Stephen King carries on a Victorian tradition

"I think the idea is pretty exciting"

By Salon Staff

Published June 16, 2000 7:34PM (EDT)

Stephen King's horrifying proposal BY JANELLE BROWN (06/13/00)

Essentially, King isn't proposing anything all that different from what Dickens and other Victorian writers used to do 100-plus years ago. Yes, magazine editors did say things like "More blood," and "We need to attract more readers," and we got books like "Great Expectations." (Probably the most transparent example of this kind of thing in Dickens' work.) Amazing books, serialized one chapter per month, paid for by readers. (Yes, they were included in magazines containing other points of interest, but it's pretty well documented that it was Dickens that sold the magazines, not the farm reports, etc.) I think Brown is crying wolf here, and being rather silly about doing it. King's proposal isn't new; it just uses a new form of distribution -- one that we'd better get used to. Personally, I think the idea is pretty exciting.

-- Jonathan L. Miller

For most books and authors, you are right, this is a terrible idea. For Stephen King, it's perfect. He runs out of ideas halfway through his books anyway and they all become the same hackneyed GOOD vs. EVIL crap. The best example of this is "The Stand." The first half was great: post-apocalyptic world, the struggles of the survivors with some excellent descriptions; the second half wasn't worth the paper it was published on: The good collect in one camp, the bad in another and the good carry a nuke by hand 2,000 miles to blow up the bad. The second half reads like a bad high-school paper for freshman English. (Thank goodness they added more later.) Now I can read the first few chapters and stop without having to pay for the drivel that comes when he can't figure out how to end the story.

-- Stefan Krzywicki

Salon Staff

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