Author Topic: Interesantan clanak o Stivenu Kingu  (Read 2840 times)

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Interesantan clanak o Stivenu Kingu
« on: 11-06-2007, 00:45:27 »
Iz New York Times-a (nije bas sveze ali ipak...)

November 12, 2006
Scare Tactician

Stephen King has written about zombies, vampires and the end of the world. He has imagined a killer car, a killer dog, a killer clown and killer cellphones. But when he really wants to put a scare into you, he brings on his most fearsome monster of all, that quivering mass of ego and insecurity known as ... the writer.

King’s writers have a tendency to serve as conduits to the supernatural world, which usually results in sprees of violence. All that heady dreaming at the desk, the author seems to suggest, leaves the flesh open to corruption. Think of Jack Torrance, the short-tempered playwright of “The Shining” (1977). One moment he finds himself working, confusedly, on a five-act play, and the next moment he’s chasing his wife and young son with a mallet at the behest of vengeful shades. Or take Thaddeus Beaumont, the mild-mannered novelist of “The Dark Half” (1989), who finds material success only when he adopts

a nom de plume. Thaddeus revels in the freedom to write “any damn thing I pleased without The New York Times Book Review looking over my shoulder,” but then his alter ego springs to life and goes on a killing rampage.

In a 1993 essay, King wrote: “The question which haunts and nags and won’t completely let go is this one: Who am I when I write?” The same question lies at the heart of his new novel. Scott Landon, the fragile, prize-winning novelist at the book’s core, answers it like this: “I am crazy. I have delusions and visions. ... I write them down and people pay me to read them.” In “Lisey’s Story,” King once again finds terror in the creative act, but for the first time he sees beauty there, too.

Our heroine is Scott’s 50-year-old widow, Lisey Debusher Landon. At first she comes across as dutiful and drab, and it seems almost as if King prepared to write this book by mainlining a batch of Anne Tyler. But soon enough there’s a werewolf-like character chained in a basement, a patricide and a stalker who speaks (like previous King villains) with a Southern twang. In due course Lisey finds she must take up arms against the stalkers of this world and face a blood-hungry beast in the world beyond.

Lisey and Scott become truly close to each other when he cuts his left hand, purposely and severely, and shows her the blood. He does this one night early in their relationship to atone for having kept her waiting. “It’s a bool, Lisey!” That’s what he tells her. “And not just any bool, it’s a blood-bool!” She thinks he’s crazy, but the “blood-bool” eventually leads her to Boo’ya Moon, a fantastic realm to which Scott escaped as a boy when his cruel father sliced him in his attempts to release “the bad gunky.”

Lisey has three sisters, one of whom is kooky, and at times “Lisey’s Story” feels like “The Ya-Ya Sisterhood Goes to Hell.” If King’s 1982 novella “The Body” was his song of praise to boyhood and vomit, then “Lisey’s Story” is his ode to sisterhood and blood.

At another level it’s about one writer’s anxiety. Who am I when I write?

When King was a boy, his classmates paid to read the scary stories he wrote. Then came his first brush with a critic — Miss Hisler, the school principal. King describes the scene in “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” (2000): “ ‘What I don’t understand, Stevie,’ she said, ‘is why you’d write junk like this in the first place.’ ” Instead of strengthening his resolve, Miss Hisler’s words cut him deep: “I was ashamed. I have spent a good many years since — too many, I think — being ashamed about what I write.”

As a young man, he sold short stories not to The New Yorker or Esquire but to Cavalier, Dude and Swank. Living in a double-wide trailer with his wife and two small children, King pumped out novels no one wanted in his hours away from a high-school teaching job and summertime stints at an industrial laundry. Then came “Carrie” (1974), which he sold to Doubleday for $2,500. When Signet paid $400,000 for the paperback rights, he became Stephen King, the brand name — but that didn’t mean he could set foot in the House of Literature. His stuff appealed to people more familiar with Aerosmith than “Arrowsmith,” and the literary gatekeepers didn’t approve.

In public pronouncements King was sometimes unrepentant: “I recognize terror as the finest emotion,” he wrote in his study of the horror field, “Danse Macabre” (1981), “and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find I cannot terrify him/her, I will try to horrify, and if I find I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.” But in a later essay he complained of “being dismissed by the more intellectual critics as a hack (the intellectual’s definition of a hack seems to be ‘an artist whose work is appreciated by too many people’).”

The act of writing itself, for King, turned into something shameful and disgusting. He wrote, heart racing, with cotton shoved into his nostrils to sop up the cocaine-induced bleeding. His desk became the slum of his household: “For six years I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship’s captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere,” he wrote. In the early ’90s, after having apparently kicked his addictions, he started to add the influential few to his millions of admirers. He made his way into small-circulation prestige rags like Antaeus and Tin House. He won a 1996 O. Henry Award for a story he had published in The New Yorker. In 2003, the National Book Foundation gave him its medal for distinguished contribution to American letters, which offended the critic Harold Bloom, who said: “He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfuls. That they could believe that there is any literary value there or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy.”

Beneath Bloom’s notice, however, a cultural shift had taken place. Everything was up for reassessment. Music critics re-examined the supposed schlock of the ’70s (Abba, Led Zeppelin, Donna Summer) and found some value there. Martin Amis wrote a love song to the crime writer Elmore Leonard. The Modern Library and the Library of America issued handsome hardcover editions of Raymond Chandler. Quentin Tarantino delivered cheap thrills guised as le cinéma. Paul McCartney composed classical pieces while the opera singer Andrea Bocelli had multiplatinum sales. The French dug up the coffin containing the remains of Alexandre Dumas, that best-selling scoundrel, and carried it to the Pantheon. Cormac McCarthy, one of the few living novelists to have met with Bloom’s approval, left behind the tangled style of “Blood Meridian” and “Suttree” to update the Western with his Border Trilogy; he has since ventured deeper into genre territory with the one-two punch of “No Country for Old Men” and “The Road.” Another of Bloom’s pets, Philip Roth, borrowed a conceit from science fiction in using an alternate reality as the jumping-off point for “The Plot Against America.” And the Red Sox won the World Series.

Writers who had grown up on King, like Michael Chabon, got the c’mere finger from the literary establishment. As editor of two anthologies put out under Dave Eggers’s McSweeney’s concern, Chabon selected stories by King to run alongside those by writers whose work is filed under “literary” (Rick Moody, Charles D’Ambrosio, et al.). The collections’ titles, “McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories” and “McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales,” suggested a nostalgia not for the modernist Little Review, which published Joyce and Pound and claimed to make “no compromise with the public taste,” but for relics of American trash culture like Weird Tales, Argosy and Amazing Stories.

At the National Book Foundation ceremony, the bard of Bangor made sure his audience knew he stood outside the tribe: “The only person who understands how much this award means to me is my wife, Tabitha,” he said in his acceptance speech. “She also understands why I was in those early days so often bitterly angry at writers who were considered ‘literary.’ I knew I didn’t have quite enough talent or polish to be one of them, so there was an element of jealousy, but I was also infuriated by how these writers always seemed to have the inside track in my view at that time. Even a note in the acknowledgments page of a novel thanking this or that foundation for its generous assistance was enough to set me off.”

This year, King was granted the privilege of a Paris Review interview. On the ticklish subject of his literary worth, he said, “I’m shy talking about this, because I’m afraid people will laugh and say, Look at that barbarian trying to pretend he belongs in the palace.”

Paul Sheldon, the writer-hero of King’s “Misery” (1987), also has anxieties about his reputation. Paul has written literary novels, but he suspects he’s better suited to churning out popular bodice-rippers centered on his plucky, Victorian-era heroine, Misery Chastain:

“The truth, should you insist, was that the increasing dismissal of his work in the critical press as that of a ‘popular writer’ ... had hurt him quite badly. It didn’t jibe with his self-image as a Serious Writer who was only churning out these ... romances in order to subsidize his (flourish of trumpets, please!) REAL WORK! Had he hated Misery? Had he really? ... Perhaps all he had hated was the fact that her face on the dust jackets had overshadowed his in his author photographs, not allowing the critics to see that they were dealing with a young Mailer or Cheever here. ... As a result, hadn’t his ‘serious fiction’ become steadily more self-conscious, a sort of scream? Look at me! Look how good this is! Hey, guys!”

King has yet to write a bodice-ripper, but any novelist who trots out demons and dragons is asking for trouble with critics. One writer who got away with it while winning applause from here to Stockholm was Isaac Bashevis Singer. He wrote about devils, imps and dybbuks partly to suggest the influence of unseen forces over everyday events and partly because he loved a good yarn. “I am not a slice-of-life writer,” Singer said in his Paris Review interview.

Not every tale about a dybbuk or zombie pulls its weight, however. The ones that do are those that match up with psychological truths. When Jack Torrance of “The Shining” agrees to do the bidding of the revenants inhabiting the Overlook Hotel, readers go along for the ride because the homicidal shades’ commands match up neatly with the unconscious desires of a short-tempered family man who has a bad case of cabin fever. The oldest tales in the Western canon function in the same way. “Hansel and Gretel,” for instance, is an unforgettable story because it fleshes out our childhood fears of abandonment and our suspicions of what horrors await us in the wider world. That’s why we believe in the cannibal witch and her edible cottage. That’s why we unhesitatingly surrender ourselves to the tale’s unreality, the Grimms’ willing dupes.

King has said he wrote “The Shining” out of his worry that he would harm his own children. That’s a taboo fear dealt with by every parent not up for sainthood, and the book’s supernatural characters give weight to it. Another of King’s supernatural novels to have a writer for its hero, “Bag of Bones,” is not so convincing, because its ghosts arise from a fear sociopolitical rather than primal in origin. “Bag of Bones” posits that the winners of capitalism’s lottery, like the novel’s protagonist, a middlebrow best-selling writer named Mike Noonan, don’t give a thought to the past crimes (in this case, racially motivated lynchings and rapes) that have paved the way for their bourgeois comforts, like Mike’s lakeside summer home. “Bag of Bones” was maybe the first horror novel of liberal guilt. It’s admirable in its theme but it never comes alive in Brothers Grimm fashion.

“Lisey’s Story” succeeds where “Bag of Bones,” its fraternal twin, failed. Both books are supernatural love stories focused on mourning and marriage. But Lisey and Scott make much better novel subjects than their “Bag of Bones” counterparts. They are loopy and dramatic. Unlike the couple in the earlier book, who are chewed up by creaky plot machinery, Lisey and Scott are the story. They fit F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dictum, “Action is character.”

In the afterword to “Lisey’s Story,” King, post-coitally chatty after more than 500 pages, challenges reviewers to check his first draft against the final version to see how rigorously it was edited (by Scribner’s Nan Graham). “I had first-year French essays that came back cleaner,” he writes. Despite her red pen, the novel has its lulls, its repetitions, its gratuitous explanations. A few unfortunate lines remain, for example, “Amanda sounded just as bright as a new-minted penny.” (Cut to Bloom, spitting out his morning coffee.) But give him a break: King is a volcano. Let his new admirers play Flaubert to his Hugo.

“Lisey’s Story” has an abundance of solid descriptions (“His mouth tastes like the inside of a piggybank”) and indelible images (a boy burying a corpse with a toy shovel). Throughout, King is as cagey as a veteran pitcher, employing a career’s worth of tricks to good effect. He ends chapters midsentence, slips in and out of italics, breaks into verse, deftly changes tenses and switches perspectives and narrators the better to carve out his big story. The scenes of Lisey’s courtship and marriage are realistic and strange, and the sections set in the Boo’ya Moon netherworld, a place scented with bougainvillea and frangipani, are persuasive and enchanting.

Boo’ya Moon is “this world turned inside-out like a pocket,” and it’s as real as J. M. Barrie’s Never-Never Land, L. Frank Baum’s Oz or the Grimms’ forest. Like those places, Boo’ya Moon arises from childhood longings for the things not provided by one’s parents or guardians, and it’s as forbidding as it is wonderful. You come away from “Lisey’s Story” convinced of the existence of King’s fantastic realm and of something else rarer still in fiction, a long, happy marriage.

Jim Windolf is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.
God created Arrakis to train the faithful.


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Re: Interesantan clanak o Stivenu Kingu
« Reply #1 on: 23-07-2022, 11:44:10 »
šta će mi bogatstvo i svecka slava sva kada mora umreti lepa Nirdala