The Blurb on Other People’s Words – All about King

August 30, 2011 at 2:38 am (Reviews, writing)

Stephen King: A Literary Companion (Mcfarland Literary Companions) – by Rocky Wood

I don’t read non-fiction in full length book form very often, and when I do, it’s typically biographies or how-to manuals. Ironically, the last time I read anything of this nature was a book on the best of horror writing written by Stephen King. Am I a good judge then of this type of book? – On an experience and technical level, the answer is probably no, but on a personal level, I’ll offer my opinion and you can take it or leave it.

One reason I usually avoid non-fiction is that several of the books I have encountered use a dry textbook approach. Unless I’m reading something for work or school, I want to be entertained.

I thought it was a good sign when I read through the entire introduction without being tempted to skip on to the body of the work. It probably helps that I’m a big King fan to begin with, but I love the fact that this companion addresses not only King’s horror but his fantasy and mainstream stories as well, which I also appreciate. I have enjoyed the full spectrum of his work, and some of the books mentioned I had never heard of. I now look forward to checking them out. Mr. Wood has a pleasantly natural and fluid style. It feels as though he is enthusiastically sharing one of his passions with the reader rather than lecturing to us. He explores characters, settings and themes, all in great detail.

While it made for a fun read, that zeal for the material also led to a fair amount of personal opinion-based commentary – my one issue with the companion. He presented items that were the result of his own preferences, whereas I would have rather seen things like his top 10 lists based on reader polls and not one person’s point of view alone. Those portions were more like “Stephen King: A Personal Perspective” instead of “Stephen King: a Literary Companion”.

In all, I really appreciated the diversity, depth and scope of this book, and it gave me great new leads for future reading. As a genre writer myself, it certainly doesn’t hurt to take in more from the master. This is a great addition to the library of any Stephen King fan, and a good read for fans of genre in general – a 4 star read for me.

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