Stephen King

Stephen Edwin
King is one of todays most popular and best selling writers. King
combines
the elements of psychological thrillers, science fiction, the paranormal, and
detective themes into his stories.1 In addition to these themes, King
sticks to using great
and vivid detail that is set in a realistic everyday
place.2 Stephen King who is mainly
known for his novels, has broadened
his horizons to different types of writings such as
movie scripts, nonfiction,
autobiographies, childrens books, and short stories. While
Stephen King
might be best known for his novels The Stand and It, some of his best work
that has been published are his short stories such as The Body and Quitters
Inc.3
Kings works are so powerful because he uses his experience and
observations from his
everyday life and places them into his unique stories.


Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21,
1947, at the
Maine General Hospital.4 Stephen, his mother Nellie, and
his adopted brother David were
left to fend for themselves when Stephens
father Donald, a Merchant Marine captain, left
one day, to go the store
to buy a pack of cigarettes, and never returned.5 His fathers
leaving
had a big indirect impact on Kings life.Stephen King recalls how his family
life
was altered: After my father took off, my mother, struggled, and
then landed on her
feet. My brother and I didnt see a great deal of
her over the next nine years. She
worked a succession of continuous low
paying jobs.6 Stephens first outlooks on life
were influenced by his
older brother and what he figured out on his own. While young
Stephen
and his family moved around the North Eastern and Central United States. When
he was seven years old, they moved to Stratford, Connecticut.7 Here is
where King got
his first exposure to horror. One evening he listened to
the radio adaptation of Ray
Bradburys story Mars Is Heaven! That night
King recalls he slept in the doorway,
where the real and rational light
of the bathroom bulb could shine on my face.”8Stephen
Kings exposure
to oral storytelling on the radio had a large impact on his later writings.

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King tells his stories in visual terms so that the reader would be able
to see what was
happening in their own mind,somewhat in the same fashion
the way it was done on the
radio.9 Kings fascination with horror early
on continued and was pushed along only a
couple weeks after Bradburys
story. One day little Stephen was looking through his
mothers books and
came across one named The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde. After
his mother finished reading the book to him, Stephen was hooked. He
immediately
asked her to read it again. King recalls that summer when I was seven, my
mother must have read it to me half a dozen times.”10Ironically that
same year, while
Stephen was still seven years old, he went to go see his
first horror movie, The Creature
from the Black Lagoon. This is important
because Stephen says, Since the movie, I
still see things cinematically.

I write down everything I see. What I see, it seems like a
movie to me.”11
During this year the biggest event that probably had the biggest impact
on
Stephen Kings writing style was the discovery of the author H. P. Lovecraft.

King
would later write of Lovecraft, He struck with the most force, and
I still think, for all his
shortcomings, he is the best writer of horror
fiction that America has yet produced.”12 In
many of Lovecrafts writings
he always used his present surroundings as the back drop of
his stories.

King has followed in his footsteps with the fictional town of Castle Rock,
Maine. Castle Rock is acombination of several towns that King moved to
and from with
his family in his childhood.13 The main town that it resembles
is that of Durham, Maine. It
was after the exposure to H. P. Lovecrafts
stories that King first began to write.
While growing up and
moving around the way his family did, Stephen had never been
able to feel
comfortable and settle down in one place and make friends they way other kids
his age did. Around the age of twelve the King family finally settled
in the town of
Durham, Maine. For Stephen King, Durham was the place where
his imagination began to
shine. It was at this time that Stephen first
began to make friends. Along with his friends,
Stephen would go the movies
a lot. Stephen would use the movies as a inspiration.
Although he enjoyed
going out and having fun, whenever he would come home, Stephen
would immediately
write down his experiences and observations. Frequently King would
place
his friends and family into childhood fantasy tales. And one would always
know
how Stephen felt about them because of how long they lived in the
story.It was not
until college that Stephen King received any kind
of real recognition for his writings. In
the Fall of 1967, King finished
his first novel, The Long Walk, and turned it into his
sophomore American
Literature professor for review.14 After a couple of weeks and a
couple
rounds around the department, the English professors were stunned. They realized
that they had a real writer on their hands. From then until he graduated
with a bachelors
degree in English from University of Maine at Orono in
the Spring of 1970, King
concentrated on rounding off the edges of his
writing technique.15
One short story that best shows the type
and technique of Stephen Kings writing is
The Body. The Body, which
has been adapted into to a Hollywood movie, was first
published in the
collection of short stories called Different Seasons. The story is a tale
of
four twelve year old friends who at the end of one summer go out on
a journey in into the
woods to see a dead body. While on their journey
they learn about life, friendship, and
are propelled from innocent to
experienced. On the surface of the story it appears to be
simple journey
with its occasional mishaps, but the true magnificence is that this story has
a strong autobiographical coincidence. The main character, Gordie Lachance,
is a boy
growing up on his own through the memory of his dead older brother.

Growing up,
Gordie, an avid story teller, dreamed of becoming a writer.

Before his brothers
accidental death, all his parents would ever care
about was his brother. Since his death,
Gordies parents have presumably
shut themselves away from Gordie. This, to a certain
degree is true of
King. Because of his father leaving when Stephen was two, and his
mother
taking on around the clock jobs, he never really had any parental guidance.16
The story itself is written with Gordie narrating in the present
time look back at the
journey. At the time of his flashback, Gordie is
a best selling author who has returned to
his home town of Castle Rock
to revisit his past. This is ironic because at the time
Stephen wrote
the story he himself had just moved from Bolder, Colorado, back home
to
the town of Bangor. Kings childhood home town of Durham is used in several
different stories under the fictional town name of Castle Rock. It is
also noticeable how in
the story when Gordie looks back to him and his
brother, his brother is the only person
who cares for him. He noticeably
goes out of his way to look out for Gordie, and is
always encouraging his
and asking him about his writing, while all his parents seem to do
is ignore
Gordie. This also can be related to Kings past because while growing up his
brother while only two years older then him, always seemed to be there
for Stephen and
look out for him. Probably the deepest imagery of the
story is at the end of the novel.
Gordie is shown back at home and putting
the finishing touches on his latest work. While
finishing up, Gordie
is interrupted by his son who is shown in sense to be a good-natured
and
caring boy. Gordie experiences a deep love for his family at the time. This
setup is
presumably placed in the story as an escape for King.17 King
tells of his fear of providing
for and caring for a family. This shows
King pushing away the fear, in a sense saying that
he is all right. That
he has now embraced the idea.18
One of Kings best
work is also one that does not fit in any category of his usual
writings.

For an author who usually writes horror, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank
Redemption,
is a story that is a refreshing sidestep. The story tells of how Andy
Dufresne,
who is falsely tried, convicted, and sentenced to back to back life sentences
for
the double murder of his wife and her lover, deals with being trapped
within a dreadful
situation that are out of his hands. Throughout the nineteen
years that he is in Shawshank
prison, Andy has to endure everything from
a gang called the Sisters, who go around
raping and beating their prey
to being forced to create and run a money laundering
scheme for the prison
Warden.19 If this story was written without the authors name on it,
there
is none of Stephen Kings characteristic style, except for maybe in one place
in the
story. The one possible place that even hints that it is from the
mind of King is at the end
of the story where Red is off to keep his promise
to Andy. Andy asks Red, that when he
get out of jail to travel to a southern
Maine town called Buxton and look for something he
buried in a hay field
under a large oak field. The suspense of what was buried and the
description
of the field in Buxton is what is typical of Stephen King. While the story
is
very uncharacteristic of King it does deep down relate to himself.
The theme of hope and
of how Andy overcomes the situation is one that is
tied closely to King. It runs a direct
parallel with life as a child and
how his life has turned out. Just as Andy was thrown into
predicament
and later escapes and lives his life on his own terms, Stephen, early on was
forced to move from town to town with mother and brother. In the end Stephen
escapes
and now lives on his own terms.20
Stephen Kings works
are so powerful because he uses his experiences and
observations from his
life and places them into his unique works. What seems to make
Stephen
Kings stories almost magical is that the settings of his stories are placed
into
common every day places. Additionally, Stephens writings are true
to life in peoples
minds because he draws upon common fears. J