harold Bloom and "The Times Literary Supplement" because, let’s face it, I don’t understand half the stuff I read in that publication anyway. It’s just a really good beard for the coffee shop literati. And Harold Bloom? Any man that inflicts a non-CGI “Beowulf” on me deserves not my admiration but my scorn. And maybe a pantsing.
Starting next week, I’m raiding my husband’s stash of King novels and diving in with gusto. I’ll likely be scared completely out of my mind and rendered sleepless and/or twitchy through July, but it’ll be worth it. Because I like you, Stephen. I like the way you think. I like the way you write a story, and I like the way you make the back page of EW, my pop culture crack addiction, shine.
I am, however, asking one small favor. Could you, for the love of all things holy, please stop writing for like ten minutes? I mean seriously, cut it out. Put the pen down. Play a few rounds of spider solitaire. Maybe take up knitting? Because, truly, some of us have some serious catching up to do and you’re not making it any easier.
Keep writing the columns though. I’ll be wanting your opinion on "Ironman."